Mara San Pedro, a Filipina student at the University of the Arts London-London College of Fashion, used traditional Filipino fabrics and the influence of her native culture to create her own dress designs as she completed a course on fashion design technology.
San Pedro’s designs celebrated the craft of traditional Philippine hand weaving through the use of abaca and piña.
“While I am rooted and influenced by Philippine tradition, I tried designs that challenged boundaries,” San Pedro said, adding that her designs are a way of exploring “a new context for Philippine traditions and traditional dress through the eyes of a new generation growing up in today’s modern world.”
Take, for example, the design of the wrap top that she paired with an adjustable miniskirt. San Pedro made the wrap top from handwoven abaca cotton from Bicol and abaca silk from Aklan that she brought to London.
“I drew inspiration for the wrap top from the camisa with the signature butterfly sleeve, along with prominent wrapping and layering in a traditional Philippine dress,” she said. “For the adjustable miniskirt, I was inspired by the traditional saya or skirt that is tied and wrapped around the waist. While this design includes elements that are traditional, it exudes girlhood, femininity and youthfulness.”
San Pedro’s other designs included a wrapped or layered halter top that she paired with saya and tapis. She used another traditional Philippine fabric—piña shifu.
The design attempts to give the material, ordinarily associated with stiff and formal attires, an informal and carefree aura.
San Pedro is not new to the wearables business. While she was completing her BS Management degree from Ateneo de Manila University, she and three batchmates coowned Tejida, an entity that designed, produced and marketed espadrilles. But Tejida stopped operations after San Pedro decided to focus on her studies, while the other remaining coowners pursued other careers.San Pedro’s current thrust is to work and gain more experience in London’s fashion industry and help develop Philippine textiles and continue the traditions of hand-weaving communities.