Fashion and Beauty

All in the family

SHOPSIFTED - Ana G. Kalaw -
It may have taken 11 years, but it was certainly worth the wait. A little more than a decade after establishing Silk Cocoon, the boutique that has become the local weaving industry’s biggest benefactor, mother-and-daughter designer tandem Jean and Katrina Goulbourn finally presented their first major fashion show as a team.

Aptly called "Tapestry," the Silk Cocoon spectacle is a testament to a decade’s worth of dedication and ingenuity on the part of Jean and Katrina, as well as that of Jean’s sister, Frances Lim (who handles administrative duties at the Silk Cocoon factory). Jean Goulbourn’s last major fashion show was 12 years ago, prior to Silk Cocoon opening shop. Since then, she and daughter Katrina haven’t staged anything that would put their brand, or their partnership, solely in the limelight. "Either we would just join collective fashion shows or we would have mini-shows separately," explains Katrina.

Nothing was compromised for this first major undertaking. Not time (planning started almost a year ago in December 2004), not creativity (Jean and Katrina came up with 54 ensembles showcasing the varying possibilities of silk weaving), not labour of love (some of the pieces needed weeks just to hand-bead).

Even the elements of nature weren’t excused from their role in the fashion show. The show’s pieces were inspired by air, water, earth, wood, metals and fire. "We wanted to do something that represented the environment because of the nature of weaving and because the indigenous materials we use in our designs are from the environment," says Katrina.

The "Air" segment encapsulated fantasy in white. Sheer pieces of fabric were fashioned into structured, more avant-garde designs. To symbolize water, more fluid materials, such as satin, were combined with piña and abaca silk fabric, and were heavily embellished with gifts from the sea – pearls and shells. The "Earth" segment was reserved for more wearable pieces, jauntily modelled by some of society’s most visible personalities. YStyle’s Celine Lopez and JR Isaac cruised the catwalk in silk denim separates, Silk Cocoon’s newest hip creation. L’Oreal’s Angelique Villaraza and Tina Tinio, as well as Culte Femme designer Hindy Tantoco sashayed in flirty, color-decked ensembles.

"Wood" was given its due by African-inspired designs that made use of tactile hand-woven leather, typically used for home textiles, but innovatively transformed into sleek long dresses for the show. The most colorful part of the show, the "Metal" segment displayed a maelstrom of metallic purples, reds, greens, and teals. The embellished and embroidered coats paired with luxurious velvets hinted at a Russian inspiration. To represent fire, Jean and Katrina stuck with requisite red and orange, but added touches of gold, navy, and yellow to infuse a modern, romantic feel.

"Tapestry" was nothing less of a reprisal of Silk Cocoon’s most valued skill – immaculate construction. Each piece that came out on stage was a firm vindication of a tailoring or draping "how to" – structurally sound but still gracefully sinuous, as silk should be. Katrina reveals, "It was while working on this show that my mom discovered how good of a draper she was."

It was also while working on this show that mother and daughter truly discovered the yin-and-yang balance that keeps their design team thriving. "We have different working styles and design sensibilities," Katrina elaborates. "My designs are more streamlined while my mom is more dramatic when it comes to designing. With this show, I sort of tapered her while she enhanced my ideas." She goes on to emphasize the role of Jean’s sister, Frances, on the team. "Frances was the pillar that kept us all standing. She took care of all the logistics prior to the show."

Silk Cocoon’s "Tapestry" may have been a one-night spectacle but its repercussions will go far beyond the 11 years that took leading up to this event. That single night was both completion and culmination, a fulfilment of dream and hope anew for a culturally-ingrained weaving industry, and an assurance that familial relations do go as far as dedication permits.
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