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National Costumes for Catriona Gray

We are counting the weeks before the biggest pageant known to the universe kicks off. Just like in previous years, we have come up with ideas we would want for our Miss Universe bet to wear in the pageant.
These are just several of my personal interpretation of the costume ideas. If you have other ideas on how these can be improved, drop a comment or two below.
Here are three of the costume ideas that we believe could be perfect for Catriona Gray in Bangkok this year.

1. Panagbenga Festival costume – the premier flower festival of the north. This costume isn’t new to pageant fans as Miss Universe Philippines 2014 Mary Jean Lastimosa wore something to this effect in Doral. The difference here is that this costume marries elements of Dior haute couture with the traditional costume. Add a lovely parasol decked with flowers and sprayed with floral perfume and you get yourself a very modern take to this Panagbenga terno.

2. The Goddess Lisuga – the goddess of stars from the Visayan mythology. It is said that a shard from her body was used to seed the human race. This would be a great idea to incorporate pre-hispanic traditions and folktales for a non-traditional costume. One can have his/her imagination run wild on how this could be executed specially with the tale that the goddess Lisuga’s body is made out of pilak/ silver. Give her a bow and arrow to signify “shooting stars” and you get mash-up of a costume.

3. Tausug Vinta inspired costume – I’d like to explore an explosion of colors as seen on the ornate vintas of Mindanao. The sails would be an interesting thing to translate to a costume. I imagine this simple costume using patchwork of sequined fabrics. The result will be a dazzling homage to the colorful vintas of Mindanao.
My option ideas span one from each island groups of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Which of these do you think would be a great idea to pursue for Miss Universe? Drop a comment or two on the comment section below…

National Costume Wish-List for Jehza Huelar

The Miss Supranational pageant is more of a showcase of showmanship than a traditional pageant. So it only goes to say that the wardrobe for this pageant should look like a fashion show of sorts.
These two costume wishlist for Binibining Pilipinas Supranational Jehza Huelar would be some of the options that I feel would be reflective of her background…

1. Mascota de Zamboanga – of course I would want something that would be apt for Jehza’s background coming from Mindanao. One of the highlights of the annual Hermosa Festival  in Zamboanga City is Mascota de Zamboanga, a gala event which showcases formal and elegant gowns called the Mascota designed by local artists. This costume would greatly reflect her roots.

2. Yakan Costume – I am deeply amazed at the white face-painting that these tribes would do during weddings. With their adoption of colorful garb, it would be interesting to see how it can be translated into very intricate outfit for a beauty pageant. Yakan weaving of cottons and silks are some of the most remarkable textiles in Mindanao. I can just imagine the numerous possibilities for this wonderful attire.

National Costume Wish-List for Karen Gallman

While it may be easy to go the ‘tribal costume’ route for Binibining Pilipinas Intercontinental Karen Gallman, I believe in going towards the more classy Filipiniana for her. But I would like for her to go for more clean feminine colors to really set off her beautiful face. Her Binibining Pilipinas costume was on point but I would have preferred a more graceful and light fabrics for her. I also believe that pastels would be great for her as long as she doesn’t over bake her tan. Or go all the way dramatic with gold, red and black, I don’t think cold colors (greens, purples, blues) works well with her…

Now on to the two national costume ideas I feel would be great for her…
1. A ‘Mantilla’ Costume – the lace veil worn when women go to mass was a Spanish custom adapted by Filipinos during the the Hispanic colonization of the country. Karen’s Caucasian features would be so perfect with this Hispanic inspired costume and an added Spanish pieneta would add height and old world glamor.
2. An ‘Imeldific’ terno with a lace parasol– with a face like hers, Karen doesn’t need much of an elaborate costume. Inspired by a number of photographs of the former First Lady of the Philippines, the idea stems out of how composed and collected she looked. The focal point of this costume is Karen’s lovely face and not the costume itself. The delicateness of the design and of course the parasol lends to her beauty not the other way around.

I hope that Karen gets to be given the best wardrobe and the best training if we want the Philippines’ first Miss Intercontinental crown. Hopefully, she has already started to map out her gameplan as early as now for the international pageant…

Creative Vision: The Making of a National Costume

The national costume has got to be my favorite part in any pageant wardrobe. I get more excited with the lavishness and grandiosity of seeing our culture represented in a garb than seeing sneak peeks of one’s evening gown.

Last year, I had the privilege to be asked to create a concept art for Charmaine Elima’s national costume. The idea then was to capitalize on her dusky morena skin with a Nuestra Senora La Naval inspired national costume.  One that pays homage to the Filipinos love and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It may not have won best national costume but it did create buzz around the candidate who wore it. That costume created waves among pageant fans and that was always the goal.  Which is the point of today’s blogpost: a focus on the national costume and how it should be designed and executed.
Whenever I am doing a national costume re-imagining or asked to create a concept design, I only have two considerations: 1) it should feel and look AUTHENTIC to the Filipino culture and 2) it should create DRAMA and IMPACT.

Vision to reality: the exquisite details that jumped from paper to fabric and jewelry…

Authenticity is a hard thing to do nowadays with a number of national costumes in pageants. When I did the concept art for Valerie’s costume for Dances of the World, it did receive some flak on the usage of the color blue instead of the traditional black and red of the T’boli tribe. Nobody knew that the costume was actually a Blit Blaan costume, a dance from the B’laan tribe which uses navy, blue and white with other colors in their wardrobe. There is a lot of misinformation that could happen based on Filipinos limited knowledge of our own culture which is the point of research to make it feel authentic.

Take into account the recent Maranao costume of Catriona Gray. A number of pageant fans assumed that it was a Singkil costume (perhaps owing to the fact that it’s the most popular Marano dance). Others had actually went to post online the inaccuracy of the parasol saying that the princess in the singkil dance only holds the apir fans and the parasol was to be held by her handmaiden (it is noteworthy to mention that the position of a handmaiden in court is reserved for the noble families not for slaves). The costume however pays homage to a lesser known Maranao dance called the Kinakulangan where maidens would hold parasols and handkerchiefs as they dance. Actual research has to back up every design to reinforce being authentic. It is the only way to be respectful to the culture that the costume is representing.

The parasol looked exactly as the concept art. The Sarimanok on top was my idea to dramatically create a lasting impact and to lift this iconic creature higher…

There is also the aspect of impact and high-drama. Every costume needs to have visual impact for it to stand out among a sea of costumes. Whether it was the bells of the B’laan costume of Valerie, the body-tattoos of the Pintados costume of Mary Ann Ross Misa, the religious connotations of Charmaine’s terno or the Sarimanok atop Catriona’s parasol…there has to be a focal point that gives the wow factor. There has to be that element that ties everything together without sacrificing the overall impact of the entire look.

When you put these two elements together, you get a memorable costume. Authenticity and Impact.

National Costume Wish-List for Eva Patalinjug

If I were given the opportunity to create a concept art for a national costume to be worn by Eva Patalinjug for Miss Grand International, I would gladly accept the chance.

I actually have a couple of ideas for her national costume that I feel would be great for her pageant in Myanmar come October 25th.
1. Sinulog Festival Costume – of course this should be an option as Eva comes from Cebu. The Sinulog festival queen outfit would be so perfect for her mestiza beauty and will tie-up perfectly with her hometown of Cebu. I would love to make the concept art in a grandiose and extravagant manner, something that the MGI pageant seems to favor.

2. Boxer Codex Pintados Costume – one of the oldest documents in existence regarding the pintados of Visayas is the Boxer Codex that illustrated the ornate tattoos and the rich gold heritage of pre-Hispanic Philippines. The difference here is I would make it with a little more color to make it festive.
The national costume for Eva should be something that represents her and her background. I hope that Eva would be given a great wardrobe for her competition. I believe that she can actually be the first Filipina Miss Grand International winner…

Sashes&Scripts’ Selection of 12 Best Costumes in Bb. Pilipinas 2018!

The Jag Jeans and the National Costume fashion show had finished last March 3rd but it still dominates pageant discussions on social media. While the BPCI has selected its 10 best costumes, I felt that the quality of national costumes this year is so high that I have to shout out my own picks of 12.

12. Agatha Romero in John Cliff – being so close to the stage, I could see all these intricate details of the bodice of this terno. On top of that is how parts of it are added with LED lights!
11. Anjame Magbitang in Sonny Boy Mindo – this was one of those costumes that would make you feel you are a Filipino. This Katipunero costume was a breathe of fresh air as it was apt for the youngest Binibini in the pageant.
10. Shane Tormes in Polly Lagyap – another creative take on the national costume in this year’s competition. It is said to celebrate the Laing and the Magbubuko, which was an awesome idea.
9. Kristie Rose Cequena in Richard Barretto – an out of the box costume that celebrates the Moriones festival. This was one of the more creative ensembles that night.

8. Janette Sturm in Jay-R Gamboa Flores – the novelty of this costume is so much welcome. I can only imagine the long hours of creating an outfit that is almost devoid of fabric. Yes, the gown was almost made entirely out of interlocking beads!
7. Stephanie Abellanida in Archie Castillo – black and gold is my color du jour! And I loved everything about this costume, the headpiece was superb as well as the intricacy of the beading on the outfit.
6. Mary Joy de Castro in Albert Figueras – would have preferred the outfit with a different headpiece. I remembered the headpiece of this costume being worn by Emma Tiglao in MWP.
5. Eva Patalinjug in Philipp Tampus – gave drama in spades! Styled like a golden era screen goddess, the worked the costume to the Nth level.

4. Sandra Lemonon in Edwin Uy – the girl performed her best ‘Urduja’ moves in this costume. Although I don’t get which was the Ibong Adarna part, Sandra carried it with aplomb.
3. Aya Abesamis in Chico Estiva – thank God for the cape or else it would have looked like a generic gown with the apir fans and a sunray headdress. Aya carried it effortlessly.
2. Sarah Joson in Jay-R Gamboa Flores – it was a gorgeous ensemble. And it looked better in person. This amalgam of several indigenous tribes’ outfits was perfection. I loved the tiny brass bells in it as well.
1. Vickie Rushton in Francis Libiran – that punch of red at the start of the natcos segment placed the bar high. I thought this is one of the best that night. It was haute couture levels in its construction technique!
I felt that the BPCI selection has shut out a number of gorgeous ternos so I am giving it equal footing here on the list. There is also a diversity in terms of creative and out of the box choices for the costumes. I commend the designers for a leveled up national costumes this year!

Another thing I also observed that the BPCI selection of the 10 best NCs seems to be a test of which fandom will likely be the noisiest online. So I am very much excited to see which of the girls’ fan groups is the strongest on voting for the national costume award.
Note that since I had helped conceptualize the national costume for Binibini 20, it goes to say that it has automatically been excluded in this list, you know, for obvious reasons.

Catriona’s National Costume by Jearson Dimavivas & Farah Abu

The national costume of Binibini 20 Catriona Gray is a collaborative effort between several creatives and designers who worked on different parts of the costume. While the concept may have been my contribution, I would have to say that the bulk of the credits should be given to the designers who created the costume and the accessories.
Jearson Dimavivas was the perfect choice to create the costume. He is from Mindanao and his point of view of the traditions and cultures of southern Philippines was of intrinsic value. He is a designer for royalties in Mindanao and he was dedicated to delivering an outfit that is fit for a queen. The painstaking work that went along the ensemble warranted a 24/7 commitment. His insight to replicate a mosque’s dome for the headdress was an ode to the people of Marawi and the survivors of the siege.

The main outfit as well as the tasseled umbrella was created by Jearson. The umbrella was originally lighter than the final outcome. However some sort of welding was needed to stabilize the arcs inside the umbrella. It was sort of a testament to Catriona’s fighting spirit to keep holding the umbrella up considering that it weighted 4 kilos. Jearson also did a little jazzing up on the custom-made shoes that Catriona wore from shoe designer extraordinaire, Jojo Bragais.

For interested parties who would like to have Jearson create a one of a kind outfit for you, here is how you can contact the designer. Trust me, you will enjoy working with him…
Instagram: @jearsond
Viber & Whatsapp number: +639156648658

Farah Abu on the other hand created the amazing accessories that went along the costume. Those gorgeous shoulder sweeper earrings that Catriona wore? Those were specifically handcrafted by the very talented Farah. Her work is just extraordinary. The first time I met her in a shoot, I had to pick up my jaw that got dropped with her statement necklace piece that she was wearing in the collage above. It was a covet-worthy piece!

Farah, also from Mindanao, handcrafted these exquisite jewelry pieces that went along Catriona’s costume. She created a lovely pair of shoulder sweepers that would help frame Catriona’s face even more. Not to mention the couple of rings set with Swarovski crystals and semi-precious stones. One bracelet she did was to genius, that it had chains that connected a ring to it! All these were used by Catriona in the national costume show.

Ladies and pageant girls! Give yourself a treat and get yourself one or a couple of Farah’s jewelry. I can guarantee that it will make your wardrobe pop!
Mobile number: +63 917 716 2153
Instagram: @farah_abu

This photo was a snapshot taken at the Bb. Pilipinas 2018 Candidate exhibition at the Gateway Mall…

With the designers working in unison, the output was a visual orgasm of sorts. It was no wonder that it elicited thunderous applause from pageant fans that watched the national costume fashion show last March 3rd. Rightfully so, this costume was among the top 10 national costumes that will serve as choices of the Best in National Costume award via online voting.

Catriona’s Maranao Princess National Costume

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.

The Original Concept Art of the national costume…

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.

The designer, Jeason Dimavivas with Catriona and me, your blogger…

A collaboration of minds and a creative exercise on synergy… This is what made the costume a true standout.

#FashionFridays: Charlene Gonzales’ Miss Universe National Costume

If I was asked what is my favorite national costume ever worn in Miss Universe, I would unequivocally say the T’boli-Manobo costume of Charlene Gonzales in 1994.

During the live finals telecast, Charlene did not wear the headdress portion of her national costume like the rest of the candidates…

This was the only Philippine national costume so far to win Best National Costume in the history of Miss Universe. It was designed by the Fashion Czar of Asia and National Artist Jose “Pitoy” Moreno. In his book “Philippine Costume” the entire ensemble was described as follows:
This ensemble draws inspiration from the Bagobo and the Higanon. Her upper garment is of gold material appliqued with authentic Bagobo t’nalak bands. In lieu of tapis, Charlene dons a skirt with t’nalak panels, this is further held in place with an authentic female Bagobo belt of glass beads and brass bells. The whole ensemble is reiterated further with gold beads, more brass bells. A Higanon headdress crowns her to complete the ensemble.

The costume may have earned a bit of controversy for winning as the majority of the judges who selected the winner were Filipinos. Nevertheless, the award is very much deserved as it made noise literally and figuratively.
What made me love this costume is its authenticity and the research that went into making the costume. Nowadays, designers seem to be very lazy in doing costumes that should feature our culture and customs. The country is rich with tradition and there should be more than enough resources to make one that is impactful, well-designed and authentic. And I found all of that in Charlene’s national costume…