Fashion Statements from the Cordilleras
By Maria Elena Catajan
Published in Malaya
BAGUIO CITY — In celebration of Cordillera Month, the distinct culture and heritage of the highlands was showcased at the SM City Atrium last week in a fashion show and exhibit
Featuring local fashion designers, a line of clothing and jewelry were added to the usual upland products displayed; proving local artists could indeed compete globally.
Highland products like coffee, tea, rice, local weave and wine were also presented.
The audience was witness to an array of collections from leading local designers, who have taken the path to international acclaim. Among them were Narda Capuyan of the Narda’s Fashion Collection and Evelyn Ibays from the Ibays Silver Collection, two of the companies who launched the Cordilleras in the fashion and jewelry international market.
The fashion show added a different twist as models were culled from different government agencies wearing the exclusive Narda Ikat collection made into stylish ponchos, blouses and wraps.
Capuyan’s story has been told and retold to encourage local weavers to perfect the skill and appreciate native color and materials. Inspired by an old Ifugao ikat blanket, Narda’s started 30 years ago in La Trinidad weaving blankets from recycled acrylic yarns.
From the blankets, she moved on to hotel furniture weaving bedspreads, draperies and upholstery. She expanded to bags, shawls, scarves, placemats and rugs.
Ikat has been circulating the globe attracting stores in New York, Europe, Canada and Japan. Her impressive technique of tying and dyeing segments of threads before actual weaving has captured a loyal international market.
Models then entered the stage-wearing top of the line silver products made by the internationally acclaimed Ibay Collection, the collection added glitz and glam to the night.
Baguio City has chosen marketed silver as the One Town One Product (OTOP), making products by Ibay’s led the pack of silver craft designers in the area, a favorite of residents and tourists alike, silver has been on the top must buys from the city.
Silver has become a favorite accessory for formal and non-formal wear, preferred by all age groups. The Ibay collection has produced earrings, bracelets, rings, and necklaces and expanded into making purses and evening bags.
The company started in 1974 as a home based business making silver filigree products and has since long established itself as the leading jewelry company in the area. The management of Ibays has also advocated for the production of quality silver craft and has proven the importance of quality over quantity.
Louie Aguilar, the show’s director has been producing a variety of shows for the city for years, utilizing local talent and products to boost tourism and advocating for the use of Cordillera products in the fashion industry "I only utilized six models from my personal collection, the models came from government line agencies," adding that the move made the celebration of Cordillera month more meaningful.
The designs of Local Khazzat Handicrafts by Melinda Castro were also modeled. Khasa, which is the Ibaloi term for destiny, displayed an array of bags and handicrafts.
The Mayat-an collection imparts a statement to preserve traditional ethnic design skills derived from the lifestyles of the people of Ifugao.
The celebration of Cordillera month has indeed proven that the region is a leading hub of arts crafts and fashion