Category: 212.453 Studio

Review Form: Virtual Fashion Show with #RajoRunwayOnline

Creative Exposition Update (02/08/20): This review was first written on May 20, 2020 after taking part on this online fashion show that took place during the enhanced community quarantine in the Philippines (at a time when New Zealand was on level 4 quarantine). I chose to include this writing in this sampler after knowing more about the review from in class. I revisited the writing and decided to rewatch the show and fully engage in it. There are simple changes that I believe helped enhance the writing of this review in such a way that it flows better.

Last night, for the first time in years, I went on Facebook awaiting a very exciting new experience for the Philippine fashion industry. Rajo Laurel, one of the Philippines’ biggest fashion designers staged his first online fashion show. I was there waiting in anticipation on the same Facebook page the Philippines elites and celebrities he dressed were also viewing. This digital stage equalized people. Well, somehow. Until you look at the stories in their individual social accounts and you see the Zoom after party held after the live streaming of the show and you’re still not invited. Okay, about 1k plus, plus of us.

Nonetheless, it felt like, for the first time, I sat front row at probably a fashion shows I would have never seen if it was live and in person. A fashion show I can rewatch over and over again. Now, as a fashion design student at the time of Covid-19, we plan our collections day-by-day, questioning what the next few months will present. Normally, at this time, so close to the end of the first semester, we’d be thinking about the final year fashion show. Yet we’re continually faced with I-don’t-knows and still-waiting-for-University-decisions before we can lockdown on any idea.

Of course, the majority of the class would rather have a physical fashion show in a room clad with family members, friends, and industry people, plus, models, students, and University staff volunteers. I mean, when would we ever have a chance to do it. It could possibly be our once in a lifetime experience. Who knows if our future involves fashion shows. However, as the rumors circulate (okay, maybe not rumors but a possible option, just in case) that a virtual fashion show is in our fourth-year future, we wonder, how is it possible? I am always up for the challenge of something new, especially if it involves the digital world. But even I wonder, how?

This year, Shanghai staged its fashion week virtually. Unfortunately, Shanghai Fashion Week online had finished before I even knew it was a thing. I only heard about it during a webinar on the Future of Fashion Show via Vogue  Global Conversation early this month. The idea of a virtual fashion show caught my interest. The conversation, on the other hand, felt somewhat adamant about the change of show space. Or at least, not fully willing to let go of the old. Fashion, as always, is open to the possibilities of change. While there is a common agreement amongst the speakers that a stimulating experience in being part of the community of the brand is still important (and simply nice to have), the possibility and the chance to do something online is not looked down upon, and even inviting. One speaker noticed that having access to the shows online brought in thousands more viewers compared to the 600 invited and ticketed guests in the physical show, allowing for a wider range of customers.

So last night, Rajo Laurel celebrated his birthday with a first in Philippine fashion industry. Together with Saga Events, they revolutionized the industry by staging a virtual show amongst the community quarantine the country is still experiencing. It showed a new collection from the fashion designer where unlike a recorded version of a fashion show, it was shot as if the viewer is right there sat front row. Except with different backgrounds.

I expected a show filmed live as it was literally happening. Alas, videos of pre-recorded model walks were pieced together, projected online live from the events team’s Facebook page. The show aired at 6 pm (10 pm NZ time) in the tropics where the sun sets at 5 pm all year round, but the models were walking outside under the blazing sun as though it was 12 noon. The opening remarks were live, however. It was the part of the show that I least enjoyed as it was the entirety of the one hour event. It was, nonetheless, the bit of the live show that made it feel it was really happening live. Fast forward to the actual fashion show, compared to the opening bit, it happened in a snap, almost literally. Especially after a brief blip on the connection, which caused me to miss a good chunk of the show’s beginning where most of the individual garments were shown. With a triple split-screen effect at the end, it was difficult to catch up on the missed looks. However, it did make for an exciting virtual show. 

Now I realize what stimulating, inspiring experience that is missing online. While it gave me a sort of feeling of being on front row seat, it however still lacked that packed presence of over-dressed people, alcoholic beverage in hand while feeling the atmosphere of being in with a like-minded crowd. Not that bumping into people who you do not know is stimulating and inspiring. But for a student, it gives a sense of excitement for the future. I must say though, I appreciate seeing the clothes more up close than when I could barely see the models walk amidst heads and shadows of those with a better view. In this way, everyone sees exactly the same view.

I don’t know if a live recording of a model walking an empty catwalk is ever possible, but having the possibility of showing a new collection online is somewhat interesting, exciting, and cool, too. Especially when one can barely afford a ticket to a show, let alone a plane ticket to physically see a show. The pieced pre-recorded videos are forgivable given the situation in the country, and, even became a plus as it made for a smooth flowing show and allowed for a show to be produced in just two weeks. And I appreciate that I can revisit the show online and feel the same experience of being there when it went live.

Just like in the Vogue Global Conversations, there is room for both physical and virtual shows in the future. Then maybe the future is not to plan for showing online but to visualize, plan and design a show that both in-person guests and online viewers can appreciate at the same time.

Featured image by Chalo Garcia on Unsplash

Fashion Film Inspiration

One of the end results of this project is a fashion film, regardless if I show at a catwalk or an exhibit. This is in collaboration with my film artist friend, Regine Panlilio. Most of my latest works and blogs are in collaboration with her and it’s just fitting that I finish my degree with another collaborative work with her.

The idea of a fashion film is to tell the story behind the concept of the collection. As much as the catwalk will show the movement of the fabric and an exhibit can allow the audience to look closer at the workmanship, part of the reason I wanted to do a film is to spread the message outside of New Zealand. Not only do I want to voice out the Filipinos to the rest of the world, but the Filipinos need to know our colonial story and that America does not have our best interest. There’s so much a film can do that neither an exhibit and catwalk can portray, that would reach a larger group of people.

These are some of the fashion films I’m quite inspired by. However, most of the direction will be Regine’s ideas as she is more confident and knowledgeable behind the camera and storytelling through frames.

Making the frame

The weaving technique, just like any weaving techniques, will need a loom. Thankfully, the loom required for this project won’t be too intensive and only needs a few supplies. For a sample frame, I used a simple picture frame bought at a thrift shop and nails. But perhaps, I will have to make my own frame, custom sized to what I need it to be once the patterns are drafted.

Fabrics to Use

Main Fabric

There isn’t much choice of fabrics I needed for this project. The main reason is that the fabric, for the most part, will be woven and made by hand using old clothes. I have with me a full bag and a box of old clothes ready to be used as this is often how this rag weaving is often done. If not old clothes, the leftover fabric is used. I have here pictured the general idea of what the fabric will look like. However, the color won’t be exactly the same as what is pictured as it depends on what is made available. The majority of it will be black and white, and mostly red is the main color. But it will be blended with what’s available.

Second Main Fabric

The second main fabric is what the layering dress and first look will be made of. While this is designed with the piña fabric in mind, my sources are very limited. Piña fabric is made out of pineapple leave fibers that are extracted and woven to a fine silk-linen-organza-like luxurious fabric. It is native to the Philippines and to this day is still made by hand, thus a very expensive fabric to obtain. I went to the Philippines early last year in search of a cheaper, but true piña fabric (or even a blend with banana or cotton) but being mainly in the city during my stay, it was not an easy find. Finding it in the city also meant it was either pre-cut to be custom made into a barong Tagalog, which is already expensive, or a synthetic alternative, which, even that was hard to find. I went home empty-handed, unfortunately, and with the global pandemic and the Philippines still rising in COVID-cases, shipping is extremely expensive and very slow. I did not want to risk it in such a time crunch. Instead, I opt for what is locally and easily available that is, somewhat, close. I found a silk-linen blend available at The Fabric Store, which has the sheen and the natural feel, but it lacks stiffness and transparency that is unique to pineapple. It will, however, represent the design.

This is what piña looks like:

Triangle shape on details and shapes

This is the part of the design process where I reminded myself if the design principles and elements. I looked at silhouette, shape and space mostly for this part as it what best show the triangular shape. It provided winning ideas that represent the collection I believe.

Draped Sketches

Collaging wasn’t my strongest forte. However, in a project as such where sketching the fabric isn’t easy, collage is the best option. These are some of the sketches I made using the photos of the drapes I used in the draping stage of the process. I copied, twisted, flipped, and resized the image and sketched over it to see how I can find new ways to use the fabric.

Pinoy Inspiration for Tatsulok

Pinoy is a colloquial term for Filipinos, the people and culture of the Philippines, which is the main focus of this project. Specifically what it means to be a Filipino after colonization. The separation of social classes emphasizes the enduring effects of colonialism and therefore has great influence on this project as well. Here are some of what Philippines looks like in my perspective.

Draping Ideas on Mannequin

After a few sketches to get my ideas out of my head, I needed to see how the fabric behaves when it’s on the body. Gladly I found two rags brought with us from the Philippines that I could use to do some draping. Unlike my previous experience in draping, pleating isn’t as easy with quite a thick fabric. However, it wins on volume, so I knew I had to utilize that. It wasn’t easy when I don’t have a large enough fabric to make initial draping ideas. Even more challenging is I’m working with a fixed length and width that I can not cut. So here are some of the first results on my draping attempt

Initial Sketches for my Tatsulok Collection

This was the starting point of my design sketches for the Tatsulok project. While sketching is not my strongest skill, it was however the best way to convey the triangular shape I was hoping to portray in this collection. Draping would come as a next step to see how the fabric behaves (more on the draping process on the next post).

Draft 1. Designed for Tatsulok Collection

Tought Process

These first few sketches were designed with the commerciality aspect in mind. The targetted market was a more eclectic group of people, unafraid to try different things. Volume is a plus as the fabric can be stiff and thick. It is juxtaposed with a lightweight cotton, linen or silk-linen blend white fabric for a shirt dress underneath layers.

Layers are a Filipino fashion feature, especially in the past and I wanted to play with that feature in. these sketches

The designs below were designed with the idea of reversing the oversize trend to a cropped or smaller design idea. Continuing with playing the triangular shapes, I show it in different aspects of this initial design.

Draft 2. Designed for Tatsulok Collection

Learning the String Rag Weaving Technique

One of the ideas I wanted to play with for this project is to make a garment based off of rug weaving technique very common in the Philippines. This is what families usually do to clothes that has lost its wearability.