‘IN spite of the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, people still embrace our craft. In other words, it’s business as usual,” said Aztec Barba, the supermodel-tall president of the Davao Fashion Design Council, which did a stellar showing at the recent Panasonic Manila Fashion Festival (PMFF) at Edsa Shangri-La.
Barba brandished a 10-piece collection inspired by postwar-glam silhouettes, the standouts being a wrap top paired with wide gray gazaar pants with a black accent stripe, and an opera coat paired with an inner long gown with the fabric manipulated by Mindanoan dyeing techniques. “It’s more about hues of gray, black, beige and brown. The mood of my collection is gloomy,” he said.
Emi Englis’s fashion-forward “The Circle Is Not Round” took inspiration from the shapes of henumbo, the ingenious bead crafting of the T’bolis in Lake Sebu using throwaway plastic pens. The process of melting and molding don’t only produce different shapes but also patterns and visual textures.
“It’s a modern minimalist take using dominant egg and ovoid shapes from a circle pattern. The fabrics are mostly neoprene and rubberized spandex acetate in cooler gray monotones. The only accessory is the sneakers, which give the looks a young vibe,” Englis said.
Benjie Panizales, in contrast, went riotous with his gloriously chaotic but streamlined and tailored collection. The opening look was an exaggerated flared pants beaded on the hem and a vest-looking cropped long-sleeved top, see-through sleeves with sporadic gecko appliques. The closing look was a classic long flowy black and white dress with a closed high-neck collar continuously stitched to the back resembling that of a capelet.
“My collection, ‘Reckless Vagabond,’ is inspired by the prominent gecko symbols of the Mandayas, evoking power and command. Much like the geckos, which are reckless and adventurous, my 10-piece collection reflects the same characteristics. The cutout play of various black and white geometric prints and Mindanaoan patterns is for me a brave and daring move in coming up with an ensemble that is contemporary but still with a Mindanaoan vibe to it,” he said.
Bea Abrigo, a fashion-design fresh graduate, presented a refreshing 10-piece resort collection she calls “Gypsy Hearts.” Inspired by the mat-weaving tradition of the Badjaos, it has a light and beach-y vibe, the pieces in flowy and soft silhouettes with loud prints.
“The prints that you see are a superimposed version of the original pattern of the Badjao mat. I digitally rendered the pattern and tweaked it to create my own version to avoid cultural appropriation. Since it’s resort wear, there’s a lot of sheer pieces and swimsuits and lounge wear. I also had a slight theme of ruffles going on to mimic the movement of water, which is the inspiration of the Badjaos for their mats,” Abrigo said.
“I decided to join the PMFF show because I want to show and promote the beautiful embroideries of the South,” Bamba Limon said. He opened with a red below-the-knee dress with fringes and embroidery paired with an embroidered jacket, and closed with a black midi dress with original beading embroidery from the Bagobo Tagawa ethnic group with canary yellow underskirt with strips. He also collaborated with Zara Juan for the mules and bags that enlivened his collection of denims, crepes and silks.
In “Rhythm,” Windel Mira referenced the geometric patterns of the tepo, or the mat-weaving tradition of the Badjaos. “I started with a lavender mesh maxi dress with a belt bag for a streetwear [vibe] and fringe oversized long sleeves over wraparound skirt for a sporty chic-look closing,” he shared.
Dodjie Batu devoted his suite to menswear, using neoprene, cotton linen, brocades and other mixed materials in shades of black, gray and white with bursts of blue with a mash of prints and patterns of the same shade. Plastic twined bags complemented the look.
“‘Chiaroscuro’ is a 10-piece collection inspired by the shades of light and dark, the shadows emanating from dusk. I opened the collection with a more casual feel: a printed cotton shirt with denim pants and bomber jacket accentuated by silver eyelets and a brocade combination. The last look was a combination of black and gray brocades for a three-piece suit, a reinvention of the long-tail tux. I used sneakers to downplay the look,” Batu said.
The Davao Fashion Design Council is a dynamic, unified unit that participates in shows here and abroad. Its pride, though, is the mounting of the annual Davao Fashion Weekend, which showcases its members’ creativity while encouraging emerging talents around Davao.
“I’m happy that we are able to show again in Metro Manila because we gain more mileage for our collections,” Batu said. “This is the main difference between the Panasonic Manila Fashion Festival and Davao Fashion Weekend: mileage.”