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Lulu Tan-Gan: “I Would Like to Encourage the Revival of Traditional Crafts”



There was no runway, no models getting dressed up hurriedly, and no front row seats for VIPs. In place of this glamorous setting is a sprawling garden amidst a busy mall; this is the extraordinary venue of an equally extraordinary fashion and art showcase. It's art appreciation for everyone.

The meticulously crafted masterpieces of knit, crochet, and weave works take on the spotlight as they are wrapped exquisitely around trees, lampposts, and rocks.

The spectators—in this case, casual mall-goers—find themselves in awe of seeing an unexpected yet welcome reinterpretation of such traditional forms of artistry and craftsmanship through a new medium.

The show, a special art installation at Ayala Malls’ Greenbelt Garden in Makati, is called the “Yarn Bomb Knit Bomb.”   

And behind this impressive exhibit is the “Queen of Knitwear,” Lulu Tan-Gan.


A New Purpose

“I’m the type who is always open to new opportunities,” Lulu says. With that, the novelty of the “Yarn Bomb Knit Bomb” exhibit idea easily appealed to her. She welcomed the challenge of dressing up the Greenbelt Garden, excited about having “a new purpose” for what she has been doing for over three decades now.

Lulu is a fashion designer well known for her iconic knitwear that was later integrated with native fabrics like piña and silk. Her advocacy of pushing for Philippine artisan craft and indigenous textile materials is particularly remarkable and compelling, so much so that her name has become synonymous to knitting and weaving. With her impeccably sophisticated and contemporary take on traditional wear, she has given birth to what is known as “Indigenous Couture.”   

“Yarn has always been my medium,” she says. And she couldn’t be any happier to have the opportunity to “revive, repurpose, and innovate traditional knitting, weaving, and crochet” while providing a bridge of sorts “to connect traditions and the present.” With this underlying concept, the “retro-galactic” theme of the exhibit was perfectly apt.  Lulu collaborated with students from the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, wherein she serves as the Fashion Design and Merchandising Program’s chairperson emeritus, and got participation from crowdsourced crochet hobbyists.

For this exhibit, the conceptualization and location assessment took Lulu about six to eight months to process. Three months were devoted to weaving. And finally, it took her team one month to install everything. All those months were well worth it.

Through this exhibit, Lulu shared with Metro.Style the message she wishes to convey: “I would like to encourage the revival of traditional crafts…I would like to create awareness and come up with more relevant ideas.”


Beyond the Walls of a Museum

The “Yarn Bomb Knit Bomb” exhibit is part of the initiative of Ayala Malls and Ayala Museum called “G.A.M.E. = the Greenbelt + Ayala Museum Experience.” G.A.M.E. has been around for quite some time now, but their collaboration with Lulu is the first of its kind.

“Through this exciting exhibit, Ayala Museum and Ayala Malls redefine the museum experience, bringing art outside of the gallery and to the outdoors,” says Mariles Gustilo, Ayala Museum’s Senior Director.

Joseph Reyes, Ayala Mall Group’s Assistant Vice President and Area Head of Central Manila, said this project is just the beginning of more exciting things to come from the initiative to enhance the mall-going experience. Greenbelt is home to a handful of local designers’ boutique, like Lulu’s, so collaborations with them are being explored. “We’re in the same family, same location, so why not collaborate?,” Joseph quips.

Now, it would be great to see another local designer take on a whole new design challenge through inspiring art.




“Yarn Bomb Knit Bomb” runs from November 8 to January 14, 2018.


Photographs courtesy of Ayala Malls and Ayala Museum and from (thumbnail)