This Breast Cancer Awareness month, six fashion designers showcased their works at the ICanServe Foundation’s Fashion Can Serve fashion show last Oct. 8.
The couturiers—JC Buendia, Ito Curata, Cary Santiago, Vania Romoff, Mia Arcenas and Rosenthal Tee—used their Holiday 2017 collections to gain support for ICanServe Foundation and its advocacy of breast cancer awareness and early detection.
The theme for this last part of the Fashion Can Serve trilogy, at Raffles Makati, was “Why We fight. ”
“Last year’s show had the theme ‘We don’t walk alone,’ and the muses walked with a family member or friend who accompanied them on their journey battling the cancer,” ICanServe Foundation chair Libet Virata explained.
The muses included mothers and their young children, as well as grandmothers and grandchildren. There were also supporters who walked in honor of a family member or friend who passed away.
“Our theme emphasizes the reason persons diagnosed with breast cancer choose to fight: They do this for their spouses, children and grandchildren,” ICanServe Foundation president Tang Singson said.
Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala, ICanServe founder, said that there is life during and after cancer.
“The mere fact we have breast cancer survivors walking the ramp is showcasing hope and life in motion,” she stressed.
Maureen Wroblewitz, the first Filipino to win “Asia’s Next Top Model” and the face of Fashion Can Serve 2017, walked also for her mother, who succumbed to breast cancer.
This year’s muses included the three Filipino Miss Universe: Gloria Diaz, Margie Moran-Floirendo and Pia Wurtzbach. Also on the runway were Solenn Heusaff, Jasmine Curtis-Smith, Derek Ramsay and Katarina Rodriguez, among others.
Cebuano designer Santiago said that his sister was a cancer survivor. “It gives me great joy lending my time and dresses to this worthy cause.”
In Tee’s case, it was her main assistant who survived breast cancer. “We found out she had breast cancer only late last year. It was already stage 3. Luckily, we were able to find her the help to do chemotherapy and have the breast removed, and now she is recuperating.”
Tee’s collection showcased her aesthetic that brims with “flirtatiousness and youthfulness” and fuses different cultures like Eastern Asian influences.
“I know of a few women who have been affected or have had loved ones affected by breast cancer,” Romoff said. “This is my way of helping support the fight against it.”
“I want to convey happiness in my collection because I’ve learned over the years of making clothes for breast cancer survivors that the secret to battling cancer involves inviting positive vibes and just being happy,” Buendia said. He used pink, cherry blossoms and peonies as design elements.
Santiago used muted, still and classic colors. He described it as “a celebration of a woman’s fluidity and femininity. ”
Romoff wanted her collection to convey a woman’s strength.
“I wish for my clothes to convey strength seen through a woman’s beautiful figure,” she said.
Strength was also the focus of Arcenas’ collection, especially since a lot of her mother’s friends and some people in her family are survivors.
“I hope the audience have an open mind and appreciate the works of all designers, since we all have distinct aesthetics,” Curata said.
“We at the ICanServe Foundation just want to tell people that there’s hope and there’s help. At the same time, the problem has gotten so big, we really need government help already,” Alikpala said, explaining why they also formed the Cancer Coalition of the Philippines that is trying to pass the National Integrated Cancer Control Act so that all cancer patients will have a chance in life.
Alikpala said that those who do not have cancer should not be intimidated by the topic. “It’s just that it’s another crisis that happens to another person.”
Nikoy de Guzman, vice president and head for collaboration of ICanServe Foundation and a breast cancer survivor who underwent double mastectomy, encouraged fellow survivors or those at risk to just always be positive.
“Unlike before, cancer is not a death sentence anymore, especially if detected early,” she said. “FashionCanServe has been very successful, especially now that we have our world-class muses. We’re just happy that many people supported it.”
Funds raised will continue to support ICanServe’s projects, especially the Ating Dibdibin program, which goes to the barangay level, to train barangay health workers to do the screening in their small communities.