He’s a fashion blogger when he’s facing his computer. He’s an active Lookbook user when he’s trigger happy with his camera. And he’s a fashion design instructor when he’s at the Philippine Women’s College of Davao.
But very recently, he’s a celebrated fashion designer who made waves in a prestigious contest in Japan.
His creation called Dreamweaver was selected as one of the top 50 (out of 2,500!) to strut the ramp of Meguro Gajoen Hotel for the Japan Fashion Design Contest last October.
And being a finalist wasn’t just what he ended up with: Dreamweaver zoomed past the others as it won second place in the competition, beating designs from fashion students and designers from France, Russia, Belgium, and Germany.
Junnie, as we would call him, also took home a special award from a Japan-based fashion newspaper called Senken Shimbun.
His unusual fascination for weaves and gradients were the building blocks of his creation. “My inspiration is the weaving pattern of Kalakat, a walling material for houses in the Philippines using bamboo slats or bark of palm oil,” he shared. “I was inspired to translate its Ikat-like pattern into apparel by further manipulating the large-scale weaving techniques into gradating episodes.”
“I envision the woman in this interpretation as somebody who is weaved of a phenomenal diversity of influences between oriental and occidental, past and future, local and global,” he said.
The ensemble is dominated with gradients of black and brown (with hints of red and orange), colors which Junnie thinks are the safest to use in design competitions. “They are elegant and they aptly describe the fall season to me,” he said in an interview with this writer.
The headgear and the puffy shorts are made out of dyed jute sack; the gloves are made with the same material and were even spruced up with abaca twine.
The main piece of Dreamweaver, which took him two days to design and 30 days to produce, is made of abaca twine and was twill weaved using a tool he inherited from his mother who runs their family business: a dress shop.
When asked what sets Mindanao fashion designers apart from the others, he blurted out: materials. “We have everything here,” he shared, referring to the vast resources available for aspiring designers and professionals alike: beads, coconut fibers, jute, abaca, and endless rolls of different fabrics. But more than that, he was quick to note that products of designers in Mindanao are teeming with stories; that every piece had a story to tell.
His was one of them.
(The Japan Fashion Design Contest is highly respected in the industry and it has been running for almost half a century now. The contest, organized by the Dressmaker Fashion Education Promotion Committee of Japan and the Sugino Gakuen, is said to be a gateway to the fashion industry. Previous Philippine entries have also made waves in the competition in 2007, 2009, and in October last year.)