With the fast changing pace of today's life, it's so hard to keep something up but during Dita Sandico Ong's High On Silver Fashion Gala, the 25th year celebration of her career in the fashion industry, Ms. Ong has proven that there are styles that will remain timeless and she does this by bringing us back to our very Filipino roots. To start off the celebration, there was a bazaar with booths that offered Filipino-made all natural products like food, essential oils and handicrafts. There were also booths that sold Ilocos Sur's specialty items like baskets, pots and the very tempting bagnet which calls your name to have a feast.
The day long bazaar feels like a fiesta under a roof. There was a group of boys playing native drums to welcome guests and different colors of cloth hanging on the stages back drop. To give the celebration a majestic ending, a fashion gala was held at night.
A collection of 36 new designs was launched using all-natural materials from banana and pineapple plants which were grown from our very own country. The models were wearing coin-like accessories in the show which for me represented the rich natural resources of the Philippines. Ms. Ong also used indigenous materials like the Mangyan woven cloth in her collection.
The early part of the show presented some black and white collection of ladies' and mens wear. Even though the designs were quite corporate they can be seen infused with a Filipinas touch which can be seen through the banig-like weaves of the designs. There were also bags that were shown with the same concept that matches well with the clothes.
The middle part of the show featured dyed banana fiber cloth which can be wrapped as a shawl or into a tube top dress based on how one wraps it around the body (with another plain fitted tube top or dress underneath the cloth). Ms. Ong has shown her brilliance by turning a regular simple piece of cloth into something versatile in this time of economic challenges happening around the globe. A simple plain tube top or dress can be made extravagant with a different look by just a piece of dyed banana fiber cloth. There was a part of the show where the models took off the dyed banana fiber cloth and exchanged it with one another just to give the audience an idea of what other looks can be created from it. Aside from the creative aspect of having different designs through wrapping the cloth in different ways, there was a sense of timelessness of the design.
The last part of the show had Mr. Jonathan Badon singing the song Ikaw in Ilocano with a lady wearing a white tube top dress adorned with a white banana fiber cloth walking around the catwalk which wowed the audience. The piece of white banana fiber cloth made the simple piece of white tube top dress into a marvelous wedding dress.
It is truly amazing on how our native materials like pineapple fibers, banana fibers and Mangyan woven cloth can make such a magical touch on fashion. These simple materials which we usually see in Balikbayan stores being sold as fans, mats or souvenir decorations can be made into something more practical for our everyday use and can even help us save money.
Text and photos by Dorothy Joy Wong.