WE’VE chalked up airline miles for the Great Singapore Sale, our neighboring city state’s annual shopping event that has become such an institution we’ve planned our holidays around it.
Hoping to replicate the Great Singapore Sale’s success in Cebu, the folks at Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) have come up with their own weekend sale called Cebu in the Bag: Island Madness Sale, which takes place in June every year, in line with Cebu Business Month (CBM).
And while we in Cebu can’t offer discounts on last season’s Prada or those now-iconic pieces when Saint Laurent Paris was still YSL, we can hold our own in the field of design—whether it’s fashion, accessories, furniture, or home décor. Which means Cebu is well worth a visit, too.
Camille Aldeguer, the event chairperson for the second year in a row, knew that few things would draw a crowd like a fashion show could; to launch Cebu in the Bag: Island Madness Sale Year 2, she enlisted Cebu’s top designers to each showcase a three-piece collection in the CBM colors of red, black and white.
There were the fashion enthusiasts and front-row regulars Amparito Lhuillier, Teresin Mendezona and Carmen Campbell, but also in attendance were CCCI members, including its first female president Tess Chan, and CBM 2014 chair Felix “Boy” Tiukinhoy Jr., who are more often seen in power lunches than at cocktail hour.
Despite the corporate nature of the fashion event, the collections were all about sensuality—perhaps because of the chosen color palette. Some designers were unapologetic, while others merely hinted at it.
Jun Escario skimmed and hugged the woman’s figure with his collection of long black-and-white dresses that are the perfect canvas to accessorize and make your own.
Oj Hofer showed his fluid take on men’s jackets and trousers and gave us two perfectly slinky evening dresses—one in vibrant red and the other in black lace.
Treading the line between hard and soft, and showcasing his mastery of both structure and draping, Cary Santiago showed three pieces in red, black, and white satin, completely ladylike in go-to 1950s silhouette, save for sheer lace panels that provided a hint of skin.
Marichu Tan-Geson, meanwhile, was all about sheerness, showing some skin with her waist-defining gowns in illusion tulle with acrylic stones and Swarovski crystals.
Giving sensuality a different face was Protacio, who said of his collection: “I wanted to bring out sensuality without showing too much skin, so I worked with mid-calf lengths and full sleeves. Except for one sheer number in tulle, the others were modestly covered. What made it sensual lies in the color—black.”
In the same vein was Philip Rodriguez’s collection, which served as the show finale and featured a metallic men’s tuxedo and two long-sleeve gowns with lace appliqués, both in flaming red and seemingly inspired by the designer’s continuing fascination with Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.
Edwin Ao’s collection was also a juxtaposition between what was covered up and what was revealed.
He said, “My collection was done mostly in acetate lining material and is based on the concept of protection, thus the hoods, windbreakers and jackets.”
While his men were covered up, his one female piece offered just the right amount of skin.
Some designers opted for the middle way, choosing neither to cover up nor reveal.
Yvonne Quisumbing said, “Gravity is the common factor of the black pieces in my collection. The emphasis is on the fall and flow of the fabrics. While they cling to the body, they’re still comfortably sexy.”
Save for one sheer top, Ren Manabat’s cocktail pieces, inspired by his fascination with bows, were quite modest in their silhouettes. The hint of sensuality came in a pencil skirt with an oversized floral detail that called to mind American artist Georgia O’Keefe, and red floral embellishments peeking out from under an oversized bow that lent his dress a peplum shape.
Albert Arriba also showed short cocktail pieces that were different degrees of sexy—from a red strapless number and a lingerie-inspired LBD to a pristine white shift.
Another take on sensuality was the juxtaposition of the masculine and the feminine.
A preview of androgynous dressing was seen in Arcy Gayatin’s collection, which opened with a pinstriped jumpsuit with a low, beaded neckline that you’d want to wear to your next cocktail party. She turned down the volume with a leather cocktail dress with tweed details that you can strut to work in, and then turned it up again with a red gown that was an ode to the scene-stealer that Vivian (Julia Roberts) wore to the opera in the movie “Pretty Woman.”
Continuing the narrative of sensual androgynous dressing was William Manahan, who presented an all-trousers collection. He said, “I kept it feminine by using crepe silk, American tulle and Mikado silk, and finished the look with minimal accessories like strands of pearls and brooches.”
For all the women-who-run-the-world types in the crowd that evening, that was probably the brand of sensuality that hit closest to home.