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MANILA — The charming and elegant 19th century setting of Barbara’s Heritage Restaurant at the walled city of Intramuros recently became the venue for the gala fashion show appropriately titled, “Herencia.”

The Filipiniana-inspired presentation displayed the creations of four Filipino fashion designers – Philip D. Torres, Ole’ Morabe, Gerry Sunga and Rholand Roxas – who highlighted dressing mode as cultural heritage.

The show complemented the restaurant’s ambiance and décor, as well as the lavish Filipino-Spanish cuisine on the buffet table. 

(Drom left) Designers Philip D. Torres, Ole Morabe, Gerry Sunga and Rholand Roxas. Edwin del Campo

Restaurant owner Barbara Gordon de los Reyes personally welcomed the designers and extended her support to their Filipiniana creations.

De los Reyes was among the executive producers of the show together with Roni Merk and Edwina Mondoniedo. The beneficiary was First Love Rev Ministries, Inc., that helps underprivileged children, feeding education and spiritual learning. 

“Herencia,” a Spanish word that literally means heritage, was jointly thought of and easily agreed upon by Tony Cajucom and Mike Guison, the brains behind the staging of the fashion show.

Creative direction was by Cajucom, a former president of Fashion Designers Association of the Philippines (FDAP), while Guison was the production designer and creative stylist.

Guison worked as costume designer and production designer in a number of local films, including Lino Brocka’s “Gumapang Ka sa Lusak” (1990) and the more recent “Citizen Jake” (2018) megged by Mike de Leon, and was a Gawad Urian winner for Best Production Design for Chito Rono’s “Laro sa Baga” (2000).

The four designers with producers Roni Merk and Barbara Gordon de los Reyes, owner of Barbara’s Restaurant. Edwin del Campo

“Herencia” proudly highlighted the works of the four designers who came from different provinces, and brought with them their individual stamps on their respective advocacies.

The fashion show displayed a rich blend of artistry and practicality. It’s a celebration of the vibrant cultural heritage of Filipinos, where we come from and trace our roots. Even the music was traditional Filipino folk songs in different dialects.

All creations are a fitting tribute to both young and old Filipinos. All the clothes were practical, wearable and Filipino-made, down to crafts and accessories. 

PHILIP D. TORRES

Torres proudly displayed a unique touch of being Kapampangan to his couture creations, fabric and design. An innovator of genuine craftsmanship, he is not just content with creating clothes for his clients, but also has a deep sense of respect for his roots.

A model wears a creation of designer Philip D. Torres. Edwin del Campo

“Pidayit-dayit” is a Kapampangan word which means putting together clothing materials to form new one. The term describes a holistic approach to garment production, applying the finer points of old world’s home economics.

Today,“Pidayit” is a new concept that links colorful tradition with modern style, an intertwining of homespun ideas and high art.
All of a sudden, retazzo pieces become fabulous garments enriched with intricate details, all made by hand. 

Stitched, embroidered and crocheted, the transformed garments – dresses, pants, long skirts, vests, jackets and shawls – were further unified with accessories from beading and collages of patches, buttons and cut-out designs.

Designer Philip D. Torres. Edwin del Campo

In the last 30 years, Torres has proudly exhibited his creations to Kapampangan audiences in different fashion shows held in the province. 

OLE MORABE

Morabe, who is is known as a wedding gown designer, presented the evolution of Filipiniana fashion dating back from the 1900s to the present. His love for simple silhouettes was evident in his cleanly constructed collection.

A model wears a creation of designer Ole Morabe. Edwin del Campo

For “Herencia,” Morabe, a past president of the FDAP from 2000 to 2004, used organdy and voile materials and tweaked otherwise classical pieces by applying asymmetrical cuts and multi-layering.

He credits his grandmother who taught him the rudiments of fine craftsmanship. 

Ole Morabe with his model. Edwin del Campo

Morabe’s fascination for ‘60s fashion was also often evident in his clothes and he balanced his eye-catching tops with simple bottoms, using mohair as the only accent. 

GERRY SUNGA

Sunga is dubbed a jeweller’s jeweller. His creations always looked chic despite ever-changing fashion trends.

A model wears a jewelry creation of designer Gerry Sunga. Edwin del Campo

In “Herencia,” Sunga, who has created jewelry for the likes of Imee Marcos and Gretchen Barretto, presented his jewelry in all-black get-up of models, accentuated by huge or volumetric designs in gold, black, red and green colors.

Jewelry designer Gerry Sunga. Edwin del Campo

Sunga has also started a series of new exciting items, like ladies bags in limited edition frames, encrusted with semi precious stones and crystals, jewellery boxes and ornaments for brides.

RHOLAND ROXAS

Roxas is Quezon’s premier fashion designer, dressmaker, entrepreneur and founder of the Quezon Fashion Designer Association of the Philippines.

Ever since Roxas was a child, fashion design has always been his first love. He started his career at the age of 20 and built his first shop along Taft Avenue in Malate, Manila.

A model wears a creation of designer Rholand Roxas. Edwin del Campo

After 15 years in Manila, Roxas decided to return to his hometown, Lucena City, to continue his career and be with his family. He built his shop in Lucena, but still maintains his connections in Manila where he often goes to in order to meet the demands and needs of his clients. He’s also a member of the FDAP.

“I love everything about fashion design, from color to fabrication and texture to fit and function. It started as an interest and became a passion,” Roxas, now 65, said.

He believes what makes his fashion enterprise unique from other fashion houses around Lucena City is his “originality, quality service and pleasant accommodation.”

Designer Rholand Roxas with his model. Edwin del Campo

Roxas specializes on formal wear. He designs debutante gowns, evening gowns, prom dresses, wedding gowns, suits, tuxedos and the like. He also ventures into ready-to-wear (RTW) apparel every so often.

He has created styles and designs for such local celebrities as Vivian Velez, Nora Aunor, Vilma Santos, Roi Vinzon and Daniel Fernando, as well as wives of mayors and governors. 

Asked to describe his personal fashion style, Roxas offers a broader look into his work and design philosophy. He insists on always going for the romantic. He likes apparel with laces, ribbons, roses, organza and the like that would sum up a simple but elegant fashion style.

His tips for budding entrepreneurs who are itching to start their own fashion business? “Get a grip. Have the skills and the passion. Be creative. Take care of your finances. Work hard.”

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