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17 student designers make their mark with their graduation creations



Sometimes, life holds amazing surprises. Becoming a teacher (all the more cofounding a school) is one of those for me. Going to work in a school and incessantly thinking about design education was nowhere near the horizon of my pool of aspirations.

Yet in October 2007, with nothing but my passion for design, I found myself seated behind a teacher’s desk with a whiteboard marker in hand sharing my creative process with 12 design students at the newly opened SoFA (School of Fashion and the Arts).

Talking to my students about fashion history, explaining various bag types and parts, and walking my students through creating their own collections—I knew I was hooked. I did not imagine how fulfilling it would be to witness and help nurture students’ ideas and skills.

Five years down the road, the SoFA Design Institute has graduated three batches of students from our long courses, and hundreds more from our workshops. Indeed, this is one curve ball that I fully embrace.

To the SoFA batch of 2012, congratulations! Embrace the blessings and surprises that life will throw your way as you embark on your design careers.

Dan Concepcion

Meet the SoFA Class of 2012, who were recently given the opportunity to showcase their collections through their first professional platform, a graduation show at the Rockwell Tent, copresented by BlackBerry and directed by the esteemed Jackie Aquino.

Florian Trinidad

Flor’s first collection, an ensemble of vibrant treatments on unexpected fabrics, took inspiration from urban streets, hip-hop and graffiti art. The unconventional combination of plastic and denim, masked in silhouettes strongly reminiscent of the ’90s, became the core of her presentation.

Dan Concepcion

After graduating Magna Cum Laude from the University of the Philippines, Dan pursued a two-year program at SoFA. “I wanted to tell a story without having to verbalize it,” he says. He used linen, wool and fleece to interpret the intimacy of the experience he calls “The Morning-after.” With his signature strength-over-structure aesthetic, Dan delivered a powerful presentation of sexy and comfortable pieces in red, salmon and gray.

Jireh de Jose


Jireh de Jose may not have been raised in the Philippines, but she definitely has the sensibilities of a true-blue Filipino. Her dresses were constructed in satin, chiffon and tulle and embellished with pseudo-crystal beads. She says the combination of subtle hues and eye-catching glass beads represent gentle strength, a characteristic of Filipino women.

Rakiel Tan

Inspired by viruses and its organic framework, Rakiel’s collection took off from the triangular shapes hatched by viruses when attaching themselves to their host. Custom-made, digitally printed textiles were interlaced with metallic-foiled fabric to create a visual representation of the viral activity. “I wanted to interpret one of the most organic process in life,” says Rakiel. Staying true to her signature look, the collection consisted of playful skirts and flattering silhouettes meant to glorify the female form.

Hannah de los Reyes

Scalloped lace and suede served as the staple textile of Hannah’s collection. However, it was the injection of leatherette that commanded attention. Juxtaposing soft and hard textures with the impeccable balance of lace and leather was the collection’s main achievement.

Roha Martinez

Majesty de Castro

“The biggest challenge is to trim down all your ideas to a single concept,” says Roha, whose final presentation showcased duchess satin. Roha hopes to work for a clothing company or apprentice for a seasoned designer.

Danika Navarro

Danika’s collection was raw, modern and intricate. Natural fabrics such as linen and wool were used to achieve the raw and organic touches, while metallic leather and organza provided the touches of modernity. Danika made notable use of her graphic design skills by employing a lasercut-like pattern on her fabrics. Today, Danika juggles roles as a designer, graphic artist and blogger. What could be the next step? “Definitely retail. I heard it’s exciting.”

Samantha Mendiola

Inspired by geometric lines and shapes, Samantha’s collection was a blend of neutral colors, sharp lines and subtle studs. “If Batman was a girl who loves listening to rock music, then this is what she would wear,” she says. What’s next for SoFA’s resident rocker? “Istituto Marangoni in London. I’ve studied the design side of fashion, it’s time I understand the retail end of it.”

Karen Castro

Karen Castro is a wife and a mother. After taking inspiration from the grace and elegance of the roaring ’20s, Karen created a collection that highlighted the svelte stance and gentle strength of women of that era. Mesh, lace and slinky knits became the go-to fabrics.

Arianne Tonda

HANNAH delos Reyes

Arianne Tonda is known for skin-baring creations that accentuate the female form. However, for her graduation collection, the designer took a surprising turn and created military-inspired pieces in fabrics such as taffeta, dull satin, tapestry, metallic foil chiffon and metallic linen. “I wanted to express three things: strength, vitality and optimism,” says Arianne.

Keena Tria

Keena’s dresses exuded glamour and sophistication—a mix of soft materials against gold, sequined fabric and rosettes. The young designer vows to “practice what I have learned and work right after graduation. Creating my own ready-to-wear line is also part of the plan.”

Pristine de Guzman

Pristine is as a highly conceptual individual who values perfecting the seamless translation of her design, from initial sketches to final execution. For her graduation collection, Pristine says, “Many of us think that volcanic eruptions signify death, forgetting that it played a major role in shaping the Earth as we know it today.” The texture of her garments depicted how magma flows, hardens and takes the shape of whatever is beneath it, creating rocks that hold ridges with unusual patterns—a showcase of her technical skills. After graduation, Pristine will fly to Jakarta to represent the Philippines in a technical skills competition for sewing and pattern-making.

Majesty de Castro


Taking inspiration from the Manila cityscape, Majesty created a collection that paid attention to structure more than any other design element, such as pantsuits with sharp architectural details.

Tabitha Mungai-Pladet

Keena Tria

Tabitha’s collection was dominated by feminine dresses with soft drapery in champagne-colored satin fabric. It utilized her knowledge of draping and construction, with intricate additions made to the garments without sacrificing clean lines and craftsmanship.


Irene Subang

Irene took direction from Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights” for her hedonism-themed collection. The end result was a playful banter of taffeta and satin, and a reminder that there is strength behind such delicate materials, heightened with deep hues and metallic chiffon.

Tippi Sy

Taking creative inspiration from her hip-hop origins, Tippi took streetwear and turned it into couture. She made use of denim, sportswear knits, plastic and spandex to represent everyday wear for women.

Ann Andres

Ann delivered a collection that she describes as “a fruitful mess”—a well-played mix of laser-cut leatherette, jersey, gazar and chiffon. This young designer seeks to broaden her design perspective by pursuing further studies in London.

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Tags: fashion , Lifestyle , School of Fashion and the Arts , sofa

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