As brand ambassador for Alleira Batik, it goes without saying that Annisa Pohan is a big fan of the traditional Indonesian art. The fresh-faced 30-year old is the second daughter of Bank Indonesia's governor, Aulia Pohan, and is married to Agus Harimurti, the eldest son of Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Prior to Alleira approaching her to be their brand ambassador, Pohan was already a regular batik wearer, except with the absence of suitable ready-to-wear batik clothing, she found herself having to get dresses custom made.
To most of us, batik has always been associated with traditional costumes or gift shop merchandise, but Alleira Batik, founded in 2005, has worked towards integrating this traditional apparel into contemporary wardrobes with designs that are modern and relevant. The brand launched its first boutique in Singapore at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands just last month. Pohan herself is familiar with the skepticism towards batik, "My friends would say, 'do you always have to wear batik?' and I would reply, 'yes, because it's our heritage, and it's really unique'. When I met Alleira, it was my chance to change their mindset - that batik isn't just for old people, it can be worn by any gender, any age, or for any occasion. Now things have changed, and I see my friends wearing batik!"
Asia Tatler chats with the youthful mother-of-one about batik and beauty secrets:
Asia Tatler: What, to you, is the beauty of batik?
Annisa Pohan: The diversity of it. Batik is hand-made, and it takes a long time to make just one piece, and each piece is different. It's not just about the fashion - it's an art. There's also meaning in the patterns.
AT: How would you describe your own style?
AP: Feminine and casual. I like to wear clothes that are comfortable.
AT: How do you incorporate batik into your wardrobe?
AP: I don't wear batik everyday, but I do accessorise with batik scarfs, headbands or bangles - Alleira makes these as well, so I can include touches of batik in my dressing.
AT: What are you busy with at the moment?
AP: I'm a mother and a wife, so my family keeps me busy. I am brand ambassador for some other products as well. I'm also a social worker; I founded the Tunggadewi Foundation that focuses on women and children's welfare. Our latest project is a children's learning centre that is free, where they can play and learn.
Annisa Pohan with her daughter, Almira Tunggadewi Yudhoyono
AT: Why is this cause particularly close to your heart?
AP: I think women and children are important. Children are the future of our nation so we have to have happy, smart children. And we have to educate the women because [it's a relationship that is] intertwined.
AT: As a prominent figure in the media and social scene, looking your best is undoubtedly important. What are some of your beauty secrets?
AP: I do pilates twice a week, hair treatments with traditional Indonesian herbs once every three weeks, and facials every month. I drink a lot of water and avoid sweet drinks, and I eat less carbs more protein. I love sleeping, and I a need minimum nine hours of sleep everyday.
AT: What are your current interests?
AP: I'm learning photography. I just moved from the US, and while my husband studied, I took photography lessons at Columbia University. That's my new hobby. I love to shoot pictures of children, especially of my daughter. I don't want to lose a moment.
AT: Who do you admire?
AP: My mother. She's the strongest and the smartest woman that I know and I've learnt everything from her. I've never seen her cry before!