I’m in a sudden loss…We’re all in a sudden loss… When I first heard the news, I was shocked. A great man he was. A great countrymen who loved his nation so much. An amazing designer who strives up for the whole country holding up his faith to the traditional Indonesian batiks and made them famous, gracing Vogue’s and international catwalks. A revolutionary man, I can personally say. His works are a legend, unbelievable and will always be remembered.
I never thought I would lose this great man so soon. I was on my car when I got the message from my mom’s assistant telling me about the great loss. I parked and turned off my car. I don’t know what to do. I was there staring on my steering wheel as memories flashes back..
It was about 3 years ago, which seems to me it felt just like a while ago that we were on this trip to Jogja together with mom coming along. It was one of those culture trips he took me to. We were actually there to attend the commemoration of the local Sultan. But, then for a week later, we stayed and he showed me and taught me the culture that was fading away right now, and how much he wants to prolong and keep it alive for the whole world to see. In short, it was beautiful. It was a beautiful trip.
Then it flashes… I remembered it was my last dinner with him, just before I moved to the States, we both talked about the world, the country and the love for the culture. I could also remember his usual sarcastic jokes, his favorite wine that was a little parting gift I had for him, and a little amount of seafood he still bravely eat despite of his series of sicknesses. It was however, a very short one. It’s ashame really I didn’t spend much time with him. Now I wished I could rewind that time, bend time and space to go back and spend time on that last dinner. Our conversation never really ends that night. I haven’t packed and my dad is obviously in a panic for the departure that next day. So I had to leave early with my dad, leaving just him and my mom that night. As I went out the hotel lobby and plunge in my car, I said to my driver, “its so ironic I have to leave early. I wish I could’ve stayed.” My driver remained silent.
It flashes again to another conversation that night. He talked how lucky I am to be living in the beautiful city of Pasadena. And then..on the new year. He talks about all these beautiful flowers parading the whole city. He told me to take some pictures and send it to him.. He talked how he used to see the festival and would have stayed in the Hilton for a week or two and just breathe in.. and right there we made a promise, that one day when I graduated, he will go to Pasadena, come to my graduation ceremony and take me to experience what he called as ‘paradise’.
It’s never finish our little story-telling. It’s weird to say that I didn’t spend time with him so much, but now I missed him. As for the least, I could say it is time. It’s God’s plan. He has done everything what God asked him to do and now he returns to Father’s side. But I believe that one day we will all meet him again. I want to personally thank him for teaching me on this short little time. But I realized now it was worth everything. Something really precious that I could never experience again. I will keep them on my records as one of those special moments and memories. May you rest in peace, great Indonesian!
Portrait of Iwan Tirta, Living Legendary Batik Designer, 1935-2010
Renowned batik designer Iwan Tirta died at 8:35 a.m. at Abdi Waluyo Hospital in Menteng, Central Jakarta. He was 75 years old.
In recent years Iwan had suffered from diabetes and a series of strokes, according to his assistant, Trisna. He was hospitalized for the last two weeks.
A Yale-educated lawyer, Iwan pursued his love of traditional batik in the 1970s and 1980s, becoming the country’s leading authority on the traditional Javanese fabric. He designed for visiting dignitaries, including for US president Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy, in the mid-1980s, and for the leaders at the 1994 APEC Summit.
In recent years, he also was a consultant for upmarket Indonesian restaurants.
His batik designs come straight from the heart of Javanese tradition, but in other respects Indonesia’s most feted fashion maestro, 75-year-old Iwan Tirta, is a modernist — responsible for getting batik into the pages of Vogue and onto international catwalks. A Yale graduate destined for legal practice, Tirta switched career paths in the 1960s after his interest in batik was awakened during a research project. Since that time, he has built up an exclusive fashion and homeware label, and contributed to the preservation and advancement of batik-production techniques. Here are some of his inspirations.
Pakubuwono X, who died in 1938, was the susuhunan, or sultan, of Surakarta (the central Javanese city more commonly known as Solo). He was well read in everything and very forward-looking. His court even combined batik and Art Deco designs.
I love Raden Saleh, the great 19th century painter, and Srihadi from Bandung, who captured the spirit of Indonesia while being very modern at the same time.
Mozart, Beethoven and Bach are my favorites as a piano player. I find modern music atonal, but a composer like Beethoven is soothing and melodious.
I love Halston who, without cutting a piece of material, could make a dress, and I love Yves Saint Laurent, who had a certain flair and was also an intellectual.
I’m a big fan of the Indonesian novelist Pramoedya Ananta Toer because of his outspokenness and his descriptions of the social conditions that existed when the Dutch colonists arrived in Indonesia.