Full menswear review: Philippine Fashion Week Holiday 2009

There must be something new in the air this season. Before going into the menswear pieces from Philippine Fashion Week’s Holiday 2009 collections, just a few observations.

It wasn’t only me; other members of the press also noticed a heightened fashion consciousness among the crowd that gathered for the shows—mostly young people, who I suspect were not only fashion students, but dedicated enthusiasts as well. I was pleasantly surprised by the mix of edgy street kids with dandies and eccentrics. It seems as if for many of them, this season was their first official fashion excursion.

From left: Maverick Lacson, Andre Chang, Robby Lolin

The same attitude of self-expression and experimentation seemed to have infected the menswear shows, which were variedly successful, ranging from single-piece hits to fully accomplished collections. Though the common lapses in design, such as poor construction, ill-used fabric, and a palpable lack of inspiration were still evident, a significant number of designers upped the ante with improved craft and finer finish. There were more unique and quirky ideas and enough whimsy that didn’t go overboard and could still be worked down into wearable outfits. The labels exerted stronger personality.

The most cohesive collection belonged to M Barretto, who presented notable slim-fit suit jackets that came in gray, black, and navy, with piping or with waist drawstrings.

M Barretto

Starting with the suits, M Barretto then proceeded to scale across a selection of men's basics sufficient to upgrade any wardrobe, while integrating modern ideas into the staples. Besides maitre d' jackets, he also had overalls, which were buckled, and drop crotch pants. Then he presented almost all the permutations possible with the cardigan and the pullover: widening collars, hems, and lapels; cutting pieces asymmetrically; pushing down v-necks; and even placing holes along collars. In the process, M Barretto paired them with superb denim and well-tailored pants.

In a word, the show was a shopper’s and retailer’s dream. Almost all the individual pieces were covetable—with an almost infinite number of combinations possible in styling them.

Another strong collection was Bang Pineda’s, which played with lengths, layers, and silhouettes. Though his pieces were not as traditional as M Barretto’s, Pineda—with his hooded ponchos, unique take on marbled jeans, shawl-collared robes, and insistence on zippers and polka dots—had a consistent vision of what was hip, fun, and alternative.

As Bang Pineda’s biker jackets and waistcoats were cropped shorter than normal, Jerome Lorico, for his part, cut his zippered vests even higher, completing all-black outfits comprised of shirts with their sleeves half ripped off, leggings, and military boots. “Healing” was his theme, hence the deconstruction and segmentation. Because of this, it may not be far off to interpret his outfits as uniforms belonging to urban warriors or soldiers decommissioned from their modern allegiances.

Besides the items from three collections, there were many scattered pieces representing what was new and fresh about this season’s menswear collections. They could roughly be categorized into three: leisure, basics, and fantasy.

On top of the list of the select leisurely items of clothing were two outfits by Gerry Katigbak. His most striking ensemble, which appeared both luxurious and period, was made up of a pair of loose white pinstriped pants paired with a black checkered and shawl collared jacket and a similarly collared loose white coat. His next outfit came in a pair of loose light gray pants, a salmon Chinese-collared shirt, and a gray jacket with giant lapels that look like sails. The effect of these two was relaxed and sophisticated.

Lyle Ibañez

Joining Katigbak in this category was Don Protasio, with his loose, below-the-knee drawstring shorts and tank top that looked disheveled enough to be stylish; and Zxander Tan, with his baggy black and white drawstring pants.

Updated basics then came from Anthony Nocom, with white shirts that could be worn tieless; Lyle Ibañez, with his black barong with geometric detaling as well as his well-tailored shorts and pants; Marc Tana, who presented the best cut white shirt with a Chinese collar and high side vents and very interesting single-buttoned vests and shirt-robe hybrids; and finally, Jeffrey Rogador, who made sporty jackets and coats, along with his metallic track pants.

After being informed of what pieces could easily be worked into men’s wardrobes came Estien Quijano’s woven pants in all-black or black and white. Though they looked suited more for ninjas than for anybody living in Manila, with the correct top, they could be turned into worthwhile statement pieces for nights out clubbing or simply having fun.

With all of these developments, it is easy to say that Manila menswear has come a long way. This is certainly true, and I am happy with the fact. But I am more interested to find out what these freshly empowered designers will do with menswear’s resurgence. More challenges await them.

Following suit
Text and pictures by Miguel Paolo Celestial
Additional photos by Bruce Casanova of OPMB
Published on The Philippine Star, 5 June 2009