Modern Barongs And Bridal Take New Yorkers To Church During Fashion Week
The huge stone pillars, high domed ceiling, stained glass windows, and the sacred altar down the center of the aisle made Landmark on the Park the perfect, hallowed space for a designer Filipino bridal runway. Renowned couturiers Albert Andrada and Barge Ramos made their New York Fashion Week: Bridal debut at the historical Manhattan venue with their show “Fabulous Philippines: A Perfect Wedding Destination” last April 13, and both showed garments that married bold modern design choices with Filipino culture and Catholic tradition.
Ramos, who is known for his modern interpretations of the Philippine Barong Tagalog, opened the show. His line was inspired specifically by his favorite prayer, a poem by St. Teresa of Avila called “Nada te turbe” or “Let Nothing Disturb You.” The original Spanish version of the poem, in St. Teresa’s own handwriting, was embroidered and hand-painted on many of the barongs, trousers, and dresses.
“It’s a very personal collection. I named it ‘Perfume and Incense,’” Ramos said. “I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time now, and finally I was able to.” His pieces were made of quality Philippine indigenous fabrics like the traditional piña, the Ilocano inabel (woven) fabric, handwoven silk, jusi, and a mix of abaca, bamboo, and piña.
The whole collection leaned more towards a more masculine feel, sticking to structured and straightforward silhouettes. The models who wore the outfits were also accessorized with rosaries, and huge chunky pieces that allude to the imagery of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Ultimately, Ramos imagines the couple who would wear his pieces to be a “contemporary couple, not conservative, non-traditional.”
Meanwhile, Andrada—whose designs have been worn by Arab royals, Paris Hilton, and Pia Wurtzbach—crafted his collection with more feminine fabrics, colors, and shapes. The most interesting and playful design concept he executed was that of the lace shirt for men, worn under blazers with a silky shine, and accessorized with shawls you typically see worn with Filipiñanas.
Andrada said, “My inspiration is San Sebastian Church, because it’s a Spanish-Filipino theme. So I opted for laces, Spanish veils, and laces for men.” The designer is also assisting in the restoration of the church, which has historic and cultural significance as the only steel church in the world, and the very first all-steel structure in Asia.
His show-stopping designs for women were embellished with delicate beadwork, and luxuriously grand silhouettes. And of course the golden crowns worn by the models only emphasized that these clothes are, indeed, worthy of royalty. And all this is just a preview for his upcoming gala in November.
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Over all, Ramos and Andrada were able to translate the best of Filipino bridal design into their respective collections in very contrasting ways. Their show went beyond showing the Philippines as a perfect wedding destination because of its white sand beaches. It showed the rich culture behind, and the Spanish influence weaved into Filipino weddings.