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Odd is the new black

Arnold Galang, Don Sevilla, Drei Soriano, Edgar Buyan, Ulysses King      

MANILA, Philippines - Contrary to what’s on the streets, menswear, within the confines of the Philippine Fashion Week runway, is on the verge of a breakthrough. Along the sidewalks of our CBDs you’ll find the same polo shirt, tie and slacks ensemble in the morning, jogging attire at night. In some corners of the metro you’ll find the occasional punk wearing a Sex Pistols shirt, or a random prepster wearing a bowtie with his crewneck. But ninjas in skorts? You’ll only find those at SMX, doing ninja walks on the runway of Drei Soriano, among other wonderfully odd creations by the rest of the designer crew that showed on their holiday 2013 menswear looks.

Odd is great. Odd is good. This is what I told myself while taking Instagram photos of the runway looks (partly because I’m also afraid that I might lose my account for not using the Instagram cam). Now and then, a series of ho-hum looks would pass us by, but the general consensus of the audience was: “This look works if not for the (insert piece of clothing or accessory).” This is a good thing: reaction-inducing or thought-provoking fashion –– instead of the usual blah shirt-and-pants ensemble –– on the runway.

Edgar Buyan played with mixed prints. One pink, tropical print look –– the same print for the shirt, pants and backpack –– was special. It was fun and funny. It’s still true that fashion that doesn’t take itself too seriously is still the best kind.

Then there was Drei Soriano and his gang of ninjas clad in black, white and red double knits, neoprene and leather, paying an homage to Japanese culture also by using a dyeing technique called shibbori. Taken apart, every piece appears wearable. Together, it was quite the show –– simple, focused and visually interesting.

Don Sevilla II delivered a collection of ready-to-wear pieces that echo the colors of the forest. Mustard, brown, green and grays become new neutrals. His trousers are contoured and cut –– some low in the front but curved upward on the sides –– to allow the wearer some agility.

Arnold Galang threw in prints of Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man in some of his pieces, adding interest to all-white looks, which came alongside cool camo combos and belted black suits. The mixing of fabrics and “subversive details,” as he calls them, rendered the collection called “Black Haven” a steampunk vibe, intentional or not.

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Baroque was the inspiration behind Ulysses King’s collection. Black, white and gray Egyptian cotton, dobby cotton, wool and satin polyester were used to create structured, intricate pieces that reflect the architecture of the period. A generous helping of religious bling drove the point home.

Menswear at Philippine Fashion Week always delivers a good balance of sane and insane. This year, it falls into odd coordinates, blurring the lines between what’s wearable and what’s just for show –– or is it our mindset that has changed? Have men’s closets become more accepting of adventure? I guess we’ll find out next season. Photos by Nelson Villarica



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