An honors graduate of industrial design and a technical theater grad bagged this year’s plum prizes for LOOK of Style Awards (Losa), the annual fashion-design tilt that gives away all-expense-paid study grants to prestigious fashion schools in the United Kingdom.
Jeweler Micki Olaguer and apparel designer Eugene Michael Tidalgo impressed the panel of judges composed of Philippine fashion stalwarts, with their respective capsule collections that embodied the year’s theme, “I Am a Filipino Designer”—she with her graphic jewelry using mother-of-pearl, and the latter with his classic trench coat collection using Igorot fabrics.
Losa, which debuted in 2010, is a contest for up-and-coming fashion designers, organized by Inquirer Lifestyle, LOOK Magazine and the British Council. Previous winners have been awarded short-course scholarships to famous UK design schools like Central Saint Martins, London College of Contemporary Arts and Sheffield Hallam University.
This year’s partner school is Istituto Marangoni, the Milan-founded institution, which has a campus in London. The winners will take a three-week fashion course of their choice.
This year’s major sponsors were Bench, SM Accessories and SM Aura.
Tidalgo, 28, had the highest score in the apparel category, with a good six points more than his closest competitor, besting nine other finalists. His witty take on the trench coat, a British classic, mixed with the colorful weaves of the indigenous people of the Cordilleras, won over the panel of judges composed of Ben Chan, Inno Sotto, Randy Ortiz, Michael Salientes, Apples Aberin, Jackie Aquino and Istituto Marangoni’s Emanuele Colombo.
He said his use of Igorot weave in contemporary design elevated the fabric in the same way as the Scottish tartan.
The judges were also impressed with how the technical theater major styled his capsule collection, with colorful beanies and booties with pompoms.
Tidalgo, a College of Saint Benilde alum who has had short stints with homegrown fashion brands like Harlan + Holden and Viktor Jeans, was a Losa finalist in 2014, but lost to that year’s winner, Viña Romero.
A Fine Arts cum laude graduate of the University of the Philippines, Olaguer, 24, won the accessories category with her mini collection of artisanal jewelry that also underscored ethically sourced and sustainable materials. The judges said her collection had the sophistication and polish of a professional line of jewelry.
Like Tidalgo, Olaguer has received other design awards, including the Red Box prize given design upstarts by the Department of Trade and Industry’s Center for Trade, Expositions and Missions (Citem), and will present her wares for the first time at Manila FAME this month.
The fashion show and award ceremonies last week were held at Samsung Hall at SM Aura Premier. It was directed by SM creative consultant Anthony Nocom.
“I really hope they take up a creative course, not something related to business,” said Colombo of the winners, recalling the judges’ interviews with the finalists. More than a few said they planned to enroll in the three-week fashion business course if they won.
Colombo, who’s the education director of Istituto Marangoni’s Shanghai campus, added: “You’re a young creative. You pick a design course, or even fashion styling. That’s what you do in the birthplace of punk. You go there to get inspired.”
Salientes, a fashion stylist and one-time fashion editor of Details Magazine in New York, concurred. “You don’t go to London to study business [if you’re a fashion designer],” he said. “I mean, it’s London! Just looking at the store windows will blow your mind.”
Retail visionary and Bench founder Ben Chan picked apparel finalist Andrea Lopa, 24, as winner of the Bench Love Local Award, for a reworked button-down top and skirt. The 10 apparel finalists were asked to pick two garment pieces from major sponsor Bench and recreate a look.
SM Accessories, also a major sponsor, gave a special award to Cebu bag designer Meme Dakay, for her clutch purse collection using marble-dyed polyhemp. She was also a Losa finalist in 2014.
The other finalists for apparel were Joseph Bagasao, AJ Bernabe, Daryl Maat, Wilbur Lang, Tipay Caintic, Princess Tan, Gabbie Sarenas and KC Niña Pusing.
For the accessories category, Ma. Rosa Fe “Rups Kiddo” Cruz and Bagasao were also finalists.
Istituto Marangoni was founded in Milan in 1935, and now has campuses in London, Paris, Shanghai, and soon in Florence. Among its famous alumni are Domenico Dolce of Dolce & Gabbana and Franco Moschino of Moschino.
Previous Losa winners are Pablo Cabahug (2010), Geof Gonzales (2011), Roland Alzate (2012), Rei Escario and Neil Felipp (2013), and Viña Romero and Nere Ku (2014).
Losa 2016 had the support of MAC Cosmetics, Jing Monis Salon, and Cravings.