US ambassador supports Filipino eco-fashion | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

MITHI Aquino and US Ambassador Harry Thomas
MORI wrap curls up like a flower.

I’m a fan of ‘My Husband’s Lover!’” shrieked a lady guest. She immediately took a snapshot of the star of the gay-themed TV show, Dennis Trillo, who was in a long-sleeved shirt and brown and white cargoes by Paul Cabral.


Then actress Anne Curtis turned up in a red tube top paired with Ditta Sandico’s yellow banaca skirt and red bows, plus a wrist band.


Cabral and Sandico presented their creations at the US ambassador’s residence on the invitation of outgoing US ambassador Harry Thomas.


Thomas has been so impressed with Filipino creativity that he wanted to highlight these designers in a fashion show in the embassy residence.


New spin


Thomas said it was Cabral who made his first barong and first pair of jeans; the two have since become friends.


Likewise, Thomas was amazed at the sculptural possibilities of Sandico’s wraps made of  natural fiber.


Cabral gave a new spin to the  national costume, the piña barong, by working with weavers from Aklan and colorists from Laguna to create clothes in powdery and cosmetic tones. He

MITHI Aquino and US Ambassador Harry Thomas

veered away from the usual ecru and beige of the barong and its boxy silhouettes.


While the traditional piña barong is for formal occasions, Cabral’s updated version was designed for the resort and for just about any occasion.


The styles were simpler and closer to the body in silhouette. Still, the fabrics—piña linen, piña silk and piña cotton—were sheer and light. They were layered, tucked in, buttoned up or unbuttoned.


“The ambassador wanted something modern, not conventional,” said Cabral. “I used earth tones, bright colors, shades of pink and taupe. The look is unstructured and there are no embellishments.”

The objective was simplicity, but using luxurious natural fabric.


The New York Times has said that piña fiber derived from pineapple “can be as chic as anything that the world’s top designers might normally create.”


Label relaunch


DITTA Sandico’s new take on the barong with laser-cut embellishment

For designer Fernandina Sandico, the event was a relaunch of her label. Newly single, she has dropped her married name Ong and added a “t” to her nickname “Ditta,” upon the advice of a numerologist.


The label “Ditta” celebrates the possibilities of her fabric, banaca, a hemp whose stalks resemble that of a banana.


Sandico’s fashion trademark has been the use of these structured wraps, which can add volume to or change the silhouette of an outfit. The larger wraps can be twisted into voluminous curls to add wow factor to any ensemble.


For the show in the US Embassy residence, she used a wider range of colors into her wraps, with emphasis on bold primaries. She updated the piña barong by rendering it as a mini tunic and embellishing it with bold callado designs.


Impeccable tailoring


Kris Aquino, who represented President Aquino in the event, commended Cabral for his impeccable tailoring. And when she saw a model all ruffled up in orange banaca wrap, she said she could picture herself wearing the outfit to an awards night or special event.


“What I liked was that we are experimenting with colors as far as indigenous weaves are concerned. That’s creativity,” said Aquino.


LAYERING with piña

Dina Bonnevie and husband Ilocos Sur Vice Gov. Deogracias Savillano both came in inabel Iloko suits with laser-cut patterns by Nono Palmos.


“I love the clothes. Ditta’s fabrics made of the banana plant is a plus,” said Bonnevie. “It’s been my advocacy to promote local materials because the Philippines is rich in fibers like banana, pineapple and hablon. Like Bollywood, we can create our own fashion and find a market out there.”


Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez also lauded the event. “Filipino creativity thrives in an atmosphere of encouragement,”  he said. “When we create new things together, we create a common culture and common future.”

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