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Filipino Canadians mount Calgary International Fashion Week amid pandemic

Marjorie Carmona Newman | TFC News Calgary, Canada

Posted at Dec 02 2021 12:07 PM

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After a yearlong hiatus, the much-awaited Calgary International Fashion Week returned, breaking through the Covid-19 blues with pops of colors.

The show, now on its fifth year, was mounted by Filipino Canadians Alvin Masangkay Francia and Limuel Hayag Vilela. Francia says the show's theme 'Behind the Colors' highlights inclusion and diversity.

"This is not just for standard models, but for everyone. We have moms, single women, single fathers, people from every background and culture, so this is a celebration of diversity," Francia notes. "'Behind the Colors' comes from the social issues- from Asian hate, Black Lives Matter. What more can you do but amplify those voices of ours and make spaces. We all have that. We all deserve to shine."

For her part, Vilela says it was 'a proudly Filipino show. Tayong Filipino, we can put together a show not just for the Filipino community but for everyone in Canada (We Filipinos, we can put together a show, not just for the Filipino community, but for everyone in Canada).'

The fashion show opened with a street-style meets high couture collection from the Filipino Canadian designers behind Homomilk Estudyo.

"The inspiration comes from Canadian streetwear, and mixing it with nuances and ideas of Southeast Asia, especially the Philippines, giving it  more of a cultural thing," Zxyro Jdrk of Homomilk Estudyo explains. Designer Maliyah Abenir adds that they have been doing such designs for a long time. "We wanted to combine the streetwear and the couture together and see if it works, and it works," Abenir says.

The event also showcased creations by Olga Sem and Elena Golovi. For Golovi, the fashion industry has not only survived the pandemic, but it has also thrived. "We just moved online a bit," Golovi points out.

The show was capped with a gala fundraiser, and featured the awarding of Miss Grand Canada 2022, Miss Tourism Canada 2021, Miss Teen Personality Canada and Miss Jr. Teen Central Alberta 2021. Part of the show's proceeds benefited nonprofit groups Butil ng Pag-asa in the Philippines, as well as the Calgary Food Bank.