Twenty-nine fashion designers joined the country’s biggest fashion show on social media platforms staged during the pandemic.
They came together on the digital platform last weekend to show the fashion design industry and the country that: first, they’re still around even if the pandemic has crippled their craft and business, like it did everything else; second, that together, they can rise and survive this crisis.
The show was aptly called “New Normal: Fashion for Healing.”
Fashion/events director Jackie Aquino, who himself felt the blow of the pandemic, with his team, mounted the show which he uploaded on his Facebook, Instagram and YouTube last Saturday night. It has been gaining views and shares since then.
What was touching about this project, which was set up in less than two weeks, was how the designers, from Makati and Manila, all the way to Cebu (for Philip Rodriguez, Oj Hofer, Jun Escario, among others), Iloilo, Aklan (for Lesley Mobo) and Davao, responded quickly. Aquino invited as many designers as he could; it was democratic.
They whipped up designs or repurposed existing clothes, put them on mannequins or sent them for their models to wear, did videos of these (following Aquino’s instructions) and sent them to Aquino and his team at JCA Productions, who did the patient coordination via video meets and such—a routine so alien to us until this pandemic.
Aquino then tapped our former TobeYou contributors EJ Bonagua and Jj San Juan to edit the videos.
Leading composer Louie Ocampo gave Aquino special permission to use “Dalagang Pilipina” as soundtrack. Ocampo performed and arranged it.
With little logistics and time, this “fashion show” was mounted on the digital platform—a compilation of clips from designers—uploaded evening of May 30.
The idea was born at the start of the pandemic when Aquino and his friends Randy Ortiz, Marco Protacio (head of Protacio Hospital and aesthetic center You+), PR and marketing practitioners Pen Roque and Annie Ringor, and this writer would video-con at night to chat and laugh away our COVID (new coronavirus disease) angst. Ortiz and Aquino would talk about how designers were closing shop.
Back on its feet
We’d watch the CR Runway Show, which we found still too polished and glossy. We can’t do that, we’d say. Should it be a fundraiser, we asked. No, we don’t have the facilities for that, we said. Then Ortiz reminded us how designers just wanted to resume their craft and earn from it. But again, we don’t have the facilities for it.
However, Aquino reminded us of their Facebook page Buy Filipino.
In all these chats, Aquino kept harping that Philippine fashion must get back on its feet, and how the industry could do it together. Fashion for healing in the “new normal” was a title created by the times; it came easily. And so did the call to buy Filipino. Thus the hashtags #newnormal #fashionforhealing #savebuyFilipino were born.
We suggested that Ringor’s daughter, the artist Natasha, illustrate the title we would post to announce the show. What concept? Just draw herself, as she would look in the new normal.
And that became the gist of the digital fashion show—back to simplest, most functional mode. Just how we are in the new normal, in a world that has been turned upside down by the fear of contagion.
Looking back, Aquino now says: “I didn’t think my voice would be heard. But there’s strength in numbers and I pray it becomes a movement for the better.”
“New Normal: Fashion for Healing” is raw—unembellished, non-glossy clips from designers in quarantine, at a time that pulled us back to what’s really important in life. It’s not primarily aesthetic, but a reflection of our mood, here and now—which is how to get by, using our skills and craft (thus you still see superb embroidery and silhouette), and our values set (what is really our priority in life).
We wanted the show to be candid, spontaneous, mood-transparent and relevant (face mask is no longer an accessory, it is part of basic garb).
Most of all, we wanted the show to be a forum where designers get together in these days of isolation—the use of technology to bind and connect what the virus has disconnected. (See related story on this page for list of designers and their clothes.)
To view it, just type on YouTube, New Normal: Fashion for Healing; or go to Facebook: jackieaquino, jcaproductionsph; Instagram: @jcaquino, @thelmasiosonsanjuan