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.
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?
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…
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…
In all honesty, I wasn’t supposed to write up a national costume review this year. However upon reading a pseudo-fashionista’s review of the supposed “best” this year, I thought everyone might benefit from a perspective from one who studied fashion, had and still has a career in fashion, knows how to drape/pattern/construct clothing, has shown in the Philippine Fashion Week and one whose perspective on fashion is not from the ‘outside looking in‘. Here’s a true perspective from someone that has been in the fashion industry since studying Clothing Technology in the University of the Philippines…
The Good Looks like a majority of the candidates had leveled up their national costumes this year. I don’t see any tacky looking ternos or costumes this year. There are those that stuck with the tried and tested formula of elegance and refined taste, while others tried the ‘cultural significance’ route…but most looked spectacular in their costumes. I will not say who had the best out of delicadeza being one that co-designed Charmaine Elima’s terno. However, I should say that my other favorites were those worn by Dane Felise Marasigan, Angelique de Leon, Gillian Eliza Colcol and Christagale Borja. I would also give a shoutout to Sirene Sutton for her fashion pushing avant garde terno despite some people being on the fence whether they liked it or not. It was a risky move, not sure if it did pay off as Binibining Pilipinas might not necessarily be the best avenue for this kind of risk. The Bad Did anybody noticed how uncannily long the legs of the ladies in their national costumes? Well, for the untrained eye, these looked fabulous, but for those that work with images and image editing for a living they looked disproportionate. I am most unfortunate to notice the stretching of the lower legs in most candidates owing to some roses and other props looking ‘weirdly stretched out‘. When doing photo-manipulations like these, the graphic artists needs to make sure that rounded shapes are kept in proportion and not looking elongated. Another thing that I noticed is that there were several ternos that looked a bit dated with the high contrast appliques/embellishments on their costumes that did not achieve design harmony. The high contrast color matching was good last year, but fashion changes and it looked dated this year. No need to mention whose costumes I am referring to though… to protect the names of the fashionably guilty…
The Fabulous! The set design is so faboosh! The gold frames and the vintage chandeliers really amped up the glam factor for this shoot. It provided the essential mood and ambiance to set up the entire shoot. I particularly liked the wax candles, pearls and the rose touches in the set, it gave some kind of Louis XIV vibe into the finished photos (Edited: thanks for noticing the typo error). The only missing perhaps in the set are those white gilded baroque walls to truly capture the Versailles feeling on the set. Kudos to the set designer Marc Santos for dreaming up this confection. I would also like to give a shout out to photographer Raymond Saldana for the nice dramatic lighting on the photos. despite the ‘stretching’ issue, the overall impact of the pictures were actually very dramatic. I really am liking the play on the shadows and light in most pictures as it added a little more drama.
Despite being a replacement candidate, Binibini #36 Gillian Eliza Colcol manages to surprise us with a very ‘old world couture’ evoking Philippine terno from Manny Halasan. This ‘Sampaguita’ themed terno is one of my favorites in the national costumes worn by the candidates this year.
The terno as described by the designer in his Instagram: The Modern Terno is made in gray color which defines Maturity and Resposibility, strongly signifies how empowering a Modern Filipina is today. The gown was perfectly embellished with Swarovski Crystals and touches of Sampaguita flowers. (“Sampaguita” was came from Filipino words “Sumpa Kita” meaning “I Promise You”. It also symbolizes love, purity, devotion, dedication, strength and fidelity)
What I truly liked about this Philippine terno is the masterful and methodological way of the swags and flounces are done. It actually reminds me of old Filipino couture master’s work like those of Joe Salazar or Inno Sotto. It does not have to rely on the brash and shock tactics of the other costumes.
When I was asked to conceptualize a lavish Philippine national costume, the first that came to mind is how we are fascinated with the religious pageantry of the Santacruzan. It is no surprise that I heavily drew influences on that Philippine tradition of the Sagalas for a unique terno.
The national costume that I sketched and conceptualized using computer graphics was the birth-child of a brainstorming session with our Sash Factor head, Larry Elima. He wanted something that is inspired by the Nuestra Señora La Laval, but worked around it so as not to offend religious sensibilities. Instead we thought of a lavish La Reina Emperatriz costume that hasn’t been done before in Philippine pageantry that borrows elements from religious statues. Did you know that the Reina Emperatriz and Reina Elena are one and the same person? Saint Helena upon the ascension of Emperor Constantine was honoured with the title as Queen Mother of the Holy Roman Empire. And that in Santacruzan when there is more than one lass being considered as Reina Elena the other can be bestowed with the Reina Emperatriz title, which are of equal importance. The difference in depiction of the two is that the Reina Elena would usually carry a gold cross and a bible while the Reina Emperatriz is decked with a crown and a scepter.
The design that I conceptualized for the Reina Emperatriz went with several permutations and revisions to arrive at its final version. I first came up with a trapeze silhouette that is reminiscent of the Santo Nino statues usually found in Philippine ancestral homes’ altars. Originally, the design was to have it in silk gazar with a circular cape as outer layer of the costume. The circular cape was to be decked with lace appliques and laser cut flowers then hand-sewn with crystals. A headdress that is patterned from the halos of religious statues adorns the head with a gold crown (TRIVIA: this idea came to me first back in 2013 when I illustrated a white La Emperatriz costume I would have loved to see on Ariella Arida in Moscow). The design was rendered in blue, black and then gold to which the gold option was the one that struck us the most.
It got several more edits before it was finalized. When both I and Sir Larry were satisfied with the design, we agreed that this would be the one we will present for a lass planning to join Binibining Pilipinas 2017. During our meet up in Manila on September of last year, we finally showed the design to its eventual co-designer, Pablo Galicia Mendez.