Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Daily Tribune Review of Philippine Fashion Week 07

By Carlomar Arcangel Daoana, Staff Writer


Something curious happened to me: I sailed to the first row of Philippine Fashion Week’s finale at Glorietta effortlessly. If you don’t know it yet, the first row is the “place to be seen,” the gold standard in any fashion show’s seating arrangement. Slumping beside fashion designer Frederick Peralta, I was confronted by the long runway not unlike the one used by actual planes to take off. The Glorietta crowd on the second floor encircling the stage looked like expectant relatives of homecoming folks, ready to spring for an embrace and shed a tear or two.

I don’t know if I should consider it luck sitting at the privileged spot, biding my time. First, I’d be privy to the chismis, not of my seatmates, but of the clothes—loose thread, fraying edges, sloppy constructions. Second, if a model would inevitably trip, I’d be at the receiving end of her crashing body, though I may still escape unscathed, considering how bone-light models’ bodies are. And third, I’d be the unwitting witness to an untalented designer’s failure to launch, his career beginning and ending at the runway.

Nervously, I shifted my weight from one side of my body to the other. I began wishing that I had shared the viewing deck with the mall rats instead. Clothes, washed out and made to look serious and fail-proof by the light, would appear heavenly and desirable from that distance. Relieved by the tremendous weight to make a judgment, I’d be just high-fiving whoever was standing beside me, guilt-free.

There seemed no escaping fate, however. It’s a hard job, but someone has to do it. I could just wipe the blood off my hands on my made-to-measure pants so I won’t taint the pages of The Devil Wears Prada, which I have read a dozen times to remind myself that people like Anna Wintour exist.

And then, slowly, the clothes began to trickle, like goo. The show hasn’t felt like a finale yet, which is almost always visually stunning, knocking the breath out of your lungs, like fireworks. The clothes felt they belonged to the walk-in closet of a socialite, who happens to be a serial killer by day. Weird-looking all right, but no depth. Was Coco Chanel right after all, that fashion doesn’t share the same skin as art?

But brilliance sputtered here and there, chiefly in the collection of Don Protasio, who referenced religious wear and updated it via metallic fabric. Imagine jusi and vintage barong delightfully conflicting with touches of silver, evoking worship and whimsicality. Coming in a close second was Jerome Lorico with his stitch-and-wear look using a gamut of materials: rubber, leather, metal, plastic, silicone. His ensemble was sadomasochism with a flair and looked every bit ready to rumble.

But one need not be experimental to appear current, relevant. I admired every bit of Harley Ruedas’s ouevre—simple, structured pieces of pants and shirts in neutral hues jazzed up with appliques of painted, sinuous figures. Being a model gave Carol Garcia an edge: her dresses, in breezy floral fabrics, evoked the easy-going, light-heartedness of summer. I am, however, ambivalent towards the works of Ivan dela Cruz. His play of fabrics with polar opposite textures (the roughness of cotton-knitted yarn and the fluency of satin) was ingenious, but the construction slacked in some places.

Haute couture was delivered in strong doses by Gener Gozum, who offered a velvety and rich collection of ball dresses in taffeta, underscored by paisley designs and metallic tulle lace, foaming to the brim with ribbons and lace. Philip Torres, meanwhile, offered a two-pronged collection: flowing, immaculate dresses in the lightest of fabrics on one hand and upbeat, delicious gowns in the richest shantung silk on the other. The designer is a master at fabrication, articulating nuances of luxury and opulence.

The big-name designers did not make an appearance, or perhaps they were not made to appear. The show threatened an ending on a flat note. The models sashayed in a single file, signifying that the show would be over. But wait! Fashion Week’s main forces, brothers Audie and Joey Cordero, were called on the stage. The models, the most expressionless lot, broke into tears. The whole Glorietta was droning with applause, like baby firecrackers simultaneously being lit. The atmosphere was heavy with achievement.

Philippine Fashion Week, on its 10th year, had arrived.

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