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Japanese designer Tomo Koizumi âruffles upâ the terno
The designer Tomo Koizumi created a special terno for Bench in his signature ruffled avant-garde opulent style.

Japanese designer Tomo Koizumi ‘ruffles up’ the terno

GLOSS THE RECORD - Marbbie Tagabucba (The Philippine Star) - December 4, 2020 - 12:00am

The first digital Bench Fashion Week highlights versatile and unisex fashion.

Ruffles are silly and frivolous. Ruffles are regal and elegant. It varies depending on whom you ask. Ruffles ripple through history as something symbolic and artistic, worn by the most powerful figures, whether real or folkloric. Always, ruffles are a display of exuberance.

Kashieca girl Bea Alonzo in a Kashieca cardigan with back ribbon tie and micropleated skirt

For the finale of the first digital Bench Fashion Week, a Philippine cultural icon is interpreted by Tomo Koizumi. The Japan-based fashion designer known as the king of ruffles created a terno.

“We always want to show you something fresh,” founder Ben Chan said as he opened the first digital Bench Fashion Week on Zoom, streaming simultaneously on Facebook Live.

Maine Mendoza in Bench matching denim jacket and jeans with a round-neck shirt

The holiday edition of the twice-a-year showcase went in the direction of major brands around the world, did away with the usual runway show livestream, and showcased short fashion films highlighting the latest from Bench, Kashieca and Human. Endorsers like Maine Mendoza were bathed in light as models and endorsers crossed each other’s socially distanced paths in a film that felt contemplative. On Facebook, the Bench short film already has almost two million views.

And for the finale, a special terno by Tomo.

Ruru Madrid in the Secret Fresh x Bench round-neck tee and chinos

“I think it’s a delicious-looking terno,” reacts Gino Gonzales, project director of Ternocon, a biannual Bench co-production revitalizing the Philippine national dress. “It’s fascinating how ‘outsiders’ who don’t have the ‘baggage’ interpret the dress with their unique aesthetics. Tomo distilled the terno down to its basic silhouette, focusing on enlarged sleeves and the mermaid line, then infused it with saccharine madness.”

Tomo is a fashion fairytale come true. He was worn by Lady Gaga in 2016, but it was really fairy godmother Love magazine editor Katie Grand who championed him two years later and brought him to debut at New York Fashion Week in a Madison Avenue venue provided by Marc Jacobs. Bella Hadid walked his show with hair by Guido Palau and makeup by Pat Macgrath. It’s legends recognizing legends. Tomo went on to become the LVMH Prize 2020 joint winner and part of the acclaimed BoF 500 in 2019. This newcomer already has two of his creations exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. For S/S21, he collaborated with the color-loving Italian heritage brand Pucci. Coming up in February 2021 is his collaboration with Japanese cult fashion label Sacai.

Printed polos and high sole boots are unisex at Human.

For BFW, Tomo’s terno is a jolt of fun and opulence to pandemic-induced austerity. In the fashion film, the camera races through yards of Japanese organza, Tomo’s go-to material, gathered into layers upon layers of delightful pink flounce. It is girlish yet punk all at once. Lights play around the terno scored by a techno beat. It feels futuristic — or is it? With projections of television static, it is also us, in the present, peering into a screen — for a connection to the world outside, a distraction from all the chaos. We want to be inspired, uplifted.

“For me, fashion has always been essential,” Noel Manapat, the brand’s stylist, tells The STAR. “But now more than ever, it has become more sensitive to our needs for protection and for sustainability.”

In a conscious move to reduce plastic waste, Bench now carries polo shirts made from recycled plastic bottles in its Better Made line.

He continues, “Fashion also serves to elevate our everyday experience. With comfort, loungewear in softer fabrics comes to mind.”

We see this in Kashieca’s new season of easy-chic separates in muted neutrals that can be dressed up for Zoom or dressed down for lounging in dreamy reverie, such as in one’s abundant garden, as Kashieca girl Bea Alonzo — the beautiful face of the brand for 13 years — displays in the holiday collection’s short film.

“With functionality, we have hoodies with pockets to carry our to-go essentials,” says Noel, which we see in Human’s androgynous, utilitarian silhouettes, executed in vibrant pastels and tropical prints.

“With beauty — colors that soothe the eyes and graphic messages that instill positivity — and with inspiration. A beautiful shirt will always lift the mood!” says Noel. We spot pop art Bench tees designed in collaboration with pop art gallery Secret Fresh, styled with chinos on Bench endorsers Ruru Madrid and Grae Fernandez, who topped it off with a jacket.

Talking about fashion now is sure to ruffle a few feathers, but unless you can go on with life naked, there’s no denying that fashion is a part of life and it’s changing and adapting with us. For Bench, Maine wears a shirt that says, “New and Improved Me!” Here’s wishing that’s all of us when this is all over.

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