Thursday, February 4, 2010


Early in the morning, tensed and groggy from lack of sleep, I eagerly await the live telecast of the 2010 Grammy awards. Sipping my coffee and after my second cigarette, the voice over started and the stage was flashed on the screen. Hearing the familiar sound of a now gay culture icon, I stopped puffing my cigarette and fully focus on what I’m watching. Then a platinum blond Lady Gaga jumped from a platform wearing this high cut, exaggerated shoulder in aqua-turquoise ensemble only she could run away with. Superb performance I thought. I went on watching the awards show till I reached the part when Jennifer Hudson entered the stage wearing this black gown with sleeves oddly familiar. Tamer than Lady Gaga’s but still the exaggerated architectural sleeve gave me feelings of familiarity, like the ones you have when you have de ja vu’s. Then upon the end of the show I finally realized what it was. In one word: Tarik.

Having been in the fashion industry for quite some time now, I do have a little understanding on how my fashion designer- clients construct the butterfly sleeves. A certain amount of precisely executed pleats, should be strategically placed along the part where the shoulder and strap of the dress is to meet. And based on my observation from the fashions the artist I’ve mentioned, their sleeves are similarly constructed to have that full structural detail. I wondered if I was going to be proud since it’s another way of pointing out to the world “The Filipinos thought of that style a long time ago” or fashionably jaded since why didn’t a Filipino designer thought of that way ahead of their European counterparts?

The trend is really out there. I browsed through a lot of collections from international designers and they too emulate and constantly developing the trend. Who would have thought that the sleeve shape of the Filipiniana would have massive international and pop appeal. Then again, no Filipino is responsible maybe because we are more geared to adapt than to set trends. In a general view of what’s the state of Philippine Fashion, I do salute the people who try their best to push modern Filipiniana, like Gaupo, Tan Gan with her vast collection of Knit-indigenous blend collection, twisting the costume like into wearable outfits. Maybe that’s what we lack. Tan Gan bravely put herself forth to push for the look, but hey I must also stress that she’s been doing this for so long now, and almost alone with no younger generations to push forth what’s needed to make our brand Filipiniana, have that international buzz.

Though after analyzing such an inevitable topic, I do have this other thought in mind: What is Filipiniana in the first place? This thought led me to surmise again the article that my friend, famed shoe designer Brian Tenorio, wrote about what defines “Filipiniana.” In passing, Brian pointed out that “World-Filipiniana, on the other hand, is that area in space where products are Filipino either by origin, design, or execution with qualities that take on the global aesthetic.” Assuming that indeed a Filipino, maybe an assistant to the main designer somewhere in Paris or Milan, may have suggested the sleeve detail and eventually snowballed the detail in to international fame, should we as Filipinos then could claim the trend even though at the inside of that Swarovski encrusted number Lady Gaga wore states the name of a designer we could barely read fluently? Anyways, that is another blog. One thing’s for sure though, even though the starlets of Hollywood and the world of international pop music may be sporting the trend, way before the Jenifer Hudson open side version in black, or Rihanna’s suited puffy one… or even Gaga’s ga-ga versions… we have our own Lady ever loyal to the sleeves, way before it became an international “trend”… Lady Imelda. LOLs.