Denny Wirawan : Adding Contemporary Glamour to Traditional Textiles

Story By
Susanna Tjokro

Denny Wirawan’s fashion designs are classified as a fusion of provocatively sexy and androgynous styles with a touch of luxury. Denny, one of the most prominent Indonesian designers, is also famous for his clashing patterns and layered clothing styles. Moreover, he injects contemporary glamour into traditional textiles such as batik Kudus.

Denny Wirawan’s collections have graced runways in various countries, namely France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, India, the United Arab Emirates, and the U.S. He brought batik Kudus to a whole new level by showcasing it to an international audience at the Fashion Gallery at the New York Fashion Week in 2016. Denny was the first designer to pave the way for batik Kudus to become part of glamorous, international fashion events.

When it comes to batik, each region has its own patterns, which make it distinctively different from others.  While batik fabrics generally are widely known internationally, batik Kudus is less prominently known (despite the fact that batik textiles which come from Kudus, a regency in Central Java, are as beautiful as batik from other regions).

At the New York Fashion Week, Denny Wirawan, supported by the Bakti Budaya Djarum Foundation, showcased 15 new looks from his Balijava’s Fall-Winter collection. “Padma” (lotus flower), one of batik Kudus’ classic motifs, was the theme of that collection. The clothes, which come in a dark palette, feature distinctive batik Kudus’ patterns, such as wajikan (rhombus), padma and kecer (rice-shaped motif).

Denny’s pieces also include kebaya (traditional, feminine Javanese long-sleeved blouses) and beskap (classic, masculine Javanese jackets with high-closed collars and long sleeves). In his beautiful designs, kebaya and beskap morphed into clothing that combine a fresh, modern look with a touch of Indonesian culture.

In September 2017, again in collaboration with the Bakti Budaya Djarum Foundation, Denny also featured batik Kudus in his fashion show at the Kempinski hotel in Jakarta, which was held to commemorate his two decades in the fashion industry.

That show entitled “Wedari”, was divided into four sequences. Wedari means flower garden; thus naturally, flora and fauna motifs featured prominently at this special show. Interestingly, while the second, third and fourth sequences featured batik textiles, the first part of “Wedari” showcased luxurious, all-white apparel, enhanced by the beauty of exquisite Kudus embroideries.

At the “Padma” fashion show, Denny who is keen on ensuring the survival of traditional fabrics, featured batik tulis textiles only, while at the “Wedari” event, he used batik tulis (90%) and batik cap (10%) fabrics. The time-consuming batik tulis is hand-drawn batik made by using canting (a copper vessel with a spouted nib); batik cap is hand-blocked batik, created by using a copper stamp.

Denny Wirawan is a graduate of the Susan Budihardjo School of Design, where he established his eponymous brand in 2003. As the business grew, he launched four lines in total, namely Denny Wirawan (ready-to-wear), Denny Wirawan Indonesia (deluxe ready-to-wear), Balijava (both ready-to-wear and deluxe ready-to-wear which showcase Indonesian traditional textiles) as well as Denny Wirawan Bride.

Balijava, besides batik Kudus, has featured other batik patterns as well, such as batik from Cirebon, Garut, Yogyakarta, Solo, Pekalongan, Madura, and Tuban among others. Moreover, Denny also has used hand-woven textiles, including tenun ikat Jepara, songket Palembang, tapis Lampung, among others, in creating his items.

Factory-made textiles have caused the decline of handmade ones – Denny is helping to halt this decline of traditional fabrics by using them in his apparel. He uses them to create casual, lovely clothes that evoke a sense of playfulness as well as glamorous, gorgeous dresses for red carpet-style events. Each design combines a fresh, modern look with a touch of Indonesian culture.