Manila in the fabric of fashion

There really are endless ways to play around with fashion — and for brands, local and international, that have established their presence in popular culture, the challenge is how to stay relevant.

This style-watcher has been having a fiesta with creativity and innovation lately. From the artisans at Artefino, to bright ideas from our own Asian Innovation Forum, the second of which was held last 29 August at Bellevue Manila, I have been inspired again and again by how individuals can pull off an idea and bring it to life.

(FROM left) Manila City Mayor Honey Lacuna, Plains & Prints founder Roxanne Farillas, Anne Curtis and DoT Secretary Christina Frasco.

Last Monday, the second of two events I attended was a creative — and up-to-the-minute — collaboration among a fashion brand, a lensman and local government.

The capital city, Manila, has been immortalized in this latest collection from Plains and Prints, a homegrown brand founded by Roxanne Farillas.

“There’s so much history, heritage and culture that you could actually show and remind people how important Manila is,” Farillas said in her opening remarks at the preview show held at the National Museum of Natural History.

ANNE Curtis in Quintin CS Top and Arroceros Pants from MET.

“With this campaign that we’re doing, it will actually create interest again for them to explore Manila and to understand the beauty, the culture and the heritage. Manila being our capital, I think it’s just right that people, especially the younger generation, would understand and see Manila in a different perspective.”

Arroceros sleeveless dress and pants.

Photographer Mark Nicdao was tasked to take his vision of Manila landmarks to print — and with the support of local agencies, the project saw fruition after many months, culminating in a showcase of heritage one can wear with pride, just in time for Tourism Month.

“More than just making a collection, we want to make a difference,” Farillas added.

Serano longsleeve top and Quintin pants (left) and Paco sleeveless dress (right).

She shared how she came up with the idea in the first place. A conversation she had with a couple she met from Portugal who stayed in the Philippines for two weeks made her think about promoting Manila this way. “So, I was chatting with them and I was asking, ‘Oh, how was your trip? Where did you go?’ And they said, ‘We went to the beaches: El Nido, Boracay, Cebu.’ They didn’t mention Manila, because the minute they landed, they flew to the islands already. It made me think that people just really come here, just land in Manila, and take their transfers and go somewhere else,” she shares. “So, it’s not really top of mind. Now, we’re hoping that through this collaboration, this campaign, our balikbayans and other cultures can explore Manila and stay in the city longer.”

Boni quarter sleeve top and Adriatico shorts.

As for Nicdao, “I think it’s great that Plains & Prints had this idea, because it also stretches our awareness, things that we don’t see when we’re around Manila. You can see it, you can wear it. It’s beautiful, it’s elegant.”

BonI sleeveless top, Manila skirt and canvas bag.

Nicdao captured Paco Park, Rizal Park, Metropolitan Theater, Clock Tower, Intramuros and the National Museum. “My favorite experience shooting the whole thing is really walking around. Exploring those places up close, trying to find something distinct to that location was really exciting. Walking around Manila and really seeing the sites and imagining them on the clothes was pretty amazing and unforgettable,” said Nicdao, who was out of the country for a major project at the time of the launch.

Juan Luna playsuit.

Coming together with the National Parks Development Committee, National Commission For Culture And Arts, Department of Tourism, Culture and Arts of Manila, Intramuros Administration and National Museum, Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna said this would be the first fashion brand collaboration of the city.

Claro sleeveless top and Abad skirt.

Celebrity Anne Curtis opened the fashion show with an ensemble that highlighted Plains and Prints’ design aesthetic.

“I think these are staple pieces that you should have in your archive,” Anne said. She loves the Quintin and Adriatico pieces for their unique “Maria Clara and barong vibe.”