Philippine fashion continues to spread its wings. This was proven by the third year and sixth season of the Manila Fashion Festival (MFF)—a bi-annual runway event—which successfully held its run from March 21 to 24 at The Marquee in Edsa Shangri-La Manila. Reputed as one of the biggest and most anticipated fashion events in the country, the festival served as kick off on what to expect for summer trends this year.
“We want to position the Manila Fashion Festival as ‘The Fashion Event in Southeast Asia.’ As you know New York started fashion weeks, and then Milan, London etc. From there the concept moved to the Far East—Tokyo, Seoul and Shanghai. But after that, it hasn’t gone anywhere else in Southeast Asia so we are trying to make our shows even bigger,” Ronnie Cruz, CEO of MFF producer Art Personas told The Manila Times in an exclusive interview.
“Fundamentally we’re here to showcase Filipino fashion talents and highlight their works to the world. Why? Because we have great talents here; we can be the fashion hub of Southeast Asia at least. More importantly we are also here to help; this is not a show to massage anyone’s ego, this is not a show to make a celebrity out of people. We have one mission in mind, that is to revolutionize the way fashion is presented not just in the Philippines but in the world,” Cruz added.
An impressive collection from a roster of pioneer, emerging, and even new breed fashion designers and brands indeed comprised the four-day event with Pablo Cabahug, Azucar, Cheetah Rivera, Jaz Cerezo and Veejay Floresca opening the festival on March 21.
Inspired by a quote from German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld—“We live in a dark and romantic and quite tragic world”—Cabahug’s collection interpreted the madness and inner workings of the human mind in the form of grotesque and sharp fabrics. He called his pieces “Dark Romanticism,” which is his take on the darker realm of indulgent fashion.
A line of resort wear perfect for a French getaway was the theme of Azucar, dubbed “Trip to St. Tropez”. Her collection channeled the holiday vibe of the South of France on a warm summer day with pieces that are comfortable yet imbibe the look of a sophisticated jet-setter. Azucar also combined embossed lace, embroidered beaded lace and colorful and festive prints on her designs.
Meanwhile, dedicating her collection to her mother, Rivera named her collection “Mu Ai” which means “A Mother’s Love” in Mandarin. She created simple but dynamic pieces with clean lines and silhouettes, focusing on proportions. Rivera also applied minimalist approaches to dressmaking to highlight the woman’s natural form.
A collection that featured the disco fashion was then presented by Cerezo for “Psyche.” She emphasized a woman’s figure by “enhancing her assets” with ‘70s silhouettes.
Floresca on the other hand, whipped up whimsical creations for the present-day princesses in a collection called “Enchanted.” The designer said his inspiration is the enchanting world of fairies and goddesses, which were expressed in evening dresses in tulle, chiffon, taffeta, and lace with elegant embellishments.
On March 22, the designers featured were Darirué, Reyna Chukada, ESME, Mae-Ann Veloso, CJ Martin, PHILIPS, Jinggay Serag Anthony Ramirez, ARIN, Daryl Maat and Martin Baustista; while March 23 presented a graduation showcase by SoFa Design Institute students, as well as collections from Sassa Jiminez, Renan Pacson, Chris Diaz, Brit Tripulado and Jun Jun Ablaza.
Finally, on closing night, Manila Fashion Festival gave the grand finale to established designers Randy Ortiz, Vic Barba, Rhett Eala, and clothing brand Folded & Hung.
Ortiz’ collection in “In:di:go” took on a deep exploration of denim. He said of his choice, “Denim’s legacy transcends the boundaries of time, showcasing its shades, and textures combined into various silhouettes and forms. With the color indigo resonating to the soul, this line is inspired by the virtues of dignity, integrity and deep sincerity captured.”
Barba, meanwhile, took on muted hues and structured cuts in “Grey Matters.” His collection played with the said color with fragments of cloud and concrete in every piece. Barba also took cues from ashes and overcast skies to create a defined collection.
The showstopper was Miss Universe Philippines 2016 Maxine Medina who took on the runway with a gown by her designer for the pageant, Rhett Eala. Her embellished nude gown is part of his collection aptly dubbed, “Queen”, and which also featured the iconic pageant gowns Medina wore during the Miss Universe competition in January.
According to Eala, he had never made a pageant gown before the Manila staging of the beauty contest. Medina apparently challenged him to produce gowns worthy for a queen to wear with pride and confidence. His touch gave the “pageant gown” a fresh, new look with streamlined silhouettes and tasteful embellishments, but no less attention-grabbing with bold colors and striking details.
Meanwhile, fashion brand Folded & Hung channeled the fun vibe of the summer season with its newest collection for beach getaways and vacations. The runway saw a spattering of celebrity endorsers including It’s Showtime #Hashtags Zeus Collins, Jameson Blake, Ryle Santiago, Luke Conde and Meant To Be stars Ivan Dorschner, and Jak Roberto.