Great if you’re an apparel designer, but just as lucky if you design accessories and win in this year’s Look of Style Awards: The 2013 tilt will pick one winner in each category to study in England next year.
On the fourth year of the competition held by the British Council, Look Magazine, and Inquirer Lifestyle, a new segment is being introduced—accessories design—to make way for young Filipino talents in this design category to win an all-expense-paid trip to the United Kingdom and enroll in a short course of their choice at Central Saint Martins (CSM) in London (for apparel) and Sheffield Hallam University in South Yorkshire (for accessories).
Look of Style Awards 2013 is co-presented with Star World.
Apparel and accessories
“We want to be inclusive because fashion isn’t just about apparel, and we feel that adding this new category will set Look of Style Awards from other local design competitions,” said Carmencita Sioson, editor in chief of Look Magazine.
As in previous years, contestants only need to have at least two years of work experience in fashion to qualify. There is no age limit, and even previous winners (or losers) from similar contests and Look of Style Awards may compete.
“The contest is not just a place to showcase their works; we really want to help them grow their business. That is why they will benefit from the mentoring of the judges from the industry,” Sioson added.
‘Pinoy Goes Global’
This year’s theme is “Pinoy Goes Global,” to challenge the new generation of designers “to show Filipiniana clothing’s potential for mainstream fashion.”
“It has been done before, but what we really want is for the designers to think out of the box,” Sioson said. “They don’t have to make a terno; it doesn’t have to look traditional. We want them to show that local fabrics and sewing techniques can be appropriate for mainstream fashion. What else can you do with our resources?”
Interested applicants must bring their resumé, portfolio and three work samples to the screenings: July 22-24 in Davao; July 29-31 in Cebu; and Aug. 8-9 in Manila. (Complete details can be found in Look Magazine’s Facebook page.) Ten finalists will be chosen in the apparel category, and 12 for the accessories segment. The collections will be presented in a fashion show on Nov. 14.
“The people in the UK really need to be facilitated in getting a more diverse perspective of the Philippines,” said Amanda Burrell, who has been at the helm of the British Council since the contest’s inception in 2010. “I think there’s a growing interest in the creative industry side of the Philippines, and we decided to engage in that creativity in different ways.”
Another unique component of the contest is that a young UK designer is chosen to present his/her own collection in the Philippines on Look of Style’s finals night. This year, two British designers, for both apparel and accessories categories, will be showing here in November.
“It’s getting to inspire people to engage more and develop their networks,” said Burrell of the young British talents. “There’s more opportunity for dynamic relationships between the Philippines and the UK.”
In the last three years, CSM—the alma mater of fashion heavyweights like John Galliano, Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo, Sarah Burton, Riccardo Tisci and the late Alexander McQueen—played host to Look of Style Awards winners Pablo Cabahug, Geof Gonzales and, just recently, Roland Alzate.
Burrell said CSM was tapped for the partnership owing to its repute and “success stories,” to make the “interface between the UK and a new country—in this case, the Philippines four years ago—more effective and able to develop real cultural relations, which is about developing friendships between peoples that inspire others over a period of time.”
In underscoring its promotion of the UK as a top locale for quality education in areas of fashion and the arts, the British Council is partnering for the first time with the arts institute of Sheffield Hallam University outside London. The winner for the accessories category will be enrolled in a five-day accessory design program at Sheffield in February 2014. The apparel category winner will enroll in CSM.
As in previous years, winners can enroll in other programs after their course is completed, at their own expense.
On queries that she’s soon leaving her post, Burrell responded with a cryptic smile. “It might happen,” she said. But she assured the Council’s commitment to the Awards, even if, indeed, the council management changes.
“We have a corporate plan, which is very clear, until 2015,” she said. “There may be changes in people, which happens all the time everywhere, but the changes in people may lead to improvements in projects, or may lead to new projects being identified, or old projects supported and developed in challenging new ways. So the future is full of possibilities.”
Burrell’s statement is echoed by Ana Tan, the British Council’s program and public relations manager, who co-developed the Awards with Melanie Cuevas, then editor of Look, in 2010.
Tan has seen how the contest has evolved in the last four years. “The quality of designers [applying] has improved immensely,” Tan said. “And you see designers in different phases of their careers. It’s good to see that they see the value of education. They see the value of having a global network, acquiring an international education, and, beyond that, bringing it back to the Philippines where they can make an impact in the industry. That’s ultimately our goal. It’s our way of helping the industry to develop.”
Tan says the Look of Style Awards is a unique program in countries where the British Council has a presence. “We collaborate with the creative industries. Design is a good focus of the Philippines, other than the performing arts. You see a lot of Filipinos going abroad and being successful there. It would be nice if we could appreciate our designers here first, not only after they’ve been appreciated abroad,” she said.
Look of Style Awards winners have gone on to have burgeoning careers in the industry. While Gonzales, the 2011 winner, has chosen a career in fashion styling, Cabahug, who won in 2010, has established his own flourishing made-to-order business with a following among the young fashion set.
Alzate, last year’s winner, has just completed his courses in CSM, and recently signed on to design HerBench, to give new direction to the women’s line of fashion giant Bench. After London, Alzate recently joined several Filipino designers to present at the Canada Philippine Fashion Week in Toronto. The young designer has his own thriving made-to-order business.
But it’s not just winners that have found luck after the Awards. Vania Romoff, a finalist last year, is designing a line for the Ensembles brand. Sioson said another finalist from last year is being courted by Adora to design an in-house label.
“And since Look is with the Inquirer, the designers get much greater exposure,” Sioson said. “It opens doors not just for the winners.”