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Thursday December 6, 2007

Flair and drama

Some of the entries for the Piala Seri Endon batik design competition were nothing short of stunning. 

BATIK, traditionally comprising flora and fauna prints, is heading towards modernity with today’s designers.  

Its versatility offers endless possibilities, as showcased by the majority of this year’s 12 finalists of the Piala Seri Endon batik design competition who ingeniously incorporated batik into Eastern and Western style like garments, giving it a refreshing contemporary outlook in the name of globalisation. 

Oriental appeal: Batik design by Azizul Abdul Kadir. – Pics by SAMUEL ONG / The Star
First-place winners Lucas Lim and Zoe Tan, who were inspired by the dark and mysterious elements of Gothic culture, designed three dramatic pieces – two women’s and one men’s – in gloomy colours with hooded cloaks and masquerade masks as accompaniments. 

Though heavily influenced by Goth elements, the duo’s Face Illustration collection still retained the traditional batik techniques, giving it a bold new take on batik. 

Attractive: Batik outfits for men and women, themed The Cut of the Story, by Tan Yen Yen.
“I didn’t want to keep to the traditional floral prints, and I’ve always been fascinated by the Gothic look,” said a very surprised Lim, 26, after he and his teammate accepted the RM30,000 prize money from the Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Nur Zahirah at the KL Convention Centre here on Sunday. 

“It makes batik boring that way and it doesn’t have to be.  

“I plan to come up with new batik motifs to make it (batik) more interesting,” he said, adding that Malaysian batik is contemporary, unique and can easily receive world acceptance. 

This attitude and enthusiasm was shared by the other talents, who entered the competition with a sense of purpose – to give batik a global appeal without discarding its cultural roots. 

While Lucas and Zoe aimed for audacious avant garde creations, first runner-up Junaidi Awang used softer colours and kept with tradition by infusing traditional motifs like the tapak Sulaiman and bunga pecah lapan berantai into his Wild Wild West designs. 

Aptly naming his collection Malaysia Songket ... Crafted for the World, Junaidi also dressed his models in white boots and cowboy hats, further giving his songket outfits an interesting, eye-catching fusion of cultures. 

“I did a lot of research on colours and designs to make sure there is a good match and composition. 

Elaborate: A breathtaking outfit by Junaidi Awang, themed Malaysia Songket ... Crafted for the World.
“We should all aim at making batik internationally recognised,” he added. Junaidi took home RM10,000. 

Sabah trio Jamilah Shukri, Jaludin Zaini and Halmi Chek, who banded together as the Pua Indah team, were named second runners-up in the category, with their Iban-influenced collection. 

Their designs, themed Sejarah Mengejar Alam, were sultry yet practical with very elaborate batik prints throughout the garments.  

“We decided to keep it classic and elegant but, more importantly, wearable,” Jamilah, 54, said on behalf of her team that bagged RM5,000. 

Retro: A whimsical piece by Deasmond Liaw Kok Min.
There were five other finalists who received consolation awards of RM1,000 each. 

References to historical costume were apparent in some designs. 

Consolation prize winner Azizul Abdul Kadir’s Ukiran Kepala Perahu themed designs featured a combination of European medieval costumes and China’s period attire.  

The collection, in predominantly black and red, featured mandarin collars (for men) and velvety flowing garments with intricate art (for women).  

Also incorporating historic elements was The Glorious Classic collection whose earthy tones were reminiscent of ancient Egypt. 

Nature’s influences were also apparent in some of the designs. Koh Chean Peng’s Congo Peafowl of bright blue hues depicted the peacock while team Layaran Ombak Senja’s collection of the same name featured waves and corals. 

The fifth prize winner Deasmond’s Liaw Kok Min’s Retro collection comprised mainly of dark green, black and yellow swirls and stripes. 

The competition provided fresh possibilities in two other categories:soft furnishing and handicraft. 

The prize money of RM150,000, sponsored by The Star, covered all three categories including five consolation prizes. 

The Piala Seri Endon was organised by Yayasan Budi Penyayang Malaysia under the Malaysia Batik – Crafted for the World movement, which was started by Datin Seri Endon Mahmood, the late wife of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. 

Present at the grand finals of the competition on Sunday were foundation chairman Nori Abdullah and foundation CEO Datuk Leela Mohd Ali. 


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