Fashion reset

FIVE Filipino designers showed their mettle late last month in Singapore’s first virtual fashion show. The project, conceptualized by Daniel Boey, with the cooperation of AP Media, was presented in the last days of August via an immersive 3D website, The show featured several local and regional designers from the Asia-Pacific area.

The Filipino designers presented their lines collectively in a fashion film called Inception, The Pilipinas Project. The designers were Jesus “Jojie” Lloren, Paolo Raymundo of Paradox Vested Relics, Ezra Santos, Bea Samson, and Furne One. The film was helmed by Creative Director Ariel Lozada, with video direction by Paolo Abella.

A veteran fashion designer and TV personality, Mr. Lloren showed a collection of curated pieces from past collections. His segment was filmed in a manner that was both hypnotic and meditative, appropriate for a collection called “Faith is My Shelter.” It begins with a dress reminiscent of the paintings of Piet Mondrian, except where one usually thinks of solid and opaque blocks of color, Mr. Lloren’s collection is made of sheer and light fabric, creating a dissonance in the construction’s strict geometry and its material. Next came a model dressed in a black window skirt, with a black square on a sheer beaded background on the bodice. The effect serves to make the torso negative space for the rest of the body. The look is completed by a salakot (a Philippine cone-shaped hat) draped with a black veil.

More opulent creations succeed this, showing off a shining leopard suit under a leopard opera coat, and gray hoods and cloaks topping off a dress with fabric pieces depicting a church. Both of these outfits were interspersed with their original sketches. A yellow dress, meanwhile, had pleats on the bodice’s bust and shoulders, folded in a way that suggested the pages of a book. Finally, elbow-length plum gloves and a leather cowl serve to frame a statement rendered in beadwork: “Ginapos ako ng mga mananakop; sinakal at pinagsamantalahan (I was chained by the invaders, strangled and abused).”

Meanwhile, Mr. Santos, a Dubai-based designer known to dress royalty, showed a collection of lovely sheer gowns dressed up with gold and crystals. Beautifully draped, with clearly elaborate work and almost Byzantine detail, it gives a glimpse of the lifestyle of those people Mr. Santos usually dresses. The end of his segment transitions to a black dress in feathers and tulle, the dress sweeping a staircase as it moved upward.

Mr. One, a compatriot and Dubai contemporary of Mr. Santos, showed his collection via music video clips and award show honors in a segment called “Stars Shine in The Dark.” Mr. One showed videos of the celebrities who have worn his clothes, while wearing them: we noted Katy Perry, Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Mariah Carey, and Ariana Grande, though there were some we might have missed.

Meanwhile, less opulent creations were shown by relatively young designers Mr. Raymundo and Ms. Samson. Mr. Raymundo’s brand Paradox Vested Relics showed avant-garde clothes made with upcycled materials, or at least the notion of them; Ms. Samson showed delightful printed silks suggestive of paintings and portals.

The designers and the directors were interviewed after the film by talk show veteran Boy Abunda. Mr. Abella, who directed the film, said, “I think early on, when we were conceptualizing with Ariel (Lozada), we didn’t want to just do a simple runway show video. Not even a traditional fashion film. It was really more of a hybrid between fashion film, brand video — something that kind of communicates more ideologies and the creative process of the designer, rather than a particular collection.”

“We wanted to highlight the designers, and get the people to know them, what their clothes are about, what their designs are about, and let that be the highlight; not a particular piece, or a particular collection,” he said during an interview on YouTube late last month.

Mr. Lozada, meanwhile, said, “Fashion at the moment is in a very indecisive state. It doesn’t know where it’s going. The reason why I said ‘yes’ to this project — I was trying to go with the reset process, and wanted to make sure that our piece would be an introduction of designers. We have no intention of selling the clothes, neither selling ourselves — or market ourselves. I was more into image perception.”

“I’m optimistic. I know that fashion does survive this, as it has survived world crises before,” said Mr. Lloren, responding to a question about his thoughts on the pandemic. “Now I’m working on making my designs more sustainable. I’m still studying the market. What does the market want, post-COVID? Is it something that I can do? Is there something I can offer them, that would make them interested in having clothes by me?”

On the same theme, Mr. Raymundo said, “Creativity can never be obsolete. Invention will never be obsolete. Fashion will never be obsolete. I think fashion as an extension of culture, is human nature. It will just evolve.”

See the show and the interview here: Note that the video is occasionally taken down because of Furne One’s section that uses the music of the artists he has dressed. — Joseph L. Garcia

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