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Aseron’s puzzle

Memories of the past and family inspired the designer’s Red Charity Gala show

Trips past and future; and through time and space bind the elements of the first Red Charity Gala since the pandemic.

THE LOBBY of the Peninsula Manila became the stage for the gala held on Oct. 8, for the benefit of the Philippine Red Cross, the Assumption High School Batch 1981 Foundation, and the Hope for Lupus Foundation. After an auction, the grand party was closed by a fashion show by designer Ivarluski Aseron.

Among the items up for auction were a Patrick Coard Half Tower (which sold for P650,000), a necklace from Diagold with beauty treatments thrown in (with a top bid of P450,000), a stay at the Peninsula Istanbul (P550,000), an artwork by Jigger Cruz (P1.6 million), a strand of pearls from Jewelmer and a stay at the Peninsula Manila (P1.1 million), and a stay at the Peninsula London and round trip business class tickets from Emirates to any European country (P1.4 million).

As for the fashion show, Mr. Aseron opened the show with the sound of bells. A model descended The Pen’s marble staircase wearing a knife-pleated dress, her hair shaped like a crescent. After that introduction, layers and layers of fabric were used to form a page-leaf effect, forming dresses, skirts, and bodices, in orange, black, white, and gray, giving the clothes opulence, movement, and life.

Then came gray suits, vests, and jackets, with gold zipper pulls serving as embellishments. There was a black bodice with three-quarter sleeves scattered with strips of silver, while the same silver strips trimmed a skirt’s hem. A black suit draped with organza had golden razorblades as an ornament, and one could see exaggerated padding in the suits, playing with dimensions and proportions.

The final dress was a silver and black gown made just of shimmering thread and beads, worn by model Jo Ann Bitagcol. The overall effect was like a Balenciaga show in the 1950s, with matching hats and hauteur.

Throughout the show, one would notice the use of jigsaw puzzle pieces in gold or silver: there was a jumpsuit shaped like one, a dress covered with it, or a piece made with cutouts shaped like the puzzle piece. In an interview with BusinessWorld, the designer said, “It’s actually a childhood pastime of mine,” he said. The collection, numbering about 50 pieces, was called “A Memoir in Motion.” “I discovered that it (a puzzle piece) symbolizes autism. I have a nephew who has autism. It’s nice to go back to my childhood and relate that to my family,” he said about the significance of the jigsaw puzzle pieces scattered on this collection.

While the show was a review of his own 23 years in fashion, for him, there’s always room to learn more. For example, while he said the page-leaf effect achieved with the layers of fabrics was a signature, the gown made just of thread and beads was a (successful) experiment. “It’s not pretty obvious, but I didn’t use fabric there,” he said.

The whole collection took eight months to complete, beginning in February. The result was an absolute masterpiece, and a fitting greeting to the return of the Red Charity Gala. “I can rest,” he joked during the interview.

Because the collection absorbs lessons from his past, both professional and personal, Mr. Aseron said: “I think the past is important. My collections are revisiting my past works and linking it to the present; whatever I have explored, I have developed. I think it’s important to look in the past. The past is essential to the present and the future.” — Joseph L. Garcia