It is no secret that I have a degree in Clothing Technology from the University of the Philippines and that I dabble in fashion illustration every now and then. Today’s blogpost is about the concept art that I did for a Maranao Princess Bride. This all started with a request to do a concept sketch for a Maranao Princess costume. Who was it for? Catriona Elisa Gray.
Through a friend of a friend and that is how it started. Catriona is a very close friend of another beauty queen, Valerie Weigmann, whom I also did a national costume concept art for. Back in 2014 I created a sketch of what turned out to become the national costume that Valerie would wear in the international stage.
Shortly after the Binibining Pilipinas deadline of applications, I received the request to do a sketch. I was given a Maranao Princess peg. Catriona got the inspiration from a visit to the National Museum where she saw woven textiles from Mindanao, notable of which was the inaul. The challenge was to create something that was modern, fashionable but at the same time respectful to the culture of the Maranao people. Everything was in a rush as I dashed to illustrate the concept with as much research as I could. I only had less than a week.
The singkil being the de facto Maranao Princess folkdance was the start off point. But I didn’t want another singkil costume. So instead of the apir, I took the jeweled umbrella instead as the initial focal point and worked around it. And that was what made the entire design pop. Later I was informed about the Kinakulangan (Maranao) dance. It originated from Marawi, Lanao del Sur, and is performed by the proud Maranao women holding ornamental umbrellas while marching the “Royal Walk” or kini-kini to show their high status.
With very little time, I filled in the outfit with whatever motifs were immediately available. I had to say that whoever will execute the design should take liberties on the outfit. The only thing that I wanted to remain intact was the umbrella with its sarimanok and the beaded tassels on the bodice.
I was glad to hear that Catriona chose Jearsond Dimavivas to execute the design. Jearsond is another designer whom I had several mutual friends: Angelique de Leon and RL Lacanienta are some of them. He was the one who made Angelique’s T’nalak national costume for Binibini and also did Elizabeth Clenci’s T’boli costume in Miss Grand International last year. Small world, right? Jearsond worked 24/7 on the costume and thankfully, being from Mindanao himself he understood the culture of the Maranao. He took the concept art and made it his own, adding elements that only someone who grew up in Mindanao would understand. The outcome was something that I couldn’t be any prouder. The costume was marvelous up-close and we were all in awe.
A collaboration of minds and a creative exercise on synergy… This is what made the costume a true standout.