Sometimes we have this tendency to equate fashion with the showing of skin, more skin and much skin. I’ve been to a few fashion shows, including some for lingerie and swimwear, and skin exposure is inevitable. Even wedding gowns which, in my younger days, used to mean long white sleeves and high-collared gowns have now evolved to the point where you sometimes wonder if the gown is too scanty to be worn in front of the altar.
Today, I was privileged to experience a different kind of fashion show in Manila – the first of its kind in Manila. All the beautiful models were covered from head to toe – beautifully! This was the Islamic Fashion Festival Manila 2012 (IFF), hosted by the Malaysian Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Dato’ Sri Dr. Ng Yen Yen.
The IFF was launched in 2006. Its aim – “To build an updated visual and cultural reference from which Islam can be related to the modern world through the creative arena of fashion divorced from political, economic and social strife”. The very first IFF was held in Kuala Lumpur in 2006 and eventually, showcases were held in places like Abu Dhabi, Astana, Bandung, Dubai, Singapore and Kota Bharu as well as New York, Monte Carlo and London. Now, add Manila to that list. “Manila..has the honour of being the curtain-raiser for the series of IFF showcases for 2012” says Raja Rezza Shah, Founder & Chairman of IFF.
The theme of the festival was very appropriate: “Discover the Beauty of Modesty”. In a world where our children are growing up thinking fashion means wearing the shortest skirts, the lowest neckline, the barest backs and so on, seeing the Malaysian models parade down the catwalk fully covered up was an eye-opener for me to the world of Islamic fashion. You can look fashionable, classy and stylish while remaining fully covered.
The collections of 7 designers (Malaysian and Filipino) were featured — some in bright and vibrant colors, others in black and white renditions; swirls of sheer cloth in layers of various shades and hues; modern batik designs; exquisite embroidery and bead work; and beautiful turbans and veils wrapped around the head in different ways.
Showcase #1: “Love” by Tom Abang Saufi of Kuala Lumpur
Peonies and Oriental hues inspire this collection which revolves around the universal theme of ‘Love’. I really loved the play of colors – all eye candy! With summer coming up, this collection would look just great.
Showcase #2: “First Lady” by JC Buendia of Manila
This black-and-white collection is inspired by style icons Jackie Kennedy and Princess Diana. The piece de resistance in this collection is a coat dress that is entirely encrusted with pearls, symbolizing the richness of the seas.
Showcase #3: “Mystery of the Orient” by Milo Migliavacca of Bali
Animal prints combined with Indonesian batik is what this collection is all about. Intricate hand embroidery and beading complete the elegant look.
Showcase #4: “Mixed Media” by Veejay Floresca of Manila
Taking inspiration from different artworks and paintings at the V & A Museum in London, Veejay transformed them into clothes to create the look of this collection.
Showcase #5: “Rabi’a” by Syaiful Baharim of Kuala Lumpur
Rabi’a al-Adawiyya is a Muslim saint and Sufi mystic. Inspired by Sufism mystic and romance, Syaiful Baharim presents a collection that aims to highlight a woman’s natural silhouette while remaining respectful to Islamic sensitivities.
Showcase #6: Jun Escario of Manila
Showcase #7: “The Paradise Within” by Melinda Looi of Kuala Lumpur
This collection is inspired by Malaysia’s beautiful beaches. Melinda’s signature silk chiffon echoes the gentle waves and emerald colors of the sea. Malaysian art in batik is woven carefully into the fabric. As for the turbans? I was reminded of the Arabian Nights!
Reading through the programme, I learned that the first day of the festival was a charity gala dinner attended by patrons. It’s so heartwarming to know that Malaysia, a neighbor, would include Philippine charity organizations in its list of beneficiaries of their fashion festival. The gala dinner beneficiaries were Allianze Asia-Pacific Meducation Scholarship, Museo Pambata, the Philippine Public Safety College and Virlanie Foundation Inc.
Congratulations to all those behind IFF Manila 2012, most of all to my dear friends, the Malaysian Ambassador H.E. Dato Seri Dr. ibrahim Saad and his wife, H.E. Datin Seri Dato’ Zainab Abdul Kader.