Beauty, Nature, and Nostalgia: The Sartorial Explorations At UP’s Graduate Show “Dreams”

Beauty, Nature, and Nostalgia: The Sartorial Explorations At UP’s Graduate Show “Dreams”

Photo by Tinkerbell Poblete

“Dreams” ran uninhibited at the UP Clothing Technology graduate show, as the young designers mounted ambitious six-piece collections, each with its own story to tell.

Last Saturday, January 27, at Baked Studios marked a return to the runway for the University of the Philippines’ (UP) Clothing Technology program. The eleven designers from this year’s graduating class had the beginnings of their creative pursuits marked by isolation, making their production “Dreams” all the more meaningful. 

Sewing machines still whirred from within the backrooms of the venue an hour before the show, but the graduates never hinted at an ounce of nervousness. As they dressed their models amid the frenzy backstage, all you would find were smiles plastered on their faces. 

“We spent months and months of preparation for this,” designer Abubakar Manding said, as he later addressed the crowd after the show. “You know, we were the batch who entered the program [in] the year 2020, and it was the last production of the grad show. And we spent half of our college lives online in a remote learning setup. [It’s] so symbolic for us to bring back [the] annual tradition of the Clothing Technology program in UP to produce the graduation fashion show.” 

He later continued, gesturing to his fellow graduates, “This would not be possible—I would not be this ambitious—if it weren’t for the team I have behind me.” This ambition was evident throughout the collections presented earlier in the runway presentation. Each of the six-piece collections had its own story to tell, with sartorial explorations that ran the range from the myth and lore on life and death to deep introspections on the human psyche. 

The show began with Karine Resultay’s romantic sunset hues, inspired by her imagined escape to an inner world marked by the simple pleasures of girlhood. It would set the tone for other designers that would present later in the show. For one, Ayn Lachica’s collection explored the theme via the kitsch aesthetics of nostalgia, using patchworked pieces of lime green silk, lace, and denim. Jillian Centeno, on the other hand, built her collection around a fantasy wardrobe once upon a dream, realized in baby pink bow-bedecked dresses and coordinates. 

Then came the collections that featured an interesting foray into the human condition. Cheena Pamela Peñaflor was inspired by her own chromesthesia, using the colors she attributes to specific sounds to punctuate all-noir suiting and separates. In her collection titled “Bipolar,” Jackie Larosa’s varied proportions—from narrow skirts and tube dresses to an enveloping, pouf-pumped tulle cocoon—were an interpretation of a full spectrum of emotion. 

In a similar vein, there were designers who took a nod-to-nature approach to ideas around life and death. Sarah Fay Buljatin’s shoreline color palette was inspired by the open water and its ability to give the world life. As Dale Sarmiento presented their collection, they borrowed the words of poet Wallace Stevens: “Death is the mother of beauty,” taking softly gathered folds across a dark-to-light palette. The finale looks came from Manding, whose study of orchids took feminine silhouettes to new, amorphous forms. 

As creative directors at fashion’s top luxury houses often explain, only half of the work that goes into the work is the clothes. Christopher John Rogers once told Vogue, “I feel like only 10 to 15% of what I do is making clothes,” with his Resort 2024 collection “informed by wanting to go back to that essential feeling.” What was most exciting about the UP graduates’ collections at “Dreams” were the meticulous research and novel ideas that manifested in the garments they presented. As the industry would have it, a designer’s ability to look inward might be the most telling of success to come. For the future of Philippine fashion, expect new points of view on sartorialism—one that feels simultaneously self-defining and collective. 

See the looks from the UP graduate fashion show DREAMS below, and learn more about all eleven designers on the official UP Clothing Technology graduate show Facebook page

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