designer spotlight  |fashion


One hundred designers interpret the terno, baro't saya, and barong Tagalog for Metrowear's fashionalistic night.
by Jae Pickrell / July 5, 2011

In celebration of the Philippines' 113th year of independence, Metrowear Filipiniana gathered 100 designers from the country's major design associations to present their individual interpretations of the terno, baro't saya, and barong Tagalog. The momentous event was a celebration of Filipino talent, art, and heritage that brought together the Philippine fashion design community to illustrate that Filipino dress is as timeless and traditional as it is current, stylish, and relevant.

Joining the 90+ apparel designers were accessory and shoe designers Amina Aranaz-Alunan, Rocio Olbes, Ana Rocha, Nicole Whisenhunt, Michelline Syjuco, Cesar Gaupo, and Mich Dulce, whose Filipiniana-themed pieces—jewelry, clutches, hats, and shoes—were on display that night. Patis Tesoro's Ninay dolls were also on exhibit.

Read on for a breakdown of the hundred-strong looks that were presented during Metrowear Filipiniana.


The show started with a ten-piece presentation from Dita Sandico Ong, who's best known for her pioneering work with handmade Filipino textiles. She showed her mastery of indigenous fabrics in her manipulation of the woven materials—pliant piña and jusi were rolled this way and that to give dimension to her streamlined and stately ensembles. Particularly riveting in its simplicity was a striped and leaf-print outfit with an extended top that reached past the head and swooped down gracefully on one side to frame the face.

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Following Dita were veteran designers who have mastered the art of Filipiniana dressing. Mike dela Rosa, Loreto, Patis Tesoro, Danilo Franco, Efren Ocampo, Gregg Centeno, Nolie Hans, and Steve de Leon showcased dramatic creations that varied from the elegantly simple to the glitzy and elaborate. Chic standouts include Gregg Centeno's noir traditional terno with golden accents on the bust, and Mike dela Rosa's understated black and white one-butterfly-sleeved terno, which a fearlessly stylish, modern-day Filipina might dare wear to a formal ceremony. The bare shoulder updates the dress and hints at a sexiness that does not disrespect the sanctity of the terno silhouette. In all, these masters showed that they've truly conquered the reverent design and execution of Filipiniana through the years.

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Kicking off the roster of design groups was the Young Designers' Guild (YDG). Ensembles ranging from the avant-garde to the ultra-wearable from Eric delos Santos, Ferdi Abuel, Regine Dulay, and Veejay Floresca  stood out for their experimental, out-of-the-box Filipiniana interpretations. Eric presented an asymmetrical fringe terno paired with leather pants, whose top we've no doubt excited the younger, movement-loving set of the audience. Ferdi used the same color, black, for his updated terno with slim quilting details and decollétage cutout. Regine, meanwhile, presented an ash-gray dress with grommets and fabric strip detailing. Full of texture and attitude, it is the one dress among the bunch that alludes to a spunky, streetwear verve—tattered-like and tough, and very current, very now. Lastly, Veejay presented a striking and sexy floor-skimmer of the same graphic inclinations he showed during Philippine Fashion Week that would no doubt be more modestly lined should mere mortals rock it off-runway.

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From Martin Bautista's butterfly-sleeved cover-up on muse Divine Lee,  Rosanna Ocampo's flirty cocktail terno on Amina Aranaz-Alunan, to Enrico Carado's battle-ready armor on a mulleted Sanya Smith, this segment had us spoilt for choices for terno garbing today for all sorts of events. Going to the beach? There's Martin's. Night out with girlfriends? There's Rosanna's. Going to war? There's Enrico's.

In all seriousness, this segment teemed with covetable and ultra-wearable adaptations that not only showcased each designer's skills and aesthetics, but also showed a fresher, less formal side of Filipiniana. Kate Torralba's beaded pink confection is a fun, frolic-ready rendition, while Louis Claparols's gray terno top demystifies and deconstructs the dress to make it more street-ready and wardrobe-friendly (a styling tip: rock the mix-and-match top with black cigarette pants for a semi-formal look, or leather leggings for a sexier take). James Reyes's maroon, bubble-hemmed terno is a wonderful little thing to put on for easy Filipiniana (we wonder what pattern he toyed with, this time?), while John Herrera's version is highly textured courtesy of his signature fabric cutouts. Like Louis's, the top is easy enough to match with closet staples, although we have no doubt it would be three times as lovely had it been cut as a floor-length gown instead. Take note, though, that his shoes were customized with the same fabric cutouts to match the top.

Upping the ante for formal dressing are Religioso, Sassa Jimenez, Chris Diaz, and Francis Libiran. A gray linen terno with bias paneling on the skirt and sheer bodice peek-a-boos leveled up Religioso's modern workaday aesthetic, while Sassa's tiered cream fantasy is fit for a princess, as are the designs of both Chris and Francis. Both chose dove gray for their creations—adorned with intricate, wispy cutting for Francis (he would've done well to keep the sleeves and neckline simpler or bare, however, to best highlight the cutwork on the bodice), and knobby, feathered texturizing for Chris, who always, always typifies modern romanticism.

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This coterie of designers churned out a selection of pink and purple cocktail ensembles that traversed the line between traditional Filipiniana silhouettes and contemporary evening dressing. While some ensembles don't clearly reference the customary styles of the terno and baro't saya, they do contain Filipino elements in their indigenous components, be it through the garment's principal fabric or ornate embellishment. Ronaldo Arnaldo, for one, used a fuschia piña-silk blend for his sculptural, high-collared dress, while Fanny Serrano also played with piña—this time, in a royal blue hue—for a voluminously draped one-shoulder confection.

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Protacio Empaces, Gerry Katigbak, Aries Lagat, Jerome Lorico, Anthony Nocom, Lito Perez, Barge Ramos, Jeffrey Rogador, Joey Samson, and Randy Ortiz represented for the male contingent, offering a number of alternatives to what could be an often tiresome attire of trousers and barong Tagalog. Protacio cut a coat from piña (who would've thought?!), while Jerome dressed up his nomadic model in his usual knitted proclivity. Both designers strayed from each other, color- and texture-wise, with Protacio letting the woven texture of piña speak for itself, while Jerome heaped volume onto his ensemble through a frayed and fringed scarf. Aries, meanwhile, saluted tradition with a collarless barong, while Joey fronted a plaid sweater with a piña body. Lastly, Diether Ocampo walked for Randy in a handsome, dark Prussian blue barong that would look dapper on any man, Diether-physique notwithstanding.

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The Fashion and Design Council of the Philippines (FDCP) was in charge of the red carpet gowns that night—and deliver, they did. Leading the pack was FDCP president JC Buendia, who presented a contemporized women's barong Tagalog that echoed those he has shown for Philippine Fashion Week Holiday 2011 and Fashion Watch 2011. Less transparent than the sheer shirt that graced the latter events, JC's women's barong for Metrowear is a welcome alternative for the terno for formal events. Paired with a slim-belted ball skirt (as how it was that night, à la Carolina Herrera), it's a chic choice for those seeking diversion from the usual red carpet gowns.

Rajo Laurel, meanwhile, brought all-out glam for his Filipiniana outing, showcasing a creamy terno with bronze, silver, and azure beadwork on the gown's paneled bodice and butterfly sleeves. The ethereal piece reminded us of one of the stunning showpieces from his Fashion Face-Off 2009 collection, where the exquisite beadwork peeked out from the diaphanous shoulder drape that fronted the dress.

Jojie Lloren's terno rendition is the embodiment of austere tailoring, bodice-wise, but the strip paneling of his sleeves in radiant jewel tones—deep amethyst, sapphire blue, and emerald green—conveyed his mastery of construction, especially as the strips flowed effortlessly from a stark geometric arrangement on the sleeves down to a languid stream on the garment's back.

Len Nepomuceno and Dong Omaga-Diaz both showed asymmetrical ternos in a pink palette, while Tippi Ocampo likewise played with asymmetry in her gray and copper beaded ensemble, which aptly represented her buoyant design sensibility. Hindy Weber-Tantoco also favored gray for her lace and chiffon number, which lacked all the stiffness that a terno is often encumbered by.

Lastly, Randy Ortiz and Frederick Peralta pulled out all the stops for their pieces, bringing out high drama with a baro-inspired blouson over an embroidered piña skirt with a floral tulle overlay, and a fully sequined cobweb tulle ballgown with a sheer piña shawl, respectively.

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Next, the Cebu designers flew in to showcase the best of Filipiniana bridal wear. Edwin Ao presented a sleek, modern terno harking to the '40s through its slim, peplumed skirt. The clean, beautifully structured ensemble cleansed the palate from the high drama that preceded the Cebu contingent, although it would've been all the fresher had the train been edited. Jun Escario, Philip Rodriguez, and Philipp Tampus took the opposite route, showing how old world romanticism is done, they being vanguards of Cebu glamour and all. Philip Tampus seems to have recycled a Philippine Fashion Week Holiday 2011 piece, but we'd rather say upcycled, really, as the butterfly sleeves did wonders to heighten the elegance factor of the decadently embellished gown.

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Finally, three big names capped off the Filipiniana extravaganza: Albert Andrada, Ezra, and Cary Santiago. Albert and Ezra flew all the way from Dubai to present their trademark ostentation at the show. Marina Benipayo walked for Albert in a theatrical Swarovski-studded silver showpiece complete with a plumed headpiece, while Ria Bolivar awed in Ezra's shadow-dark ensemble of a sculptural terno bodice, shirred leggings, and voluminous tulle train. Both seemed like opposing forces in tinsel and onyx, strong-shouldered Odette and Odile, if you will.

Cary closed the show with a quicksilver avian ensemble that gleamed in all its gilded finery. The dramatic embossed texture of the material he used had no need for laser-cutting or whatever other technique Cary has mastered through the years, other than adroit construction, of course. The bas relief filigree of the trouser and sculptural upper lent sinuous, molten texture to the decadent pièce de résistance, while its pleated, fan-style train heightened its glitz and éclat. Lastly, the avian sleeves alluded to a whole new level of flight and style might: Butterfly sleeves they weren't anymore—for that night, Cary gave wings to Filipiniana.

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Tags: Metrowear, Metrowear Filipiniana, Filipiniana
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