Ifugao weaves, designs hit Paris Fashion Week runway

Marilyn Paed-Rayray, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at Mar 07 2019 04:09 PM | Updated as of Mar 07 2019 06:33 PM

PARIS, France -- Kandama’s Fiesta Filipino collection from Ifugao province hit the Paris Fashion Week runway last March 1. 

Organized by the International Indigenous Fashion Week (IIFW) and held at the Gustave Eiffel Salon at the Eiffel Tower, the show delivers a unique experience blending fashion and music from indigenous artists and designers. The collections include streetwear, eco-friendly fashion, and modern-day indigenous designs. 

Known for being innovative and promoting cultural diversity in the fashion industry, IIFW recognizes the rich culture and history of the participating countries.

Being part of the show marks another milestone for Kandama, a Filipino social enterprise conceived in 2016 and was incubated at Singapore International Foundation’s Young Social Entrepreneurs Program by its founder and CEO Victor Mari C. Baguilat, Jr.

“It was an amazing experience because it’s my first time here in Paris and in Europe, the fashion capital of the world. It’s a great accomplishment and I feel really good. It opened up a lot of ideas from other indigenous designers from different parts of the world. Especially Europe has a lot of ideas and good designs from things that you can see where you can get a lot of inspiration like from the architecture, from the clothes people are wearing in the streets,” said Baguilat.

Photo courtesy of Ann Marie Aase & Froilan Emil Pamintuan

Photo courtesy of Ann Marie Aase & Froilan Emil Pamintuan

Photo courtesy of Ann Marie Aase & Froilan Emil Pamintuan

Photo courtesy of Ann Marie Aase & Froilan Emil Pamintuan

The Fiesta Filipino collection showcased apparel made of handwoven, colorful fabrics with indigenous patterns, cuts and designs, traditional to the Ifugao province. Among the pieces were the ampuyo (wrap-arround skirts), lamma (ethnic-embroidered white top), coats, ternos, dresses, Filipiniana gowns, ponchos, scarves accessories and a lot more. 

Accompanied by loud music and bright lights, the collection stood out as the only Asian pieces in the show. 

Froilan Emil Pamintuan, commercial attaché at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in France, said, “The Philippine Embassy and DTI are always very proud of our resourceful Filipino designers who find ways and means to showcase their artistry and various elements of our culture, in key platforms especially in Paris — the world’s fashion capital.”

According to him, the Eiffel Tower Indigenous Fashion Show was a solid venue for fashion enthusiasts to welcome the new breed of designers representing their respective tribes who wish to share a piece of their identity to the global stage.

DYING CRAFT

Kandama aims to save the dying Ifugao craft of weaving. It has organized the women of Julongan village in Kiangan, Ifugao to start their association of weavers. On top of the livelihood that it provides, Kandama also gives skills training and empowerment workshops, donates looms and builds weaving centers.

“Our weavers, the ones whom we trained and whom we retained until now, when told that their weaves are going international, they’re so happy about it,” Kandama’s community engagement executive Rachel Baguilat said. 

For her, participating in international shows is a way to encourage the weavers to continue their craft and tradition. 

“The Women Weavers Association call themselves,‘lihan dim ipugo’ which means designs of the people of the mountains. Their vision is to become world-class weavers, their designs are world-class products. Kandama is trying to have these women’s vision materialize and we hope that later on we will be able to penetrate the international market for fabrics and modern designs,” she said. 

“We are helping the Ifugao weavers to expand their markets so that they will continue weaving, because we think that if they continue weaving, they have livelihood that translates to empowerment. At the same time, they preserve their culture and protect the environment because it’s an alternative to harmful environmental practices like kaingin. And then eventually, I have to engage in designs because that’s the way for the people to appreciate the weaves,” Baguilat added. 

This is Kandama’s fourth exhibit outside the country. Kandama has exhibited twice at the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival, the biggest fashion event in Australia; and in Hong Kong. 

This Ifugao indigenous fashion collection will also be exhibited in Katutubo Art Couture in Bonifacio Global City and at the University of Santo Tomas. It will hit runway once again in the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival in Australia on March 10.