With flamboyance as one of their many common grounds, it is but natural for the worlds of fashion and opera to enchantingly collide. As Greek journalist, author and opera specialist Helena Matheopoulos writes in her book Fashion Designers at the Opera, these two artistic domains are “natural arenas for collaboration.”
Working from London, she cites likes of Dutch fashion house Viktor & Rolf, Italian designer Miuccia Prada, and French fashion designers Emanuel Ungaro and Christian Lacroix as having sought inspiration from performances at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, La Scala, the Metropolitan Opera and the Arènes de Nîmes among others.
Most recently, fashion powerhouse Valentino designed the costume of Violetta, the lead in the Italian tragedy-drama “La traviata” staged at the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome.
In the Philippines too, this opulent collaboration will be the highlight of a benefit show to help victims of the Marawi siege move on and rise up from the tragedy.
Playfully titled “Marawing Salamat [a play on the words Marawi and "maraming salamat,” which of course translates to "thank you very much” in Filipino]: The Best of Opera and Fashion for Marawi,” its organizers have successfully tapped the biggest names in Philippine fashion and the opera scene to mount this very special production.
Two components will comprise the show. The first, dubbed “The Best of Fashion,” is a cultural fashion presentation conceptualized by Fashion Designers Association of the Philippines’ Zardo Austria and directed by Raymond Villanueva and Nathan de Leon.
“The Best of Fashion is actually the biggest fashion for a cause project at this time,” noted Austria at the launch of the benevolent project at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) where the gala will also be held on April 6.
Over 100 fashion and jewelry designers, fashion directors and choreographers, hairstylists and makeup artists, fashion models, muses, beauty queens and celebrity performers have already signed on for the major production, with Austria most proud of course of the roster of top couturiers in the list. They are Edgar Allan, Albert Andrada, Ronaldo Arnaldo, Eddie Baddeo, Delby Bragais, JC Buendia, Tony Cajucom, Jing Chua, Steve de Leon, Peri Diaz, Toni Galang, Rocky Gathercole, Nolie Hans, Roland Lirio, Ricci Lizaso, Jojie Lloren, Edgar Madamba, Jontie Martinez, Ole Morabe, Richard Papa, Oskar Peralta, Lito Perez, Nardie Presa, Barge Ramos, Rholand Roxas, Renee Salud, Ditta Sandico, Edgar San Diego, Fanny Serrano and Lulu Tan Gan.
Adopting the theme “The Pomp and Pageantry of Philippine Carnival Queens,” Austria guaranteed the show will be a spectacle for fashion and pageantry aficionados.
“Did you know that Hollywood designer Gathercole, who dressed the likes of Britney Spears and Katy Perry, created his piece ‘Carnivale Queens’ using inspirations from our Sarimanok?” he cited as proof of the Filipino designer’s natural influence in imagining grandeur.
Austria then gave the stage to a young and seasoned designer, Peri Diaz and Renee Salud respectively to show just what he means. Diaz’ model was clothed in a flouncing tapestry of ruffles, pleats and embroidered roses evoking passion and romance. Salud chose to pay tribute to Muslim Mindanao as he designed the region’s iconic indigenous weaves into a stunning modern version of the Filipino terno.
“The innovative top captures the exuberant spirit of the Maranaos, the natives of Marawi, through their colorful woven fibers, while the voluminous skirt showcases the intricate brocade patterns and the striking metallic threads of the inaul fabric in a classic depiction of the Maguindanao tradition.”
Finally, Oskar Peralta rounded up the preview with a modern-stylized version of the Filipino kimona in black taffeta, dramatized with layers of baroque-inspired flounces, ruffles and pleats, made more dramatic by Swarovski crystals, pearls and rhinestones.
Austria promised more extravagance at the main event amid the music of immortal kundiman tunes and folk songs, and a sprinkling of adorable pop tunes to rev up the runway show.
“The UST Symphony Orchestra, conducted Maestro Herminigildo Ranera, former resident conductor of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, will provide the music, truly making the production a grand display of Filipino ingenuity and cultural heritage all around,” Austria enthused.
‘Best of Opera’
The second component of Marawing Salamat is then titled “The Best of Opera,” and organized by Lyric Opera, a non-profit opera company chaired by celebrated Filipino soprano Maestra Irma Ponce Enrile-Potenciano. Directing this second half is internationally acclaimed filmmaker Carlitos Siguion-Reyna.
Best of Opera will comprise the best-loved opera arias from “Tosca,” “Carmen,” “La Traviata,” “Rigoletto,” “I Pagliacci,” “Lakme,” “La Boheme,” and “Turandot,” among others as interpreted by Lyric Opera Philippines, along with renowned opera tenors Sherwin Sozon, Randy Gilongo and John Glenn Gaerlan, baritone Noel Azcona, sopranos Ana Feleo, Rica Nepumuceno, Mary Patrice Pacis, Ton Ton Pascual and Naomi Sison.
A high point of the gala event will be a special tribute for the opera and fashion icons namely singing legends Irma Potenciano, Fides Cuyugan-Asensio, couple Jose and Tessie Agana-Santos, Armida Siguion-Reyna, and Nomer Son, to name a few.
The fashion society, meanwhile, will acknowledge the Pillars of Philippine Fashion, both living and departed including National Artist Ramon Valera, Jose “Pitoy” Moreno, Ben Farrales, Aureo Alonzo, Christian Espiritu, Joe Salazar and Salvacion Lim-Higgins of Slims.
Tickets to “Marawing Salamat” are now available via Ticketworld.