I was born and bred in the tropics that is the Philippines, an archipelago in Southeast Asia that boasts more than 7,000 islands. The sun is typically always high up, and the country’s stunning emerald beaches are ready to welcome anyone to dive in deep. Apart from the warm Philippine weather, numerous places to go on adventures, and its historical influence from the Spaniards, the country’s industry and way of living are somehow held back by its vibrant tradition of religion and folklore legends. Recently, some of these mythical narratives have been put into a cohesive fashion collection. Gabbie Sarenas, a young and budding Filipina designer will be flawlessly “reintroducing” classic Filipino culture through her Spring/Summer 2016 collection named ALAMAT (“Legend”), where old magical stories are turned into handcrafted modern, sophisticated, and wearable pieces.
Cliché: How did the Philippine folklore legends influence the entire collection?
Gabbie Sarenas: I was researching how to introduce the Philippine culture globally and at the same time, re-introduce it locally. I want to “paint a picture” to people and show them who we are as Filipinos. What better way to do it than by having a collection inspired by our Filipino folklore legends? As a designer who leans towards traditional aesthetics, choosing pineapple and local embroidery is the priority for this collection.
Are the legends the sole inspiration of each design?
Yes, each design tells a story about a Filipino folklore character: Malakas at Maganda (origin of the Filipino natives), Tikbalang (a horse-like creature lurking in the far mountains), Sarimanok (a mythical bird), Diwata (a fairy), and Sirena (a mermaid) are in the pineapple fabric cut-outs. In each design, our artisans hand-embroidered each piece with creative Filipino techniques. If you look at each piece up close, you’ll see how it’s meticulously crafted and created carefully. Besides the characters and their elements, we also have the calado technique on each piece to show our ancient skill in embroidery.
The pieces look so contemporary! Was this how you envisioned your Spring/Summer collection?
Yes, definitely! I wanted to show that pineapple fabric, which is known for formalwear, can be worn with a cocktail skirt or jeans. These casual luxe pieces can be worn to meetings, dinner with girlfriends, to the beach, or when you travel. I didn’t want it to look very traditional, so I mixed it with contemporary silhouettes so that it would look modern and fresh enough that a cosmopolitan woman could wear it without fuss.
What are five words that best describes each of the pieces?
Traditional, romantic, opulent, artisan, and contemporary.
Do you think this will be the new trend women all over the world will wear?
I think the trend is that consumers are becoming responsible with their choice of purchases. They want a product with essence—something created with value and made uniquely for them.
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– by Alve Aranton
Gabbie Sarenas SS16 ALAMAT Collection: Photographs courtesy of Gabbie Sarenas