Monday, April 30, 2012

Francis Libiran Gives Hello Kitty a Fierce Look

The creations of Philippine Fashion Designer Francis Libiran were featured in the 8th episode of "America's Nex Top Model" Cycle 18: British Invasion that was aired in the United States last April 25, 2012. Francis Libiran was asked to create Hello Kitty-inspired couture dresses for the show's top seven contestant's photo shoot challenge.
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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Manila Wear - Celebration of Philippine Fashion and Tropical Lifestyle

It was perhaps the first time in Philippine Fashion history that clothes and Fashion Accessories were bigger than their designers. Eyeing the global market, 21 of the country’s top apparel and accessories designers joined the recent “Manila Wear” show at SMDC Grand Showroom, Pasay City.
Billed as a celebration of Philippine design and tropical lifestyle, the show was the main feature in Manila FAME’s fashion component. Each Philippine Fashion designer presented a five-piece “tropical wear” collection that combined creative uses of indigenous materials and techniques with imported fabrics and components for the high-end world market. Apart from doing away with conventional ramp in favor of raised platforms, where models either stood or sat still, the organizers, led by New York-based designer and event curator Josie Natori, simply allowed the items instead of their designers to speak for themselves.

Promotional materials for guests and buyers at the entrance were flyers containing the designers’ sketches and brief info about them and their collections. Many in the audience familiar with their work were also left guessing as to who did what, as most of the designers had to work outside their signature looks and comfort zones, incorporating local fabrics like dyed piña and abaca with more conventional ones like cotton and jersey. Rajo Laurel even juxtaposed native fabrics fashioned into coats, wraps and tops with sequined and tailored pieces.
Other designers such as Joey Samson and Randy Ortiz incorporated Philippine-style embroidery and beadwork in their collections. The show also featured the works of accessories designer Gerry Sunga and Arnel Papa, and shoe designer Maco Custodio. Apart from following Natori’s guidelines, Ortiz’s main considerations were pricing and producing viable pieces. He used embroidery to help the country’s artisans and to make each piece look “expensive,” he said.

None of the designers was confined to indigenous materials, silhouettes and techniques. “The main point of this undertaking is not to do a Filipiniana collection, but to advance Pinoy fashion that would appeal to a global market,” said Ortiz. Not a few went for looser yet contemporary silhouettes. JC Buendia, who used mostly abaca and cotton, and Dennis Lustico, also followed Natori’s color forecast by dying their fabrics in such bold shades as saffron, egg-yolk yellow, turquoise, avocado and lemon.
“I’m quite comfortable doing tailored pieces,” said Buendia. “The real challenge for me was working on new materials I’m not very familiar with.” While Buendia drew inspiration from how well-heeled denizens of gated seaside communities dress, Lustico, who also did tailored and draped separates using piña, cotton and abaca, channeled luxe ’50s beach wear. “For me, respecting material like piña without compromising the draped and twisted look, which was part of my vision, was the challenge,” said Lustico.

Samson, who did away with color, had a different set of challenges to deal with in fashioning updated versions of the barong, using various textures, materials, and treatments like embroidery, beadwork and suksuk. “I’ve always found it difficult to work with colors,” he said. “It’s a good thing they allowed me to stick to a neutral palette.” None of them seemed to mind that the show did away with the usual introduction of designers. There was also talk that the designers were first asked to do seven pieces, but Natori allegedly stepped in and brought down the number to five.
It was a fashion exhibit more than a show, as guests were encouraged to see up close the pieces on live mannequins. As each cluster of models wearing a designer’s collection exited a platform after 10 minutes or so, another group entered the scene. This presentation went on for almost two hours until it was time for Natori to introduce the designers. The other designers: Inno Sotto, Vittorio Barba, Cesar Gaupo, OJ Hofer and Jojie Lloren for apparel; and Pepito Albert, TC Alvarez-Sibal, Jun Artajo, Joel Escober, Lulu Tan-Gan, Adante Layesa, Joyce Makitalo and Patrice Ramos-Diaz for fashion accessories.

In a press conference held days before the show, Natori expressed her desire to reintroduce the Filipino fashion aesthetic first to a global market. It is hoped that the branding effort will eventually benefit not only the evening’s designers, but will also trickle down to the country’s weavers and artisans. She encouraged designers to focus on pieces that would appeal to the high-end resort market.
“I’m not saying we shouldn't do suits,” she said. “But I believe it is in resort wear where we have the materials and design edge to be noticed globally.” 
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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Philippine Fashion Designers Take London

London was bedazzled, to say the least, when top Philippine Fashion Designers showcased the best of the Philippines in front of  the royals and the movers and shakers of this cosmopolitan city. The Ayala Foundation together with the London-based organization Prospero World presented an ambitious philanthropic event dubbed “The London Philippine Fashion Show” to raise funds for the projects of Center of Excellence in Public Elementary Education or CENTEX at the historical Victoria House in London.
Guests present at the event were Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece and his lovely wife Princess Marie Chantal. Members of the organizing team were Mercedes Zobel and Gloal Foundation for Humanity founder Jacqueline de Chollet. Fernando Zobel de Ayala, president and chief operating officer of the Ayala Corporation welcomed the distinguished guests and organizers to the event and presented a brief but meaningful picture of the Philippines. He also stressed that any philanthropic support will best be maximized in areas of education, art and culture, environment and sustainable environment which are the core advocacies of Ayala Foundation.

Furthermore, Zobel de Ayala highlighted another important detail that evening beyond raising funds for CENTEX. “Tonight, we also present to you the creativity and craftmanship of  Philippine Fashion Designers  that is truly world class.” Zobel de Ayala declared with pride. The select-Filipino designers who participated at the event were jewelry and Fashion Accessory designers Wyn Wyn Ong, Joyce Makitalo and Celestina; fashion designers Cary Santiago, Michael Cinco, Josie Natori, Rajo Laurel, Frederico de Vera, Jasper Garvida, Jun Escario, Lulu Tan Gan, Mich Dulce and London-based designer Lesley Mobo.

Among all the participating designers only Wyn Wyn Ong, Lulu Tan Gan, Michael Cinco, Mich Dulce and Lesley Mobo made it to the event. “I felt so proud of being Filipino as I watched the works of our designers. Filipino talent is world-class!” Bea Zobel Jr. proudly declared after the show. Lulu Tan Gan and her daughter Jessica were to me the best dressed ladies of the evening. They were of course wearing their signature knitwear that creates a modern look of the Filipiniana. Michael Cinco and Cary Santiago’s haute couture collections were the crowd favorite. Princess Marie Chantal remembers vividly the details of Cinco’s white dresses and Santiago’s black column dresses when we had a short chat.

This event was indeed a triumph of the Filipinos in London. A true moment of Pinoy Pride in a global stage.
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Friday, April 13, 2012

RIIR & Rajo Laurel: Athletenique - A Rags-to-Riches Dream in Manila

A recent fashion show in Manila's business district was in full swing, with models walking the runway slinging brightly colored purses of different styles from Philippine Fashion powerhouse Rajo Laurel's latest collection. The high-fashion purses have come a long way from their humble beginnings: floor mats made of old rags discarded in one of the largest dump sites in the Philippines.
The evolution of the rags to riches started five years ago with a vision held by a Jesuit seminarian who was assigned to a parish at the Payatas dumpsite, northeast of Manila; about 60,000 people live around the dump's fringe. Father Xavier Alpasa said he saw exploitation flourishing as he ministered in this deeply impoverished community.

Women were buying dumpsite scraps that scavengers picked and sewing them into rugs to be sold commercially. "Middlemen were coming in and buying the rugs at 9 pesos and selling them to department stores for 35 pesos," Father Alpasa said. "Then I was asking, 'Where did all the profit go? Why is it all going to the middlemen? How come the women would only get 1 peso as a profit?'"

Father Alpasa, who is known as "Father Javy" (pronounced "HAH-vee"), was a successful professional for 10 years before he was called to the priesthood. He took on the role of middleman for the women. At their first bazaar the rugs sold out in an hour. Father Alpasa and several friends who wanted to help tapped Laurel for ideas on how to make the rugs more marketable.

Laurel took the rugs and, in one evening, created Fashion Accessory concepts out of the big squares. Folding the material, he saw wine-bottle holders, wallets and purses. He said he no longer saw rags. So the for-profit fashion company Rags 2 Riches was born with a goal of doing good while also increasing its bottom line.

"We coined the name Rags 2 Riches because it is what it is. It is that, and richness can be defined in many ways, not just financially. For me (it can be defined) morally," Laurel said. Father Alpasa encouraged a budding entrepreneur and Payatas volunteer teacher, Reese Fernandez-Ruiz, to take the reins as president when she was 22. She said the last five years have been "a ride."

"It's been life-changing both for me and for the artisans that we're supporting," Fernandez-Ruiz said. "It always validates the belief that there is hope in the world, and you can really do something to make other people rise above poverty." Today the weavers fill orders for Rags 2 Riches, making quality rugs and high-end accessories out of garment factory leftovers, organic materials and indigenous fabrics. They sell at specialty boutiques in five-star hotels and high-end malls, so each piece is made to very high standards.

With the bar set high, the weavers who attended the fashion show said they do not mind doing the work over and over again. "But I keep on trying," she said. "It's really a challenge to have it accepted because, unless it's accepted, you're just not fulfilled. It would be like (doing all that work for) nothing. ... Besides, you're earning." Father Alpasa explained that a larger share of profits goes directly to the makers, while about 20-40 percent of the price of any one product is invested in operations, for now. In Laurel's line, a small clutch purse sells for close to $50; a larger tote runs about $120.

The artisans work from home and are paid per piece, which gives them time to raise their families. They have the potential to earn the minimum wage of $10 per day or for every eight hours worked. Individuals can earn more as trainers. The company also provides education in financial literacy, business operation and family values formation. The skills learned can be a lifeline for someone who comes from a poor community where the average family's size is six and there is barely enough to feed the children.

Rosanna Alipao was one of the first rug makers from Payatas. She said her husband once regarded her work as a waste of time. "Now, he doesn't have any work," Alipao said. "That's what is putting food on the table for us now." Alipao's husband recently joined the group of weavers, which has seen a few men enter its ranks. The group has swelled to 550 from the original three. 

A few dozen members have formed the Rags 2 Riches cooperative that manages production, and they expect to see dividends once the company becomes profitable. Profitability is just around the corner, according to Fernandez-Ruiz, who said the company is growing exactly as the founders dreamed. The founding partners are looking ahead to the next five years when they expect to employ at least 3,000 more weavers in the hope of filling orders for international fashion retailers. 
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Friday, April 6, 2012

Happy Andrada as Miami Fashion Weeks International Emerging Designer of the Year

This is a great news for Philippine Fashion pride, Happy Andrada is taking Filipino talent farther across the globe to greater heights. As a young Philippine fashion designer, Happy continually surprises and amazes the Fashion world with her talent and creativity. In the USA, Happy recently won Miami Beach International Fashion Week’s Emerging Designer of the Year 2012. Happy bested hundreds of entries from 25 different countries. Certainly that is a reason why Filipinos everywhere should be happy!
Happy inspires Filipino pride and is on a winning streak and her multiple achievements such as;
  • Swatch watch Enter the Dragon Competition 2012
  • Fashion Design Council of the Philippines Smart Choice Winner in Weaving the Future Competition
  • Grand Prize winner for Swatch watch My Rabbit story 2011
  • Inspiring Young Filipino Entrepreneur by Go Negosyo last 2010
  • represented the Philippines in Art & Fashion Week (Toronto, Canada)
  • Top Styl Designer event (Czech Republic)
  • Fashion Art Exhibit (Netherlands)
  • Animax featured designer in Toy, Games & Comic Convention (Singapore)
  • International Fashion Art Biennale (Korea)
  • Fashion Design Competition (Japan)
To toast to Happy’s recent victories, a party was held in her honor, which coincided with the fifth anniversary of Fashion ART (F*ART), a store she co-owns with her sister, Viva. This celebration was a fun-filled night of fashion, art, music, photography and poetry. There were poetry readings and performances by Kooky Tuason, Marty Tengco, Charms Tianzon, Raul Roco Jr., andRichard Tuason. Live music flowed throughout the evening by Deejay Poblete, Noah Zuniga, Jeff Pagaduan, JP Hernandez, and Diwa de Leon. Comedian Stanley Chi tickled the funny bones of guests. This event was hosted by Frida Nepomuceno. Happy’s newest fashion collection was photographed and mounted on walls by lensman Darrel Pobre.
F*ART is a store conceptualized by creative sisters, Happy and Viva, who want to give space for Filipino talent to bloom and grow. Viva and Happy are amazed with what Filipinos can do. They believe in Filipino talent. They encourage others to be proud of what Filipinos can do. Since its onset in 2007, F*ART has consistently been a place where young, fast rising Filipino fashion designers and artists showcase the best of what they have to offer. F*ART has upcoming activities: Opening exhibit of “Tattoo My Colors” by Katrina Pallon and Raul Roco Jr. on April 14, Art Talks on April 21, a live art session featuring Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School Manila on April 28 and Meneer Marcelo’s art workshops in April and May.
Happy is known for her unique detail work, specialized craftmanship, and her groundbreaking style. Making every design her masterpiece, Happy is a perennial show stopper at the Philippine Fashion Week since 2006. To date she has already had more than 50 Fashion Shows. To top it all off, as Happy promotes her personal best of Filipino fashion and art to the world, she is gaining a steady following of loyal customers who spread the word on how she helps them look their best. When her customers are happy, that makes Happy even happier.

Happy sells her Ready To Wear line at her website and showcases her creations at F*ART Fashion ART located in 24 J. Erestain cor.K-1st, Kamuning, Quezon City
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