The talk of the town: Cebuano designers culminated the 2017 Manila Fashion Festival

(Photos by Joselito Caleon)

So if you have plans of stealing it, I’m sorry to tell you that it’s locked up in a vault,” Protacio cracked a joke of guarding a particular purchase five years ago that has become his design aegis as exhibited in his latest pieces launched in the capital city.

“I have this book about color guides. Speak of a color, and it will give you a thousand options of combinations—now you know my trade secret.”

We’re not convinced, however, if he did refer to it. We have invested trust on his pure instincts since he began this eponymous line.

And it’s still the same strength now manifesting on his newest Edwardian, seven-piece collection at the 2017 Manila Fashion Festival at the Marquee Tent of Shangri-La Hotel on Edsa Avenue on Oct. 20, Friday.

As treat for the style pack, it was a four-day series of fashion shows culminated by fellow Cebuano designers Philip Rodriguez, Mike Yapching, Philipp Tampus, Marichu Tan, Dino Lloren, Jul Oliva, Dexter Alazas, Jun Escario, and Yvonne Quisumbing.

“It is like bringing back medieval Juliet to present-day life and mix her style with (pop star) Zendaya‘s, or let’s just say medieval design stripped down from all the undergarments,” Protacio described the construction of the silhouettes, especially on the sleeves that determined the period of his inspiration.

Thanks to his classic literature class—the upsized lace gigot sleeves of a peplum blouse, a ruffled bib on a mesh Juliet gown, and a green, floor-sweeping overcoat.

While he is a master in tailoring, a large parcel of the entire ensemble rested on fluidity, sheering to light draping on A-line dresses.

“Even a coat could swing with a slight breath of air. And if a top is coming a bit structured, I paired it with cycling shorts just in case modern-day Romeo picks up his Juliet in a motorbike,” he laughed.

The personality effect

How does one define the style of a country as kaleidoscopically as diverse as ours?

There is, surprisingly, an actual answer to that, a unifying thread that runs through a societal quilt… courtesy of Marichu Tan.

Mural painting of Cebuano communities on the little white dresses all wrapped up the beat of the city.

She developed the progress of the collection with gradual transitions: from a wide cut (the tent) that slowly reduced to a leaner version (the sheath) edged with fringes in another frock.

Customized hats were the primary accessories as well as the embroidery that filled with sequins and beads. Albeit the youthful vibe, she accorded everything with classic necklines and tidy silhouettes. She also created the pattern that has a heart figure and “LY” logo written in longhand that should be read as “lovely”—a twin attached on her lace blouse she wore during the curtain call.

(Photos by Joselito Caleon)

“I am embarrassed because my designs are very young, and I am already very old,” Marichu laughed backstage.

“But I am feeling it. You know I like colors too much. I was looking at tall buildings and translated them into various dress lengths.” There was not an issue of ageism this side because the longevity in the creative circle—more than 25 years—has bestowed the designer the capacity to command the trends toward her direction.

Yvonne Quisumbing’s pieces were as personal, too. An abstract “Y” in multi-colored cutouts (the initial of her first name) was embroidered on the back of the menswear: military jacket with piped carrot pants, inspired by the 1974 film “The Night Porter.”

Most of the items were very easy to wear, either an airy mullet top paired with skinny pants or a blouse that seemingly worn like an inverted cardigan over an A-line, knee-length skirt made of structured strips. “My clothes are very comfortable—something that I like to wear as well,” she shared.

In the details

Only an expert in texture knows how to pile the details in a faultless arrangement as in the case of Jun Escario who layered upsized ruffles, bubble hems, and archetypal bows. Quirky, yet, haute couture in execution: a novelty from him whom we know as the bearer of elegance. It’s in his mastery in sewing, draping, and tailoring altogether that kept everyone in the room thrilled, the same way Jul Oliva found her way to our hearts with her penchant for handcrafted blouses.

Strings were weaved into kimono sleeves and into a fringe cardigan. Squares of varied weaving pattern she has designed in the past were sewn into a sweater over a strapless mini dress.

It begged a question once more: Were the hues too dislocated?

But a trained eye can magnify how she landscaped a color palette that compliments with each other—olive and mustard, navy and rust, gray and purple.

It kind of posits the notion that nothing new can be created in fashion, except for the manner in which the things are chosen and placed together.

Then again, since when should creative people have to toe a conservative line?

TAGS: 2017 Manila Fashion Festival, Cebuano, culminated, designers, of the town, The talk
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