At the 1:02 mark, hold your breath for the wonder that is Tricia Gosingtian. (If you are her/her friend, please know right now that I’m being entirely sarcastic and scrolling down may prove hazardous to your health.)
Not everyone thinks fashion is all that important, which I agree with to some extent. Some people have nothing on their minds except shoes, bags, and labels. (For these people, fashion is just a way to be recognized as someone with means and a style known as “You wish you could afford even one of the things I’m wearing.”) But anyone worth their salt knows that it’s never really about fashion per se. More often than not, what really matters is style.
Designer collections on every spectrum are built on stories of the women they aim to dress — what kind of woman is she, where is she going, what are her sensibilities, how can we grow and move with her. These clothes are built to accommodate our bodies and our needs, while showing the character of its maker. That is the art of beautiful clothing: the interaction between a designer’s original intention and a wearer’s interpretation of the garment.
And here, in the Philippines, we’re so lucky to be surrounded by so much talent in the fashion industry. We don’t just have dress-makers; we have visionaries who know how to make a zipper beautiful, even desirable, or how to make sheer fabric seem effortlessly wearable. Even department store shopping has improved greatly in quality and aesthetic over the last few years, because retailers are coming to appreciate that all people across all income brackets have a clear idea of what is beautiful.
So, the second someone establishes herself as an authority as to who’s “fashion forward” in the entire country, she sets herself up to be judged, and rightly so. Especially when there is a clear apologetic tone like, “Sorry, we’re not exactly Paris, but luckily the nation is being enlightened by my Tumblr as we speak. It’s a good thing Japanese fashion taught me a thing or two about dressing up.” (Newsflash: anywhere you go, you’ll find that not everyone dresses to the nines. Not even in the most fashionable of fashion capitals. I believe they call this “life.”) A statement like that is insulting for anyone who lives in the Philippines and believes that they have their own sense of style.
Likewise, a statement like that disregards our very own, home-grown fashion industry that is booming with such a strong creative pulse. We have a whole industry full of stylists and make-up artists and sewers and designers and cobblers and collectors, who not only create beautiful things, but who make statements with what they put on their back. They put themselves together with diverse wit, and an elegance tailored to the fringes of their personalities: old world, industrial, minimalist, flamboyant, colorful, new school, urban, earthy, vintage, and styles that have yet to be categorized.
But mostly, a statement like that shows ignorance, and not only about what’s going on locally. It betrays a lack of understanding of how fashion is the most common art through which people express themselves. Whether we’re talking a Hanford undershirt or a Rajo Laurel gown, personal style is a constant conversation among those who make the clothes, those who admire the clothes, and those who actually wear them. And it is the personal style of every individual who’s ever put on a garment that allows fashion to keep growing and moving the way it does.
So if being “fashion forward” means I need to wear giant contacts and make ignorant statements implying that I’m the only Filipino who knows anything about fashion (especially thanks to my being inspired by Japanese fashion), I’ll pass. I’d rather be my own third world self, with a larger-than-average body, a love for color, and an understanding of wearable art.