#FashionFridays: Philippine National Costume Wishlist

I am a fan of the Philippine terno but in all honesty, it has over-saturated the pageant scene in the last 10 years. I believe that  it has been over-done in pageants that it looses appeal at times.
For today’s post, I am listing down several costume options that I believe should be given a chance to be spotlighted and featured at a national pageant.

7. T’boli costume – after seeing the T’boli costume worn by Elizabeth Clenci at Miss Grand International, I thought that this needs to be revisited. Her costume featured the traditional T’nalak woven fabric of the T’bolis. I have to say that if this costume was used with the added brass belt with bells, this would easily get anyone noticed.

6. The Kappa Malong Malong costume – this Maranao dance is said to feature the many ways of how the malong is worn. Predominantly worn as a skirt, the malong can also be used as a scarf, a shawl or a headpiece.

5. The Yakan costume – there is something about the very colorful Yakan weaving that is very pleasant to the eye. But what makes it the more striking are white geometrical face-paint. The Yakan are said to be peace loving and family oriented community. It would be a great ode to these people to see their culture celebrated in a national stage.

4. The Sagayan War Dance costume – the sagayan war dance is both alluded to the Maguindanaoans and the Maranaos and is a dance of gallantry and nobility. Dancers wield a double edged kampilan sword, a klung shield with shell or brass noisemakers, and a heavily adorned helmet.

3. Carnival Queen in a Traje de Mestiza – an authentic traje de mestiza is featured in the costumes worn by Dina Bonnevie in the film Tatarin. It features the bell sleeved camisa with a stiffened panuelo matched with the narrower saya with a sweeping train (saya de cola) and a flimsy embroidered tapis. Of course the carnival queen wouldn’t be complete without her requisite festival crown.

2. The El Cani costume – one of the most Hispanic-Filipino of our folk dances is the El Cani. The costume reflects our links to Spain. The El Cani costume looks very 1800’s European but with the long barong tagalog underneath. Add a salakot and it will definitely be more Filipino.

1. The Banga costumebanga which literally means pot is a dance that required balance and poise. Traditionally, 7-8 clay pots are placed on the heads of the dancers to showcase strength and stamina as women of the Cordilleras would use them to fetch water from the rivers. The most notable banga costume in pageants was the Banga costume of Aileen Damiles in MU 1996.
While I encourage designers to mine these costumes for pageants, I hope that they will be respectful of the traditions and customs of these dances/ costumes. There is a thin line when it comes to creating costumes for impact versus creating costumes to look commercial. Cultural appropriation and disrespect should not be practiced when creating these costumes for beauty pageants.


Rachel Peters’ Sarimanok Costume

There have been some debate over the Sarimanok national costume of Miss Universe Philippines Rachel Peters: people are on the fence on it.

The Sarimanok costume (which at first I erroneously posted as an Ibong Adarna inspired costume) was made by designer Val Taguba. Some criticism on the costume stemmed from the lack of coherence of the skirt with the rest of the ensemble. While others say that it looked like something was missing, that the costume lacked research hence it looked like some details was not there. On my part I though that despite the critics blasting the costume, Rachel carried it well. Yes, I agree that there could have been more feathers on the skirt part to really set off the entire costume. Yet I find that it did the job it set out to do: shock & awe.
Rachel’s killer bod was in full display in the costume specially with her mile-long legs in full display with Jojo Bragais’ gladiator heels. I loved the feather treatment on the tanga though I would have liked that it extended to the skirt to tie it much better. Another thing I would have loved that the headdress had a stabilizing strap on Rachel’s head so that she wouldn’t have to keep on balancing it up with her hand.

Overall the costume was ok, and it was different. Anything new and different must be viewed with an open perspective. It might not have been at first glance very striking but it allowed the focus to shift on the wearer rather than on the costume. I was looking for something new and different and it delivered.

The Shock Factor of Miss Universe National Costumes

The Miss Universe national costumes that have won the best costume award has been those that delivered drama and shock value in equal measure. Just look at the 20kg Borobudur temple inspired costume that won in 2014, the Tuk Tuk costume that wowed in 2015 and the Myanmar puppet costume of 2016… all these had massive impact that got media mileage and had pageant fans talking. It is no wonder why this year, the national costumes that have just been revealed are expected to illicit the same shock factor come finals.

First to be revealed is the Thai national costume that is expected to be a frontrunner for the national costume award. Maria Poonlertlarp will be wearing a costume named Chasing the light, which is inspired by Thai mythology of Mekkala “Goddess of Lightning”, and Ramasoon “Thunder God”. The costume is said to be made out of fiber optics and LED lights to create light effects onstage.

Then we recently have seen the “Nasi Lemak” costume of Samantha Katie James of Malaysia. This Malaysian national dish is considered one of the most popular Southeast Asian dishes in the world. While this may have met with mixed reviews, in the cases that I have covered the MU pageant, this is exactly the kind of national costume that gets attention…and television ratings for MU…

Olivia Molly Rogers also have revealed an intriguing costume inspired by the Sydney Opera House. It features a white bustier-top covered in pearls and Swarovski crystals, it is topped off by a light-up skirt with sails and sparkling replica fireworks inspired by the annual Vivid Light Festival. There are two LED projectors built into the dress and more than 500 individual lights. The national costume is expected to light up when worn during the national costume show.

Gone are the days when traditional costumes are the rage for the National Costume special award. Nowadays, it is all about wow factor and shock quotient. 

Nostalgia: The Pineapple Filipiniana Costume

One of the most heavily criticized national costumes that a Filipina beauty queen wore to a national pageant was the Pineapple Filipiniana costume worn by Carla Gay Balingit (to Miss Universe) and Precious Lara Quigaman (in Miss International).

The national costume was a creation by Colombian designer Alfredo Barraza. 

In retrospect, the costume wasn’t bad as we all thought. It poked a little bit of fun with its literal interpretation of the piña fabric from pineapple fibers that the traditional Filipino costumes are made from. It was festive, it was out of the box and perhaps too ahead of its time. After all it was only in 2015 when we were all surprised by a tuktuk national costume from Thailand.

#FashionFridays: Haute Couture National Costumes

Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week has finished last July but Sashes&Scripts still has a couture hangover. With couture pieces costing about US$100,000++ for a fully embellished one, we scoured the net for ones that can be used as national costumes. These pieces below are from the world’s best fashion designers like John Galliano, Oscar dela Renta, Balmain, Donatella Versace, and Jean Paul Gaultier. Will you be willing to shell out at least US$100,000 for one of these?

Balmain (left), Oscar dela Renta (right)
Dolce & Gabanna Alta Moda (left), Versace (right)
Jean Paul Gaultier (left), Roberto Cavalli (right)
Jean Paul Gaultier
John Galliano for Dior
John Galliano for Dior
John Galliano for Dior

PhotoCollage of the Day: Terno-Barong by Rau Uson-Ablaza

It’s too early to do a #FashionFridays post but with the release of the top 10 national costumes of Binibining Pilipinas, I thought it would be a good timing to feature one of my personal national costume faves this year.

This fusion of the Philippine Terno and the Barong Tagalog by designer Rau Uson-Ablaza was worn by Dane Felise Marasigan. Let’s take a closer peek at the costume in the following photocollages…

This is one of my faves this year…


The Making of a Bb Pilipinas National Costume Pt.2

With a lavish and ambitious costume such as the La Reina Emperatriz terno, the next phase is to find a designer to collaborate with to make this vision into reality. This is where Sir Pablo Galicia Mendez came in. It was this symbiotic partnership that made a flat 2D illustration come to life.

What made this tandem a perfect collaboration was the fact that there were much discussions involved on the material, color and execution. Unlike other designers who are too strict in their vision, the ‘La Reina Emperatriz‘ costume was borne out of constant fine tuning which kept the creative juices flowing. The design itself was a living evolving creation. It was as much as Sir Pablo’s as it was mine. This is where the creative sensibilities of two merged to come up with a magnificent overall outcome for the original design.

What he did was to bring new ideas of embossed embroideries (like those of Marian and Sto. Nino statues), brass embellishments, stones and crystals mixed with 3D printing to make this a totally fresh take on the traditional terno. Through his connections in the industry, he was able to find artist/ painter Jeffrey Catuira who did all the 3D printing on the costume (mainly located on the sides and back panels). Throughout weeks of back and forth discussions, we were able improve, alter and polish on the design. Eventually the design was simplified so instead of layers, it became just a single layer in ecru. The crown was a bit of an overkill and was dropped and the stiffness was lessened. So when it was time to submit original designs for BPCI to see, the design was met with immediate approval.
In fact, Conchitina Bernardo even exclaimed that this was inspired from Santo Niño. The costume was jokingly nicknamed ‘our lady of Araneta’ (Nuestra Señora de Araneta in Spanish) due to its overall design, despite the fact that it was the Santacruzan that first inspired it.

The final terno was made from a structured material embellished with baroque gold metal brass, heavy embroideries with crystals and stones, plus 3D painting. Topping the costume was a baroque gold brass headdress that is a representation of the halo of Saint Helena.
Such creative endeavor are quite rare to see nowadays. For me this was not just an exercise of creativity but a proof that when two or three or four minds come together to collaborate, the outcome is always a labour of love… While this isn’t my first rodeo (so to speak), I am nonetheless intrigued if such possibility will present itself again in the future. But if it does, I already have a design in mind and it will be an exercise of one’s haute couture sensibilities once again…