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Malaysia Batik

Batik for the world


EVERY TIME a designer comes up with a batik collection, we wait with bated breath hoping that this would be the one to conquer the world and be as popular as the bright prints of Pucci or the eye-catching patterns of Missoni.

When Jendela Batik showcased its latest 2008 collection at the Jaguar car showroom at the Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur, recently, it was the sleek style and shade of the latest Jag that seemed to have evolved and caught one’s eye.

The local label’s fashion creations, especially the flowing resort range in soft materials are refreshing in terms of design, print and colour but several others looked a tad familiar and lacked fashion vitality. Then again, not every single piece is banal.

The show began with a selection of batik outfits with a late 60s and early 70s vibe such as a catsuit with keyhole accent and bell-bottom pants, hotpants teamed with a blouson, and a long, button-up shirt dress.
These are all in bright crayon colours and prints that combined stripes and florals, abstracts and geometrics.

Interestingly, this range can hold its own; most of the attire are separates that can be worn with jeans, palazzo pants, skirts, white shirts and tank tops.

Style is strength in the next range of sexy power outfits. Designed for the sophisticated working woman, the line is infused with “eco-urban” motifs from Jendela Batik’s trademark Contemporary range of patterns. Made from raw and satin silks, the clothes, mostly in solid shades, come detailed with batik accents on the lining, ruffles and accessories like bags and shoes by Bonia.

In sensuous silk, chiffon, satin and organza, the brand’s evening wear features eight dresses said to have been inspired by the late Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. A brave and bold statement indeed but a select few are sure-winners and would probably have got the nod from Jackie O, a style icon in her time.

While the designs from this range are highlighted with hand-worked details like pleats, ruching and soft folds, it is the batik prints that are really exquisite. Unlike most usual batik motif that are often boring, with stereotypical latticework prints and tacky colour combinations, the ones from Jendela Batik’s evening wear look classy, particularly the abstracts.

One off-shoulder number in silk has a splash-on print in earthy tones that resembles tiger stripes. Another curvaceous creation with fishtail hem comes with a small Oriental floral motif in elegant, sombre shades.

Apparently, the patterns for the evening wear line have been extracted from the label’s signature Asli collection of prints. The batik boutique, located at Starhill Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, actually has several lines of prints and colour tones for easier reference and, perhaps, to make it easier for clients who want to have their batik custom-made.

A laudable effort, for much of the beauty of batik lies in the fact that the technique of batik-making offers unlimited possibilities for artistic freedom, as prints and patterns are applied by actual drawing. What could perhaps catapult batik to coveted status is a print or pattern that’s distinctive and desirable.

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