Back to the ’90s

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NEW FACES behind the runway and more meditative fashions took control during the Panasonic Manila Fashion Fest’s ninth season. These are some of the designers who caught BusinessWorld’s eye as we sat front row during the fashion event.

Jaz Cerezo placed red piping on what appeared to be black men’s suiting on women which harkened back to the early days of Yves Saint-Laurent, when he released his Le Smoking. Catsuits echoing elements of masculine dressing, such as lapels, appeared on the runway. The collection mixes elements of power dressing, but then near the end of the show, the designer placed in a black, red, and purple spangled jumpsuit, reminiscent of the sleepwear trend from a few years back. This was accompanied by pieces like what appeared to be midnight blue shirtdresses, wraparounds, and kimonos, ending with a collection of gowns with orchids printed on them.

Rob Ortega’s collection felt like some of the newer creations of Calvin Klein, one of the kings of 1990s fashion. For this collection, we saw a resurrection of ’90s trends, as is the wont today. We saw dresses printed with snakeskin patterns, a lime green dress that was last seen on a dance floor in the ’90s, and a Juliet-sleeved lasercut dress that might have been worn by a teenage witch. Steph Tan showed off a feminine collection with marabou feathers, of all things, on an ice blue dress, accompanied by pieces such as blue lace dresses with an overlay in the shape of thick green vines. More feathers appeared in places like hemlines, such as in a pink and fuchsia dress, and the rest of the collection featured strong pinks accompanied with red outfits. A more memorable piece was a pink sequined dress with a red train with a flounce that appeared like rose petals. Finally, the collection had pieces that featured old Hollywood glamor, such as in a midnight blue dress speckled with pink.

Mark Tamayo’s collection was a respite from the glamorous lines that came before, opening with a rusty russet tartan jacket over a textured skirt. The prints used were reminiscent of the checks used up north (as in Ilocos and Baguio), and the effect was almost comforting. The palette was reminiscent of the earth and the harvest, in soft browns and earthy blues.

Dak Bonite’s collection was greeted with loud dance music and cheers, thanks to two hot pink outfits. One of them was a pantsuit that from a distance appeared like macrame, worn by a model holding hands with a girl in a dress of the same material. This designer uses a lot of brights, in orange, a red that looked like a popular lipstick, and went luxe in materials like satin. The final dress for this collection was a big metallic pink wedding dress that looked like Drew Barrymore’s first prom dress in Never Been Kissed.

Bessie Besana’s more ladylike designs followed Dak Bonite’s fun, bouncy show, featuring whites and pinks; sheer and lace on pleated outfits that would be perfect for meeting a prospective mother-in-law. Lucia Josephine’s collection, in the same palette, was spotted with details such as lasercut windows on hemlines and flounces. She told BusinessWorld that her collection was inspired by women who were not given as much credit: think Zelda Fitzgerald (F. Scott Fitzgerald’s equally talented and long-suffering wife), and Ada Lovelace (a mathematician and aristocrat who helped invent precursors to the computer). A memorable dress was a big pink creation with 500 inches of tulle, inspired by astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell (with a skirt shaped like, well, a bell, reminiscent of a creation by Balaneciaga back in the 1950s).

Chrisnick’s collection, meanwhile, was unapologetically glamorous, sporting velour and velvet in dresses that were sprinkled with crystal chains, reminiscent of runway fashions in the mid 1990s.

Miyama Uno, a brand from Japan, showed off printed chiffon scraps sewn together to create coats or skirts, resulting in a look that’s definitely avant-garde: it’s reminiscent of the Derelicte collection from Zoolander. That collection wanted to parody the excesses of the fashion world, but this seemed to actually work, looking beautiful instead of condescending.

John Magsaysay presented his brand called Magi, named after the wise men of old. He took wise to a new level with a line of male athletic and streetwear inspired by Pythagoras and the Greeks (through patterns that echo the Pythagorean theorem and constellations). The color palette, meanwhile, was dark and serious, the designer saying that it was inspired by colors used in heraldry.

Ministry of Silk, a brand from Laos, opened with an opera aria and showed off gowns cut in the silhouette of traditional costumes from Laos. As we can glean from the brand’s name, all of the outfits were in silk, and treated in such a way that championed traditional techniques, resulting in a texture and finish that is rough but refined. — Joseph L. Garcia