“He rocked that man-bun!”
So goes one of the fond farewells for noted Filipino fashion designer Gerry Katigbak who passed away on October 10 at the age of 64.
The artist—both a fashion designer and photographer—had always been known for his avant garde style, even in his trademark “samurai-like” image. Often dressed in black with his long hair tied up in his famous bun, the Philippine fashion scene has chosen to remember Katigbak this week for his life and work rather than his untimely death.
His alma mater, University of Santo Tomas, proudly acknowledges Katigbak as a “Thomasian Designer,” having graduated from the College Architecture and Fine Arts graduate. He later took further studies at the New York Visual Arts School, and became known for single-handedly conceptualising, styling and shooting striking fashion spreads.(www.varsitarian.net)
The Philippines’ biggest luxury retailer Rustan’s also fondly recalls Katigbak’s early years as an in-house designer in the 1970s, where he first showed maverick side in unconventional silhouettes and interesting but uncommon fabric choices.
In his succeeding years in the industry, Katigbak always chose to describe his design philosophy as “non-conformist,” with daring gender-blurring and statement collections that often turned his runway shows into theatrical productions.
A staple of the annual Philippine Fashion Week, Katigbak’s last fashion collection in 2014 presented his “French Medieval Rock” suite for men. He was also noted for numerous black and white design series, modernized Japanese-inspired collections, and, as he often described his work, “unorthodox and alternative” looks.
Ever generous with his talent, Katigbak, in recent years, took up teaching fashion classes at St. Benilde and SoFa Design Institute, where he strove to pass on the inspiration to think out of the box and dare to be different to young minds.
With this—and the fond memories of colleagues, fashion models, photographers, stylists, and friends—there is much hope that Katigbak’s much admired “daredevil” ways will continue to make Philippine fashion as interesting as he made it to be.
As he once said in an interview with Asian Journal, “Break the rules . . . [find the]source of inspiration to be more creative. Experiment . . . and make [your]own fashion statement.”
Rest in peace, and thank you, Gerry Katigbak.