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Business of batiks in Buckingham Palace


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Sri Lanka’s batik industry which was virtually revived more than a decade ago, by fashion icon Darshi Keerthisena who is dubbed Lanka’s Batik Queen, recently marked a momentous moment in her life and career when she showcased her batik creations at the Buckingham Place in England. 

Darshi thus became the first and only Sri Lankan fashion designer to be featured at the Buckingham Palace.

Speaking to Daily FT, the passionate fashion icon who has held exhibitions featuring her unique batik creations in many parts of the world, said exhibiting her creation at Buckingham Palace at the ‘Commonwealth Fashion Exchange’ was indeed a historic landmark occasion for her and Sri Lanka as well. 

“There were fashion designers representing 53 countries and I was the only designer from Sri Lanka. The show attracted several distinguished guests including the Duchess of Cambridge, top fashion icons, celebrated media personalities and other renowned figures. The feedback I received was awesome and it was indeed a proud moment for me. My creation depicted Sri Lankan Batik in an innovative way,” said Darshi for whom innovation has been her hallmark.

While pioneers in the batik industry virtually bade farewell in the face of a collapsing industry, declining revenue and other factors, Darshi whose father Deshabandu Dr. Buddhi Keerthisena was a long term businessman in the batik trade together with his wife, took the reins from her parents having armed herself with a degree in fashion designing and textiles from Britain. 

“It is very rare that the next generation took the baton from pioneer batik designers in Sri Lanka. But I thought in terms of novelty and innovation. Even as a youngster, I must confess that I never wore locally made traditional batik dresses, but opted for imported ones. I then began to realise why I cannot create something here that I would also like to wear. That was the inspirational factor for me. Then I returned to Sri Lanka in 2005 with a fashion designing degree and joined the Brandix group. I tried novel methods by using silk, chiffon, linen and other fabrics. We opened a Buddhi Batiks showroom at Crescat in 2006 and that became an instant hit. I have been taking part regularly in the Colombo Fashion Week from 2007 and that exposure, recognition and positive feedback motivated me to hold several Sri Lankan batik exhibitions in many parts of the world. I was also awarded for my feat which marked the revival of the Sri Lankan batik industry which was until then largely dependent on the tourism market. With new concepts, new designs in new fabric, batik on sarees emerging as a new trend giving new life to a virtually ailing industry. Today we export batik sarees to even India,” said Darshi who is now Designing Consultant at MAS Linea Aqua.

A father’s 

colour piece

Darshi’s father, founder of Buddhi Batiks, well known film producer and business personality

Dr. Buddhi Keerthisena – recalling his earliest memories about Darshi’s childhood days, said that she was a batik buff even as a little child of five years.

“My Buddhi Batiks workshop was in the same compound of our home. This was started by me and my wife. I remember how this little used to come to the workshop, excited looking at what was happening around her. Then she used to collect little pieces of fabric, design batiks and try them on her dolls and even our pet dogs. As she grew up she naturally became very passionate about batik. Present Minister Mangala Samaraweera was working with me then. Darshi was inspired by Mangala and also Prasad Aboo bucker. Later having qualified herself in fashion designing in the UK, she returned to take the Buddhi Batiks baton from us,” said Buddhi.

“After the 1983 riots, the batik industry which was solely depending in the tourism industry began to decline while big names and pioneers in the trade began to move away or abandon their businesses. But Darshi made a colourful comeback to the scene and gave new life to it. I am so proud that she has today become the biggest brand name in Sri Lankan batik. 


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