How does one contemporize the maria clara to suit the pace and lifestyle of today’s women?
That is the challenge posed to the young designers joining the 2014 LOOK of Style Awards.
The annual awards was launched last Monday at Ayala Museum in Makati. Inquirer Lifestyle, LOOK Magazine and the British Council have, for the past five years, been holding the LOOK of Style Awards to choose a young fashion designer who will take courses in London.
Last year, an accessories category was included; the winner, Neil Felipp San Pedro, was sent to the UK’s Sheffield Hallam University for a short course.
Contestants are encouraged to use indigenous and sustainable materials.
“We’re not looking for a literal interpretation of the maria clara,” said Carmencita Sioson, former editor in chief of LOOK Magazine. “Instead, we want to challenge this year’s batch of apparel designers to give a contemporary twist to the Filipiniana attire. We want them to reinterpret and veer away from the traditional look of an ecru maria clara with a panuelo.”
This year’s top winner in the apparel division will get a week-long, all-expense-paid scholarship at the London College of Contemporary Arts in the UK.
“It’s not all about formal wear either,” Sioson said. “In fact, we’re encouraging contestants to produce wearable clothes, even separates.”
Just like last year, the contest will give a separate set of prizes for accessories designers. The British Council is finalizing arrangements with a UK school for the accessories winner.
“It will also be a one-week, all-expense-paid scholarship,” said Monique Regalado, British Council arts manager. “Apart from the scholarships, we’re also making arrangements for the top winner in each division to showcase their collections in London.”
The contest is national in scope.
Weeks before the launch, Sioson, Regalado and Stef Cabal, also a former editor in chief of LOOK Magazine, went to Davao and Cebu for a series of interviews and screenings of the designs of the contestants.
They did the same screening in Manila last week, with Metro Manila-based contestants.
Helping out in the screenings were designers Yvonne Quisumbing and Edwin Ao in Cebu, Edgar Buyan and Dodjie Batu in Davao, and Amina Aranaz-Alunan, JC Buendia and Lulu Tan-Gan in Manila.
From this batch of hopefuls, the screening committee will pick two finalists each in Davao and Cebu, and four finalists in Manila for the apparel division.
A separate batch of finalists will be chosen to compete in the accessories division.
Each finalist will present a capsule collection in a fashion show on Nov. 12 at Buddha-Bar Manila. Accessories designer Joyce Makitalo, Kai Lim and Kim Jones will join Alunan, Buendia and Tan-Gan as judges on finals night.
Past winners in the apparel division were Pablo Cabahug, Geoff Gonzales, Roland Alzate and Rei Escario, while Neil Felipp San Pedro won last year in the accessories division.
“It’s all about coming up with innovative ideas based on what existed before,” said Regalado. “At the same time, it’s also about producing modern, fresh and marketable takes of the maria clara.”