By JOHN LEGASPI
Images by PAUL CHIONGSON of WE ARE XANE
The hablon, taken from the Hiligaynon word habol, which means “to weave,” is an indigenous textile found in Iloilo. Traditionally made from locally sourced materials such as piña, abaca, and cotton, the woven fabric is seeing new light in the hands of modern fashion visionaries who merge tradition with innovation. Last month, Iloilo City put the spotlight on its local treasures with its week-long celebration of fashion, heritage, and culture.
Iloilo Designers Week (IDW), an event in partnership with the Designers Guild of Iloilo (DGI) and Iloilo City Tourism and Development Office, brought the best of the city’s designers to fashion festivities presenting modern iterations of the hablon and the traditional traje de mestiza.
On its gala night, IDW brought seasoned designer Barge Ramos and the go-to designer of Miss Universe Catriona Gray, Mak Tumang, to showcase their works and share their stories with local designers.
Together with Barge and Mak, 19 designers from IDW also presented their collections at Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo. The hotel staff created a sparkling space using golden lights and gilded fixtures to match the designers’ works of art.
The Ilonggo designers were dauntless in using colors. The event showcased a modern revision of the classics, including romantic silhouettes, vibrant ternos, and barongs made with indigenous textiles.
Bringing new life to the traditional barong Tagalog was Barge with his collection entitled “Perfume and Incense,” which was inspired by a prayer of St. Teresa of Avila. The collection featured the embroideries of Lumban, Laguna, piña jusi made in Aklan, and accessories such as scapulars and rosaries made by prison inmates. On the other hand, Mak brought in his best pageant gowns in jewel tones for the show. His iconic design, the Lava gown, was set on a pedestal, lit up like a blazing fire at the center of Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo.
“One of the goals of Iloilo Designers’ Week is to help promote the art of local designers,” said Jaki Peñalosa, president of DGI. “It gives them a space to show their talents, and to show that there are good designers here in Iloilo. That’s why it’s called designers’ week, not just fashion week.”
“This is the second time that Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo has partnered with the DGI for the Iloilo Designers Week Gala Night,” said Nico Velasquez, communications manager of Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo. “It’s really important to us that our local designers know and feel that we support them in elevating their craft by giving them the best venue in the city with service that’s truly world class! Our partnership is a perfect tandem: We showcase to the entire nation and the world that Iloilo is home to visionary talents in the fashion industry backed up by an established brand appreciated internationally.”
Check out all the collections from DGI: