THE first big sign that local fashion is getting back on its feet is the staging of the “Panasonic Manila Fashion Festival [PMFF] Season 12: A Fashion Reboot.” With health protocols strictly in place, the runway shows will be streamed at www.mff-official.com from Okada Manila, the five-star hotel resort in the country, from May 31 to June 4, at 6 pm with re-runs at 8 pm.
“PMFF has always championed Filipino design, and every season we invite fashion innovators from other parts of the country. The first few seasons we had designers from Manila. Then we invited Cebu, then Davao [Davao Fashion Design Council]. This season, we invited Cagayan de Oro [Oro Fashion Designers Guild],” Jackie C. Aquino, the fashion director, says via e-mail. “Personally, I am so proud of what our designers brought to the table. I was blown away. Magaling talaga ang Pinoy.”
The dates and featured designers are: May 31—Avel Bacudio, Camlu x Creative Definitions, Dodjie Batu, Mark Yaranon, Melvin Lachica, Windel Mira; June 1—Ann Semblante, Bamba Limon, Dino Lloren, Edgar Buyan, Joshua Guibone, Ziggy Savella; June 2—PMFF x Stylem Collection: Collaboration collection of 23 PMFF Designer using Stylem Fabrics; June 3—Bessie Besana, Chris Diaz, Dexter Alazas, Emir Yamamoto, Marc Rancy, Renan Pacson; and June 4—Alodia Cecilia, Benjie Panizales, Gil Macaibay III, Mavy Ladlad and Steph Tan.
“I was really looking forward to meeting the designers from CDO but with the pandemic still a force to contend with, almost all designers from Davao and CDO opted to have their collections shipped to Manila and it was like opening a treasure chest as each garment was simply inspiring,” says Aquino.
In mounting the shows amid a pandemic, the main challenge is ensuring the safety of all participants with proper planning and by limiting the number of staff. “We followed strict safety protocols but the best part is that Okada Manila has already one in place that has proven to be effective, efficient, safe and actually a joy doing. The guidelines were sent to everyone coming to the [preshow editorial] shoots and the success of any event at this point will be how you can find the discipline to follow simple rules like social distancing, masking and shielding, washing of hands and requiring each person to have alcohol handy,” explains Aquino.
“What seems difficult becomes easy when you get to figure out the best formula to follow. After countless rounds of virtual meetings and electronic exchanges, the festival took shape. With the vision and leadership of Genshi Shigekawa of the Go Lifestyle Group and Alodia Cecilia of AC Design Yard, all these became a reality,” says Aquino.
“What made the experience a source of joy was getting to interact again and experience the fun that comes with doing an actual show. This time, though, there is no audience and everything that is tangible will have to be translated to the digital space,” adds Aquino. “What is key here is the support of both the private and public sectors, and they are really taking center stage in helping all industries craft their road map to recovery.”
Aquino isn’t exempted from experiencing
personal loss from this pandemic. “Coping is your best tool and with a positive frame of mind, we can all overcome and rebuild our lives. As a private citizen, I found that the best way to help is to simply help, be it in the form of either something physical or just support,” he shares.
From these dark times, a beacon of hope for the fashion industry was born: the Philippine Fashion Coalition, with Aquino as president, in the hope of being the umbrella organization that will represent Filipino fashion. “PFC has embarked on and continues to create programs for its members as we recover. Then PMFF Season 12 was a blessing as a step in the right direction. Now, my main focus is how to unite the design communities all over the country so we can really be a force down the road.”
How will live shows adapt during this pandemic? Or will Aquino and his team still press the pause button?
“For now more than ever, we move forward and navigate the real new normal with the demands of both the digital and the tangible, the virtual and the physical reality. How I wish the pause can play again. Fashion continues to evolve and with imagination and proper support, we can reboot and discover new ways in capturing the fashion spirit in the virtual world.
“But with all these comes the hope that taking baby steps will lead to the day when the energy of a live audience and a runway show is once again a part of the total experience of a runway event. My hope is that more designers and brands do come up with innovative and economical ways in mounting events that can reach a wider audience in the digital space. You will be surprised at how the bayanihan spirit is so alive, as everyone will do more than their share to ensure that our craft endures.”