May 2, 2004  (STAR) SHOPSIFTED By Ana G. Kalaw  -  I am an avowed fan of new designers. I love how they work their fabric, juxtaposing fluid fabric with heavier, richer material, how they come with cuts that work even with an evident defiance of the rules of geometry, how they completely ignore the color wheel and come up with the most fearless and astounding color combinations. I admire their courage in incessantly exploring their art, hoping to revolutionize wearability and promote convention as an option rather a rule.

I expected to see all this at the recent Fashion Week’s New Generation Collection. Sponsored by Sony Ericsson, which was promoting the K700, their new techie-chic camera phone, the New Generation collection presented a runway roster of Philippine haute couture’s emerging design mavericks – 12 men and women far from being considered fashion rookies but still relatively new when compared to the industry greats. Alex Pigao, Jontie Martinez, Carlo Jequinto, Len Nepumoceno-Guiao, Dennis Martin, Roland Trio, Dong Omaga-Diaz, Ronaldo Arnaldo, John Abul, Tina Daniac, Jon Espeleta, and Tippi Ocampo are all destined for the spotlight – some of them have already had their chance at it having joined and won the Fashion Design Council of the Philippine’s annual design competition – barring a sudden strike on fashion’s constant need for inventiveness and progression.

I expected to be entertained, to have my curiosity piqued, to be wowed at this New Generation showing. I ended up expecting more. There were a few hits, some misses, but "OK" seems to be the show’s most exacting review. Blah fabric, the usual asymmetric cuts, and lackluster draping pervaded the show hailed as progressive. I didn’t quite feel the Fashion Week vibe.

The designers who seemed to have the most fun with creating for Fashion Week were Tina Daniac, Alex Pigao, and Rolando Lirio. Tina’s renowned proclivity for the ‘80s was evident in the miniskirts, blinding fluorescent tights, effusive shirring, colored pumps, and punky wigs. She combined these elements with swathes of Oriental fabric and ribbon trails to give a feel of a geisha dorm after having been exposed to too much Tina Turner.

Rolando Lirio glorified the superheroine, showing bustiers, cuffs, a shower of stars, boots, and a penchant for red, white and blue. One go gives Wonder Woman a makeover with a white suit, big hair, and silver accessories (the lasso included). Rolando expertly mixes sexy with wit, swinging the superhero as the stylish woman of the 21st century.

Alex Pigao deconstructs denim even more, incorporating it into a wedding gown in one design and pairing it with a fabulous, polka-dotted coral skirt that trailed in voluminous folds in the back.

Color was big for this show with Len Guiao, Jon Espeleta, and Dennis Martin, taking advantage of fruity-inspired summery colors of lime, lemon, melon, orange, and peach. But these were still not enough to transform interesting into riveting.

Ronaldo Arnaldo was brave enough to send out an all-black cavalcade. High collars and sleek silhouettes were embellished with shirring, ribbons, and satin. Though one can’t help feeling a sense of deja vu ("I’ve seen this on the international runways before"), the fluidity of Arnaldo’s designs worked.

Neutrals were provided by Dong Omaga-Diaz who draped the female form in heavy black and wine-colored fabric, Carlo Jequinto who reworked black and white into very engaging mini creations, John Abul with his off-white, pearl-embellished, vintage-inspired dresses, and Jontie Martinez who created cocktail dresses from shawl-like fabric.

Tippi Ocampo emphasized metallic in both cocktail dresses and playsuits glamourized by jackets.

The emerging trend in fashion can not be encapsulated in one showing. I have always been a believer in the creators of fashion more than the creations. Most of all, I have always been a believer in the next generation and the same generation I belong to. I’ve heard too many elders proclaim us as portents for the future. I’d like to think we can give the future more than just "OK."

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Fashion Week was produced by Runway Productions under Joey Espino along with Cal Carrie’s, Avon, Wella,and EsAc Sydney-Manila.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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