A M B A S S ADOR O F I N DO N E S IA N B ATI K : I w a n T i r t a ( 1 9 3 5 – 2 0 1 0 ) – TAASA Review December 2010


This article was originally found in the December 2010 edition of TAASA Review (Volume 19, Issue 4, Page 19).

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Maria Wronska-Friend O n 31 July 2010, Indonesia ­ and the admirers of Javanese batik across the world – lost one of the most prominent champions and connoisseurs of these textiles. Nursjirwan Tirtaamidjaja ­ better known as Iwan Tirta – a Jakarta-based designer, lawyer and collector, is credited with launching Javanese batik onto the international fashion stage. Born in 1935 in central Java to an upper-class family, he studied law at the University of Indonesia, the London School of Economics and Yale University, after which he worked at the United Nations office in New York.

Well aware of international fashion trends and consumers’ expectations as well as strongly rooted in classical Javanese culture, he was well placed to introduce Javanese batik into haute couture. Interestingly enough, it was in Australia that Iwan Tirta launched his career as a fashion designer: his first shows were staged in 1968 in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney.

During the next three decades he presented spectacular fashion shows, dominated by sumptuous evening wear made of high-quality batik textiles decorated with Javanese patterns, all over the world...