London calling
B HIVE - Bianca Salonga (The Philippine Star) - April 4, 2015 - 10:00am

London is one of the most exciting style capitals in the world as it has long prided itself for being the birthplace of innovative fashion. Home to fashion greats like the late great Alexander McQueen and fashion sweetheart Stella McCartney, London’s status as the top fashion capital of the world may be greatly accredited to the unparalleled quality of education it offers to aspiring talents from around the world who aspire to carve their name in the fashion industry.

Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art, for instance, have churned out some of the most brilliant talents in fashion. A few shining examples include Greece’s Mary Kantrantzou and Roksanda Ilincic of Serbia. To say the least, the city has nurtured, developed and uncannily recognized daring, raw talent.

Coinciding with London Fashion Week last February was the International Fashion Showcase (IFS). An event that aims to emphasize the role that London plays as the birthplace for the ground-breaking — even radical — fashion creators, the International Fashion Showcase brings together emerging talent from all over that world to present their distinctive takes on style.

This year, the Philippines presented six forward-thinking designers and artists Ken Samudio, Michelline Syjuco, Tony Evan, John Herrera, Jaggy Glarino and Renan Pacson to exhibit pieces inspired by Philippine folklore. The exhibit, curated by theater designer Gino Gonzales, was one of the most attended during the event, with fashion opinion makers like Vogue US editor Sarah Mower frequenting the space to rave about the pieces by our very own local talents. Further cementing the success of the Philippine delegation this year, was the fact that accessory designer Ken Samudio was awarded first runner-up for the Best Designer category, besting 109 designers from all over the globe.

 

Ken Samudio

Known for creating ornate and intricate accessories that are often likened to underwater corals and seascapes, Ken Samudio’s body of work consistently celebrates natural and organic forms found in nature. His background in Marine Biology and advocacy for preserving the environment is most apparent in his use of up-cycled beads and water plastic bottles combined with abaca and bamboo fibers that are impeccably hand-crafted using traditional techniques to create contemporary sculptural pieces. 

His collection for IFS, a collection of headpieces that demonstrate the transformation of humans into a dark mythical creature locally referred to as aswangs (dark mythical creatures from Philippine folklore) astounded with its remarkable detail and exquisite construction. Dubbed Asphyxia, the collection bagged for Samudio not only first runner-up in the Best Designer category, but it also captured the attention and admiration of international fashion media, buyers, retailers and critics. 

Last year, Samudio was selected by Vogue Italia as one of the accessory designers to watch out for in 2014. What makes his brand relevant is that Samudio advocates the use of sustainable and indigenous materials in creating statement accessories that exude global luxe appeal. His sense of social responsibility is reflected in his solid team of skilled artisans (all of whom are disadvantaged women) who work tirelessly to create some of the most astounding pieces to hit this year’s fashion stage.

 

Michelline Syjuco

More than a designer, Michelline Syjuco is also an artist whose approach to creating accessories utilizes the principles of sculpture to tell a story. Her pieces for the IFS highlight the use of both wood and metals (in the form of bullet shells, metal sheets, nuts and bolts and other pre-fabricated materials) to come up with jewelry and accessories that are hauntingly arresting as they are quirky.

More than being a showcase, her work is a narrative of her surroundings that the events that have taken place. Her collection for this year’s IFS, for instance, makes use of wood from fallen trees from the last super typhoon to hit the Philippines. If there was a brilliant storyteller in the fashion industry today, it would definitely be Syjuco.

 

Tony Evan

One simply cannot ignore the dramatic flair that Tony Evan brings to the fore. One whose natural inclination has been to astound and leave an audience in complete awe, Evan has learned the art of restraint, which he beautifully showcases in his presentation for the IFS. Often inspired by religious images and biblical symbolism, Evan presents a collection of headpieces that transport one to a time and place long forgotten. He achieves this through well-thought-out lines and seams using unexpected material such as cables, chicken buckets, drinking straws, natural fibers and tree barks. His point of reference remains historical and cultural while the end result is nothing short of remarkable.

 

John Herrera

It takes a certain type of individual to wear a John Herrera piece. To say that his work is cutting edge is an understatement and for this reason, his name has resonated among fashion insiders who are at awe over his mastery of pattern creation and construction. Further adding depth to his work is the fact that he chooses to apply his signature laser-cut details onto indigenous fabrics made from banana fibers, pineapple silk and silk cocoon. Impressively, and in true Herrera fashion, he is able to balance our traditional elements with contemporary design sensibilities, resulting in pieces that challenge convention and push limits.

 

Jaggy Glarino

Undeniably a fashion talent to look out for this year, Jaggy Glarino is turning heads with his signature woven knits. His pieces consistently champion the use of organic cottons sourced from local pineapple and jute fabrics. Glarino’s brilliance shines brightest through his ability to manipulate fabrics into distinctive shapes and dimensions. His body of work is testament to his dedication in promoting indigenous Philippine fibers, presenting them as viable material suited for creation of stylishly luxe pieces. His experimental play with texture and superb technique in construction furthermore reinforce his keen eye for detail and vision for new patterns.

 

Renan Pacson

The Renan Pacson brand was built on the concept of luxury streetwear. His pieces are essentially young, modern and designed to allow for movement and versatility. But more than his ability to translate cutting-edge concepts into something that is relatable and commercially viable, Pacson’s work simultaneously echoes with underground, sinuous undertones that make it distinctive even from within a sartorial sea. His signature coats — all created in outsized proportions — are made utilizing local fibers, echoing his advocacy for promoting the local weaving community from his hometown of Nueva Ecija. What makes his work for this year’s show most covetable to the stylish set is that it is easy to integrate into one’s existing wardrobe while remaining ever inventive in terms of fabric use. That his pieces are also available in cult style hubs like Antwerp in Belgium speak volumes of his mastery over gender-egalitarian fashion.

 

Photography by RXANDY CAPINPIN • Styling by RYUJI SHIOMITSU • Makeup by VICTOR LOONG for Makeup Secrets School • Hairstyling by ANALIE PABILAR for Makeup Secrets School •  Models: Krystal Espiritu, Sanya Smith and Inna Gavrylenko for Ideal People

 

 

ACIRC FASHION JOHN HERRERA KEN SAMUDIO MICHELLINE SYJUCO NBSP PHILIPPINE PIECES QUOT STRONG TONY EVAN
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