Forgive the fashion connoisseur

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Forgive the fashion connoisseur. 

Who thought the name ‘connoisseur’ is right for anything fashion. 

A form that claims to be high, sophisticated, classy

But class is for the few

It is not what a connoisseur is. 

A connoisseur is a judge in taste.

Taste is not for a select few. 

Taste must be for all. 

Pick a dress, pay the price — the high price

For it is handmade, they claim, for it is beaded, they say

For it is sweat, and blood, and tears, and fluids, and semen, yes. 

But where is toil? 

Only good art has the toil of the craft. 

 

Fashion feeds on beauty, the beauty that is the popular form. 

What is the popular form? Tall, lean, foxy, and hot

Head turners and eye grabbers and toy grabbers you may add

They dream about a fashionable, beautiful, world

When they feed on endless booze, endless wine, endless laughter

at the expense of the unfortunate who cannot even maintain a diet.

 

They dream of a fashionable world, of king’s and queen’s, of Victorian dresses,

of Marie Antoinette hairs, or French courts,

when their actions are not even noble,

nor acceptable in royal courts.

Dream of a fashionable world, you can have the right,

When you give up carnal pleasures and limitless desires

To dress up what you think are ugly ducklings

and penniless witches, for you to understand more 

To dress up the entire world the way you dress up

your gods and goddesses, your models

To dress up without expecting a dime

Dream of a fashionable world, you are free,

when you have understood the world.

Forgive the fashion connoisseur

Who will never do fashion, never ever, until it serves all.

The Wind

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The wind always puzzles me

Whererever it goes, it starts, it flows

The wind is like a traitor, in all its ways

Siding no one but its own

The sails are fortunate if the winds hails with it

But death it brings when it chooses to harm

However cruel the winds are, she cannot be hated

I love the wind for it serves no one but its own

The wind that brings coconut seeds to shore, 

or mango seeds to fields, the wind that teaches

the cornfields how to dance

that tells the animals and dragonflies where to go

The wind that commands the sea.Image

 

What happens in the dark: Opening my advocacy

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Towering buildings and skyscrapers may be structures of progress, of nation-building, and of building a steadfast common identity. We see them around the areas and hubs of fast-paced living, of luxurious living, and of lights.

But city lights, as the night opens, offer us a different world view. Everything can happen.

As I walk around the area that is Makati, I am nervously bothered seeing foreign men, well mostly, and there are also the other hunters, with Filipina women on their hands. I would hate seeing them grasping the buttocks of the women like devouring bread. I would hate seeing them hold hands as if they have known each other for a long time. I would hate seeing a foreign man purchase a Prada bag for the women in exchange for something gruesome.

On the other side of the coin, there are the transgenders, whom I consider pimps, basking with foreign men, mostly Asian, to seek out a pleasurable experience. Likewise, I would hate seeing the nightly pubs springing like moss on walls, or tall grasses on lawns, which cater to people of different spectrum, as they would claim. These are dirty places, mirrors of poverty. I will not forget the shows that serve what they call as “beauty” and “glamorous” when the cooking involved rats and cockroaches, perhaps broken fingers, like the baker from Sweeney Todd.

After the show goes talking and after the talking goes deals, and after the deals goes commando. And this all happens during the dark. Not only this, the boon of human trafficking and prostitution have went beyond border lines, Filipinas transported to become mail-order brides, models harassed and enslaved, with the promise of one single thing: to walk and to be famous.

Cue Coldplay’s “Playing God.”

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This is what exactly inspired me to kick start my advocacy against human trafficking and prostitution in all their kinds and forms. The status of prostitution in the country has been getting worse by the day, and by the night, as well as the status of human trafficking around the globe.

Glad that we have laws penalizing those who engage in such acts, but again, we ask ourselves: are these enough?

Some men and women are turned into commodities like collections in a room, like toys of a child, like horses in a pen, and bought for pleasure. They glance at them like gods and goddesses never knowing the cost of what they do. I have seen, in one of the runway shows I have watched, a person trying to establish communication lines, or in simple terms, trying to get the number, with a model, perhaps to purchase him. Monstrous.

We may be gearing ourselves and driving towards progress but when progress involves under-the-table and behind-the-curtain activities, this has to stop. Driving toward progress must be clean, as it should always be.

SM Men’s Fashion show brought London to Manila

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What’s best about my October before it ends and turns into dreadful November? The chance of being selected as one of the winners of SM Men’s Fashion’s #WhoIsGandy Twitter contest. The contest made me post my most uncanny photos I searched from my album baul, the overly slim phases of my life with a dog on a leash just to say that hey, I got a photo with a dog like Gandy.

Seeing the show’s stage from my perspective, I was a little disappointed at first. One, the orchestra positioned on the center stage is covered with a circular and curved LED screen. Two, a circular runway, seriously? It would be difficult for both the audiences and the photographers to take a perfect glimpse of the looks with the models walking in a circular pattern. Three, a blank, black fabric hanging from behind the stage. I told myself, is this how you’ll make the show for David Gandy, the world’d highest-paid male supermodel?

But I was wrong.

As the models walked like horses on a carousel ride or people walking on a running disc, the collection from SM Men’s Fashion blew my heart away. I have always thought the SM Department Store would offer small and economical designs. Strolling around the mall with the talkative sales people and disorganized set-up makes me think it is a thrift and bargain store.

The stage was a Transformers character in itself, combining dream-like production and innovative set design. It brought London to Manila. The LED lights revealed the orchestra that started playing stringed versions of pop music. It was then that I realized the the circular runway may be a voice for a London’s Big Ben, even hyped with the revelation of the backdrop, a lighted design with circles that resembled the Big Ben at night. It was from there where David Gandy entered.

 

When the models showed of their SM items, it had a multiple personality – from David Gandy-fied looks, punk and sporty attires into one, fabulous knits, ready-to-wear, and clothes perfect for summer next year – I knew it was going to be an amazing show. We just don’t mind the out-of-the-normal walk of the models in a circular way, but maybe it was meant to show the clothes’ back part.

Denim, dashing, debonair

Some say denim is so 90s. SM Men’s Fashion proves them wrong. The night opened with a celebration of denim wear, checkered, developing from rugged styles to styles that can be brought to creative prom nights.

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Space, time, prints

From a rugged barn collection, the showcase shifted to highly elaborate print designs featuring lines, intersections, and shapes.

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Midway between summer and winter

What made the looks summer-y? The hotness. What made the looks winter-y? The red checkered styles, matching soft couches in front of fireplaces. It’s Christmas time!

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I didn’t know SM Menswear can be cool too

The hippest and coolest collection followed suit. This is the point where being athletic and being punk are combined into one. The silver spikes and buttons on caps, light pastels stuck with black colors, and head straps. You got it.

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David Gandy-fied

The first words that came from my mouth when the first look of this collection entered the stage was, “very David Gandy.” Let’s skip the part when we have to impress David Gandy that Filipinos know him and his looks, and his campaigns, by heart. But there can only be one David Gandy. Sorry, models.

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Summer it is!

It’s a common nature for menswear fashion shows in the country to force the models to show some skin. The collection, I didn’t understand where it came from.

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Gandy full of charms

Let’s forgive the highest paid supermodel for adapting the model-turned-stars habit of smiling while doing the ramp walk. Let’s forgive him from drawing out yells from the audience. For the less one a minute exposure, let’s forgive him.

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The stand of fashion once, and for all

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When fashion PR maven Kelly Cutrone founded her agency and called it “People’s Revolution,” was she trying to mock the left-wing groups who care about the masses?

When Philippine Fashion Week head Joey Epsino, on his monumental walk on the local runway as the fashion week opening and closing shows said, “all we have to do is stand up,” is he being sarcastic or is he beginning to get socially concerned?

When what people consider as “fashion” around the world has only catered to a select few, is this the end for those who push for ideals?

Photo by Bea Malveda

Photo by Bea Malveda

It is true that the fashion world are getting bigger and bigger, more ateliers and design shops are springing around the metro. There are more young designers trying to carve their niches in the fashion world, as veteran designers try to keep with the pace and stay connected with their clients beginning to get loose. In the global fashion world alone, Asian-bred designers are gradually earning the spotlight, with Hollywood stars pouring their money out to new and coming designers in the world scene instead of staying with the top-brass designers.

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I was on a train ride with a friend who also blogs about fashion. By the way, train rides are also an issue of the debate between fashion consumerism and fashion-for-all. It is a common scene during Philippine Fashion Week that commuters see a throng of fashionistas wearing high heels, silver amulets, bracelets and necklaces I mean, face made up walk on the train hallways like runway models. Fashion enthusiasts riding a public transport. A bigger fashion world? An increasing fan-base of fashion? Maybe. Fashion has been infiltrating the masses one single step at a time.

So I was on a train ride with a friend who also blogs about fashion. She studies Journalism (the course I graduated from) told me the sarcasms she gets from her colleagues because of being “into fashion.” Journalism is a course that tries to clean-up wrongdoings, much like an exposition of the “truth.” With that way, it cannot help itself but to be with the masses, cry with them, laugh with them, and take lunch with them. Enduring a world filled with intensifying consumerism while seeing people stricken by poverty means giving up your mandate.

My friend said, “Fashion is for all –rich or poor, if you have that heart, you can make it!” Bryan Boy? Nina Garcia? You got it.

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My Twitter page says I am a fashion connoisseur and a theater advocate – two things whose inner advocacy and ideals clearly do not match. Fashion for the rich, theater mirroring the ills of the society. However, the notion that both caters and interests to the rich is a shallow reasoning. Both are forms of art, and as art, they both tell a message. Maybe the country is not yet ready for a progressive fashion industry (many designers still struggle to get their designs marketed, as theater artists struggle to get their shows watched). Maybe what we need first is a country that is progressive before art becomes a necessity.

So the stand of fashion? We may be dressed elegantly but we are standing beneath a shed, inside a train station, waiting for the rain to stop. Fashion and “people’s revolution” in whatever form can work hand in hand.

*This one’s for your confusions, Bea Malveda.

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It’s the men’s turn: Pilipinas Men’s Fashion Week Cycle 3 this weekend!

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As a fashion blogger who has to keep up with the style, I am more of a fan of menswear than RTWs or couture outfits tailored for women. I could identify, and appreciate the style of women, but as someone who venerates the menswear, I try to be as masculine as I could be in my personal style. Many menswear collections today are driving towards the feminine side — more floral patterns, more curves, more fabrics. I may not be a fan of outrageous menswear collections.

That is why there is a need to draw lines between a fashion week ruled by female wear and a fashion week ruled by menswear. The world currently has few menswear fashion shows such as in London, Milan, Paris, Los Angeles, and Pitti Uomo. The Philippines, on its own little footsteps, is trying to keep up with the growing global phenomenon – holding a fashion week no matter how small-scale it may be. Hint, hint, it is during menswear fashion shows that you could very well identify which is going towards the feminine masculine and the solid masculine.

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Everything still seems to be small for Pilipinas Men’s Fashion Week…

From a small and tight restobar in Makati called Covas Tapas Y Sangria where the press preview and launch was held, the small array of models who showed some of the designs, the small crowd, and the small venue in Robinsons Manila, you could clearly see that Pilipinas Men’s Fashion Week is quite far from being a global event, as differed from the Philippine Fashion Week which has its own menswear show.

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But however small, the grandiosity of the designs makes us think that being noticed is the only loophole, Some of the designers of the menswear whom I have seen in previous fashion shows, such as Nico Agustin, Jovan dela Cruz, and Mark dela Pena, are promising.

With other designers, they are going to present their Spring/Summer 2014 collection for fashionista and stylish men to go crazy as the year opens.

The Pilipinas Men’s Fashion Week Cycle 3 is happening September 28 and September 29 at Robinsons Place Manila at 4 p.m. It will feature designers such as Manny Halasan, Dave Ocampo, Vin Orias, Edwin Uy, and Clint Catalan among others. The show is produced by Nico Agustin, Joseph Montelibano, and MJ Alminanza.

Be sure to get those solid menswear fever on!

Like the official page of Top Model Rewritten here: https://www.facebook.com/TopModelRewritten

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Rock musical “Lorenzo” is a journey through the confessional

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Hearing that Christopher de Leon’s (as producer) Lorenzo is to be a rock musical on stage, you expect it to be full of new things such as the audience’s secret stomping of feet to blend with the music. Having seen most plays that are simplistic in nature with the content and the acting as the main priorities, Lorenzo edged out others because of its spectacle and heavy visuals.

The artistic staff has a reason behind it. The story, two parallel lives of patron saint Lorenzo escaping from assassins and Laurence, an Overseas Filipino Worker trying to escape death because of his crime, was a heavy one. There was a need to turn it into a rock musical and splatter it with visuals that are difficult to label in a single pile. Is it a Filipino-inspired theme with Japanese patches, or a Japanese-inspired production with a Filipino character playing midst it? Or is it simply a disorganization of ideas?

1lorenzoFor someone who is not interested with anything rock like me, the sounds and the visuals presented by the production were captivating factors for my ears and eyes. An actor, the antagonist, holding out a microphone, yelling and belting out tunes was something new. A variety of movements on stage – from contemporary dance to Japanese routines – was something new. The creative interpretation of falling snow as flower petals thrown out by Japanese maidens from a basket was something new.  The genre of a rock musical itself was an experimentation on Philippine theater. The play totally had a lot of innovative ideas.

However, the weight of the plot has drawn the audience into the pit of “emotional torture” that it appeared as though it was hard to escape. Some actors tried to lighten up the somber mood by injecting comic lines, but failed to turn the table around. It started heavy and ended heavy. Watching the play was like listening to a three-hour confession of the gravest of sins that the characters have committed. Plot and story-wise, it was like vomiting blood continuously, except for the second act which I think was the best for me. The idea of using a Rashomon narration, just don’t mind the comics flashed on screen, was fantastic. It pulled St. Lorenzo Ruiz back to his human state, that maybe he murdered the Spaniard out of sheer anger. The ending was quite unsatisfactory because of lack in weight. Shouldn’t tragedies’ endings be heavier than the entire story? Death was expected but to surprise the audience more with a revelation would have been an eye candy.

Visuals-wise, Lorenzo succeeded to meet expectations and wow the audience with the style. I never liked Japanese culture, only now that I find Nippon food quite appealing to my taste buds. But more than that, the play inspired me to explore more on the outstanding storytelling of Japanese pieces.

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Lorenzo is directed by Nonon Padilla with lyrics by Juan Ekis, Paul Dumol, and Joem Antonio, and music by Ryan Cayabyab. It was produced by Christopher De Leon through Green Wings Entertainment Network, Inc. in cooperation with De La Salle-College of St. Benilde School of Design and Arts, Annuale, and Vito Cruz Project.

Photos from Broadway World and Wazzup Pilipinas.