Former designer says death of fashion is ‘imminent,’ reveals the industry’s dirty laundry

When the team reached the shores of Madasgascar where he now modestly lives, they found him sitting on a hammock located at the veranda of his humble home in the solitary island off the coast of mainland Africa. He was combing the hair of his four-year-old granddaughter who was wearing a red Hippeastrum over her right ear, it was one of Madagascar’s indigenous flowers. One of the team members waved her hand to say hello, and this father knew the interview scheduled via email weeks ago was about to start. He led the team to a nearby table in the veranda.

It was mid-afternoon in the lone island, the sun shining so bright forming shadows. But the story he shared was sun-kissed – by darkness.

“The death of fashion is imminent,” the 72-year-old former designer who now lives with his two daughters and five grandchildren said. “I don’t see fashion shows, and brands like Alexander McQueen, Prada, Gucci and even Versace being looked up to in the future.”

Choosing to remain anonymous, he himself had a share of fashion experiences before, starting as a sewer in a fashion house in Milan and eventually being able to feature his collections.

“Brands of McQueen, which I admired before, among with many others are not going to last long,” he said. “There is a new generation of buyers who find more value in technology, food, investing and other matters, but not fashion. The patrons of these high fashion brands are nearing their old age. One of my grandchildren, 12 years old, once asked me, ‘Who is Versace, grandpa?’ I just laughed it off, because she was born Italian but cannot even pronounce the brand, and I said, I just made the right decision of leaving the industry as early as I can.”

He further said that fashion shows are now losing their value, and that no matter how designers try to pick up on getting the sales up, “the road is sloping downwards.” When he left Milan almost five years ago, after paying recent visits to places like New York, Hong Kong and San Francisco, he said everything is different, seeing malls choosing to highlight brands for the younger generation more than the high fashion ones.

“I have been to this mall and true enough, there are hallways intended for high fashion brands and usually are almost empty because of being too expensive,” he said. “But now, I felt another kind of the emptiness around the shops. That people don’t recognize them anymore.”

When asked if magazines advertisements do not work to publicize the high fashion brands, he said, “Since I became familiar with Instagram, it’s now difficult.”

‘No value in fashion’

He painted a grim picture of recent fashion shows and described how some of the shows are now being run in derelict houses, old buildings and used warehouses.

“The glamour is losing its grip,” he said. “Because more and more people are now aware of dressing up themselves beautifully without getting inspiration from fashion shows, these shows are now of no value, like an old wooden pony ride now placed in the attic. They now prefer playing the game called Candy Crush.”

He cited the recent Gucci fashion show held in New York, which he found out via Twitter, and said the trademark of the Gucci brand built over the years can still be seen, but said that this is “not what people are looking for.”

“Today, wearing clothes has to be realistic. Gone are the days when we admire fashion because they are filled with fantasy. But have you asked yourself, ‘are we ever gonna see these clothes on the street?’ Never.”

He also answered questions on his thoughts of high fashion reaching the leading economies such as Dubai and China, as Vogue’s Anna Wintour is reported to have her eyes on the Chinese market.

“Value is the important thing here,” he bravely pointed out. “The people in these places are known to have so much disposable income. How much of a burden is to buy a Gucci dress and a pair of high heels? That’s when high fashion becomes a thing that deserves a space at the flea market.”

Fashion’s dirty laundry

This former designer started his clothing line because of his father, who was given a scholarship to study in a prestigious fashion school in New York back in the 1930s. He wanted to continue the family’s tradition in the industry.

“I became a designer mainly because it is a family tradition, my father wanted me to go on and I was also interested in it,” he said. “But the times before are different from now, and so I chose to live a better life.”

There was a long pause and some moments of silence after he said this. By that time, his wife, 70, served some local fish and peanuts on the table. He chewed on a couple of grains before continuing.

“Fashion thrives on sophistication and more often than not, inauthentic class which is far from reality,” he explained. “Prostitution exists in the fashion world. I have witnessed it myself and I hope the world will look into this. My son was 17 when he started modelling and I gave him much independence that I trusted him to know his way. He lived far from where I lived, as he lived much of his life in London. But one day he told me, ‘Papa, I’ve had enough. I also want to begin a family and I don’t think I can make this dream come true if I remain just a model.”

The team saw the former designer shed a tear. His son modeled and became part of photoshoots under famous underwear brands in Europe.

“This was the turning point when I decided I needed to give up this passion,” he said, his voice cracking.

Now, his son lives happily with his wife and their only daughter in a US state.

“One of the reasons why I can see the death of fashion coming is because the dreams made by high fashion are now coming alive, and when they do, that’s when the essence of fashion stops,” he said. “Many of my dreams have now come to reality, which gives me no reason to create more designs from fabric mostly sewn by those we treat as slaves. I hope the world wakes up with me. And I am happy to finally retire to a place where beauty is not skin-deep. And I love seeing my granddaughter wear something from H&M.”

Minnesota’s favorite brand Penguin breaks the winter ice and snow

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If a 100-year-old underwear factory in Minnesota seems an unconventional starting point for a fashion icon that has represented Americana since 1955 and is still worn all over the world today, blame Pete the Penguin. And perhaps a whiskey or two.

Abbot Pederson was an ambitious salesman who worked for the Munsingwear undergarment factory in Minneapolis. On a sales trip to NYC in 1955, finding himself with some time to kill before a flight home, he decided to wait out his time in a local bar. Stumbling out to find a taxi stand, he took a wrong turn down a Manhattan street and found himself in front of a display of stuffed penguins in a taxidermist’s window. Before he knew it, he had bought one of the penguins, named him Pete, and was soon enjoying cocktails with him on the flight back to Minneapolis.

At some point during the flight, Pederson’s enthusiasm got the better of him — and Pete the Penguin’s head was knocked off. A seductive stewardess whose attention Pederson had been enjoying throughout the flight gently helped him remove his tie, then wrapped it around the penguin’s neck. As she did so, she joked that such a lucky, dapper bird surely deserved to be immortalized — maybe even embroidered on a shirt similar to the one Pederson was wearing. Little did she know…

On his return to Minneapolis, Pederson, a keen golfer, wasted no time tallying his interests. And so the Munsingwear golf shirt was born. Even in 1955 it was ahead of its time. Casual, comfortable, equally at home on the 18th hole or the 19th hole. From the moment it hit the shelves it was a must-have, popular with suburbanites and sports legends alike. Known today as “the 55,” it represented not only a relaxed and sophisticated lifestyle but was to become the cornerstone of an entire fashion movement.

From this point on, the penguin’s flight was onward and upward. (And you thought penguins didn’t fly…) Pete’s profile became instantly synonymous with the era’s most iconic — and talked about — celebrities: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Arnold Palmer, Clint Eastwood and Richard Nixon, to name a few. Original Penguin had become a true American classic.

As a testament to the timeless appeal of the Original Penguin clothing company’s classic designs, the shirts catapulted back into fashion starting in 2000, when young trendsetters started scouring yard sales and demanding their favorite vintage stores restock the cult classics. In 2003, this overwhelming new audience led to the rebirth of an Original Penguin by Munsingwear, and an alliance with an international fashion house. Penguin’s archive of mid-century classics was reworked to reflect today’s lifestyle without compromising the heritage or craftsmanship that had made Penguin’s name.

Today, with Original Penguin stores dotting the globe and sold at exclusive luxury retailers, Pete is back — bigger and better than ever, presiding over a full lifestyle brand that now includes suits, watches, bags, belts, hats, shoes, and women’s and kids’ collections.

See for yourself. Original Penguin men’s clothing continues to exude a blend of confidence and relaxation. Penguin golf shirtsand men’s polo shirts are just as iconic as they were when Pederson designed the first one. They easily pair with Original Penguin pants and jeans to create a look worthy of the great ones.

Original Penguin continues to develop landmark clothing for women and kids, too. Our collection of Original Penguin women’s clothing is chic, cozy, sassy and nonchalant all at once. Peruse the tops, skirts, jackets and dresses that define an Original Penguin gal. And don’t forget the kids. Keep your boys looking hip and clean in designer children’s clothing.

But Original Penguin is more than just clothes today. We have a complete accessories shop to help you round out your look. Pete is now the proud purveyor of bags, hats, wallets, shoes, belts, ties and watches. All in all, not bad for a stuffed penguin.

Wear your team, the fashion soccer is also on in Brazil

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If the fashion sense of Cariocas seems so casual for you, we’ve got more styling tips as you walk the streets of Brazil. With over a million fans attending the World Cup, it will always be difficult to move on from every match happening in the stadium. Whether you are an avid fan or merely a supporter of football, you can never escape the football fever especially that the games are held in the world’s soccer capital.

So go with the cruise and style yourself still sticking to your home country team even after the matches. Color code your outfits with the country you are betting to win when you go out to dine in Rio’s classic restaurants, when you grab a beer in the city’s alehouses, when you go shopping for more fashion finds, or simply strolling around the beautiful city.

Yes, what you wear at night after the matches still reflects the country you are supporting. It’ll help you find your ‘allies’ among the massive world population in the area, or perhaps help you win more friends by discussing about the game after a day of soccer matches. Just don’t forget to pay your food bills.

“Let your clothes do the supporting for you,” UK’s Express reporter Antonia Krakowski said in her article.

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Are you a Brazilian native whose nationalism and egoism pierce through your clothes? Or are you a foreigner who visited the country because you love how the Brazilians play the game? Winning is also about wearing.

For supporters of the national team, go out with style with a yellow River Island top and royal blue skirt from Zara all at US$ 60. Heat them up with a feathered necklace you can buy are bargain prices in Rio, an Ursula Mascaro heels and an Ice Watch for a total of US$ 590. Ready to hit the bars?

Cameroon

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Cameroon’s soccer team is another tough cookie to beat.  They may be underdogs in FIFA histoy, but who knows, your fashion might get them to action.

Try this: a nice printed top with embellished neckline from Topshop at US$ 64, a pencil skirt from Linea at House of Fraser at US$ 117, and a pair of heels from River Island for US$ 84. Simple but wild, perfect for Cameroon. Give them that roar!

Italy

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With four world titles to their name two runners-up slots, Italy lie second only to Brazil on the all-time FIFA World Cup honours board. You know what to do. Take your Italian inspired fashion to the next level and see a repeat on finals night. “See you at the finals,” is what you’ll tell to your Brazilian amigos.

Wear a blue crop top and a pencil skirt from Oasis. This simple because Italy is a center for fashion, this alone makes a statement.

England

With many English football players making big names in the fashion industry such as David Beckham, being fashionably English at the World Cup arena that is Rio may be too intimidating. Let’s trim it down a bit. Plain is beautiful, remember.

We style British ladies in Brazil with a one-piece white dress from Topshop for only US$ 70, a petal earrings from Dorothy Perkins and an Ice watch.

Argentina

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For Argentinian fans out there, we give you colors that match the Argentinian flag, reflecting the strong nature of the Argentinian people.

Try on this vertical striped shirt from Topshop and a white skirt from Next. Let’s see if they cannot identify you as a supporter of the team.

Chile

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Chile is one of Brazil’s greatest soccer opponents and possibly, to make friends with the locals is to be stylish during the night, because morning’s going to be a lot different once again. Bring on a red shirt from Mango for US$ 57 paired with a sky blue pleated skirt from Topshop at US$ 60. Try on American Apparel socks at US$18, suede heels from Asos at US$ 126.

Spain

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And finally, we’ve got fashion tips for the ever-strong Spanish fans, who can be the greatest threat and cause of Brazil’s downfall again in the World Cup after several decades.

One piece dress from Oasis, a pair of socks with white stripes from American Apparel, and a medallion necklace from Wallis shall complete the Spanish aura.

Now that you are more than ready to meet with your amigos and amigas before getting to bed at night, or now, the only point of argument will be what beers and alcohols to drink. We don’t think the dress won’t work with that. They’re statement pieces, that it.

For more information about the items, visit the online portals of the brands.

How to street style at the World Cup — the Carioca way!

When in Rome, they say, do as Romans do. When in Brazil, dress up as the Brazilians dress up.

With the season of the 2014 World Cup in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil already in full bloom, millions of tourists and soccer fans from all over the world are visiting the host country to see the games in live action. It is indeed a melting pot of different global cultures and understanding each in a one month span may be a farfetched dream – but not for fashion and style.

The 2014 FIFA World Cup speaks of the slogan, ‘All in One Rhythm.’ They meant the games, the cheers, and the passion for the sport of course. But to be in sync and tune with the Brazilians in terms of how they see themselves with what they wear is also a gratifying experience while you are in the World Cup. Style and sports always go together.

Waking up in the morning before heading to the stadium is easy. Deciding what to wear at the venue is easier said than done. As you head off to Rio, pack your luggage with these important fashion and styling tips while you are in Brazil.

People who are born in Rio call themselves ‘Cariocas.’ They act different from the rest of the Brazilians, as much as they dress. One of the reasons the World Cup is held this June to July is because of the summer season in Brazil. So if you are thinking of bringing your aviator coats or your thick-skinned scarves in your luggage, you are only wasting space.

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The Carioca style is pretty effortless and easy to understand. Come on, Rio is not a fashion hot spot unlike Milan or New York.

For women, dressing up like the Cariocas includes light fabrics, prints, and a lot of colours on geometric patterns on the dresses. Start by pairing plain-coloured tank tops accessorized by native Brazilian neck pieces you can purchase on the Rio streets to Maxi skirts laden with prints and colours. Carioca style tip number one.

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Dress simply and walk graciously, this is the Carioca fashion trademark. Another Carioca style for women is a plain, neon-coloured knitted top, again with a neckpiece paired with faded, ruggedly cut denim mini-shorts. Then pucker up with sunglasses and you are ready to go the stadium.

Expensive  jewelry are better left at the hotel. Don’t call attention to yourself. Millions of foreigners live in Rio, but they know how to dress so as not to call attention to themselves.

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For shoes, a nice and simple pwalking or sports shoes like top-siders, espadrilles, or flip-flops are goof to go. If you have a choice between your brand new $150 Nikes and your older and more comfortable $50 cross trainers, choose the latter.

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In Rio, people dress as casual as possible, but it depends on what you are planning to do at night. An informal dinner calls for smart casual. Going out for a beer at the bars, dress plain casual. Going out to night clubs or dancing  requires to be a  little more dressy. It is fine to pack a sport coat, slacks, and dress shoes if you plan to hit some of the upscale night spots or restaurants.

For men, avoid carrying bags. Bring only essentials. Just bring enough to consume. Avoid bringing handbags on your trips to Rio. If you need it, buy it there.

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Another tip is not to wear clothes with your country’s  flags, too  flashy t-shirts and exclusive expensive tennis shoes, unless you intend to wear them indoors, like at an expensive hotel or resort.  Keep it simple.

Speedos are also part of the scene. Though not common in many European countries and the US, they are totally suitable for Rio’s tropical climate. Buy them there. They are inexpensive and you cannot get it wrong.  Male cariocas tanned bodies show how fit one can be in the right proportions.

With or without success in the Brazilian fashion sense, to be a Carioca is to enjoy life each day, and to be with family and friends. Enjoy watching the World Cup!

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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 stand of fashion once, and for all

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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Suerte, buenas: Getting lucky is a lot more easier

My Sunday morning is met with drizzles of rain and I thought, maybe it’s time for the Philippine fashion world to create pieces for this months-long season. Some countries have the Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer fashion shows. My mantra has always been creating your own masterpiece, entirely your own. It’s almost time to create a show for the second season. Call it the rainy fashion show (not good), or the wet fashion show (not good too), or the Monsoon Fashion Show™. Let’s be the first to create it. It will be nice when the Philippines is able to hold the first Monsoon Fashion Show among all countries with only two seasons, right? Let’s take everything in a faster pace.

The Philippine Fashion Week takes their names from the international fashion shows, but hey, the international fashion shows are working depending on their country’s physical makeup. Isn’t it weird and hilarious to attend a Philippine Fashion Week named as Spring/Summer when most of the pieces are couture intended for and based from the international market. It would have been good if they were based from the same cluster of nations having the same weather. Fashion is intended for wearing, not for sharing. A Philippine Fashion Week Summer™ and Philippine Fashion Week Monsoon™ are two perfect names for the country. Take it or leave it, just credit this blogger. 

Do I say we focus on recreating our national costumes and basing everything from there? Probably. Umbrellas, cap umbrellas, hats, you get it.

With my PETA mentor, Leloi Arcete
With my PETA mentor, Leloi Arcete

Today we celebrate the birthday of my grandpapa, Reynaldo Celestial, whose father was a fashion designer then in the early 1900s. Yes, you got it, he witnessed the peak of fashion especially when he visited New York. My grandfather Reynaldo was his brother’s assistant (the fashion designer) who runs the atelier. They were usually dressing the important people in our church, so their creations were mostly coats, ties, pants, and Philippine ternos.

With my PETA officemates
With my PETA officemates. When one day, we decided to take photos of our fashion

Now, the business still runs but with a small shop in the Makati area. I usually get my Barongs sewn there, as well as batik-colored Barongs, and the gown in my sister’s debut. Being an senior designer, I usually give my designer lolo (not the birthday lolo) my design pegs, which are mostly youth-oriented and have it sewn by him. The results are quite amazing.

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Reynaldo Celestial is born of Spanish-Chinese descent. He was actually my academic savior, interviewing him and his wife, Luz, when my history teacher asked us to get personal interviews with people who witnessed the World War, and the stories are quite inspiring. During my Creative Writing class in college, my lolo and lola’s love story were my inspiration, crafting a poem out of it.

Mitch Go, PETA accountant
Mitch Go, PETA account manager

What I like about my office mates, on the side note, is being fashionista in their own sense. Buying it from thrift shops, I don’t care as long as they look glamorous on them. The prints are amazing. For a man like me, wearing prints is awkward so I satisfy my craving to just looking at them.

One senior member of PETA, on a dinner in a Persian place, before the critics’ night, told me that I should be her stylist because of how I commented on her fashion that night. It was a single-flowing dress with multi-colored, mostly warm, prints. But her earrings did not complement, so I said it. She said she is not an accessories person so that explains it. She took my advise and now I am her personal stylist whenever she comes to the office!

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Joyce, as she is. Hippie.
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It’s all about matching.

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What’s wrong with being born on an August? The monsoon becomes your “playmate,” and your both a virgin and a wild lion. But August is also the month of Philippine heroes and the month of sweetness. Feliz cumpleanos, Lolo Rey! We will always love you!

On me: Cardigan from Penshoppe, navy blue striped shirt from 101 New York, khaki shorts from People Are People, shoes from Bradford. Location: Whitespace Manila