Thursday, 30 August 2012

Bonjour Bali: Quarzia does Chic Batik in Seminyak

Bali is synonymous with batik and most shops you walk into on the island will be selling some form of batik to tourists. But while impulsively buying a cotton or rayon sarong is a norm, very few (if any) would wear it once the plane takes off and lands back at home.

It’s pretty but maybe not as chic and practical to fit in our modern wardrobe. But if you really love batik like I do and appreciate the labour-heavy yet worthy process which goes behind these beautiful patterns then fret not because batik has undergone a modern and an uber chic transformation at one boutique – Quarzia.

While based in Seminyak, the hip and glitzy part of Bali, Quarzia is founded by two Italian designers (Simonetta and Marco) who fell in love with the island and decided to make it home to their Batik-specialized label.

Batik from Bali's Quarzia

Silks batik from Quarzia in Bali
The batiks at Quarzia - like this gorgeous silk one - are all made using
the traditional technique famous in Indonesia.

And instead of modernizing the techniques, the designers stuck to the traditional way of making it by hand using hot wax and pride themselves with this as part of their core ethos. This way while revolutionizing the designs and patterns, they also keep this tradition alive and employ local artisans who grew up making batik.

The batiks here comes in luxurious fabric like silk, chiffon and cotton and the patterns are designed by Simonetta who comes from a textile design background and whom I was happy to meet while visiting the shop.

She also explained to me the meticulous batik-making process with actual samples and described her love for the island which she now calls home.

The traditional technique of making batik as demonstrated here starts
with drawing the design on the fabric, then pouring hot wax using a special
meticulous tool to pencil in the pattern borders, then adding the colour manually
to each section of the illustration and finally dipping it in warm water to remove
the wax away...

Quarzia in Bali - beautiful silk scarves for men and women
And voila! a beautiful bright silk batik scarf as a result...

Rest assured, nothing here looks touristy. It’s more chic and practical and could fit right into any modern woman’s closet while still carrying the essence of batik in it especially when it comes to technique.

I especially love the colours here which are much brighter than your average batik dyes and are intended to bring out the patterns and design more. From blue/aqua to orange/red and yellow combinations, everything on display here screams fresh and bright.

The styles at Quarzia also vary from stunning printed silk scarves and flowing dresses to kaftan tops and more hip separates like shorts and chiffon skirts. I guess this variety make the label appeal to the young as well as a more sophisticated crowd who are sick of trying to squeeze into boring monochrome structured shapes during the summer.

Blue dresses at Quarzia in Bali, Indonesia
The colour combinations are heavenly in Quarzia pieces... so chic and fresh!

It’s impossible not to love the gorgeous Quarzia pieces especially as they are displayed in the charming airy boutique which beautifully combines the warm Asian colour palette with understated Italian elegance.

What’s even more impressive is their men’s collection which can be described as resort chic and even won over my picky hubby on a previous trip with its interesting patterns, light and weather-appropriate choice of material and flattering cuts.

The boutique also stocks some gorgeous bags, leather accessories and men’s t-shirt range with illustrations designed by a local artist.

Rat Pack chic resort wear for men by Quarzia in Bali
Menswear are also a standout at Quarzia with their Rat Pack resort
chic vibe and daring yet wearable batik patterns.

Quarzia links with Indonesian artists to produce t-shirts
Love the cute t-shirts too!

Quarzia leather accessories
On the other hand, the leather accessories stocked at Quarzia are
more urban and muted in colour and beautifully-crafted...

Snakeskin purse from Quarzia in Bali

And while you’d think in a boutique like the pieces are overpriced, you’d be surprised by how reasonably priced everything is here taking into consideration the great quality and labour-heavy process of making the Batik itself. Pieces start at S$50+ up to a few hundred depending on the piece and material. Trust me this is no tourist trap!

So if you’re looking to invest in some chic batik which you can actually wear and feel comfortable in, scrap the market and head down to Quarzia where you can seek refuge from the python skin bags, bintang t-shirts and indulge in some real and stylish local shopping.

Quarzia is located in Jl. Oberoi 3A, Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia. Tel: +62 361 736644. 

Quarzia's boutique in Seminyak, Bali

Quarzia's boutique in Seminyak, Bali

Quarzia's boutique in Seminyak, Bali