Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pinoy Dressing

I got special gifts for Christmas: two books from Anvil. And because I tend to judge a book by it's cover, I picked up Pinoy Dressing by Barge Ramos, writer and fashion designer,  first. The cover design was a colorful one by Ige Ramos, with Loretto Popioco's sketches adorning each page. Now who can resist that?

Pinoy Dressing is a collection of articles which appeared weekly in a column of the same title in Malaya Living. The first article came out in the summer of 1990 and, for five years, showcased the evolution of Philippine fashion.

Truth be told, I was only expecting to read about the metamorphosis of the bahag or loincloth into, say, the barong Tagalog. I was pleasantly surprised when my leisure reading turned into an educational experience. Pinoy Dressing explains how clothing--- the fabric, the patterns, the dyes used, the length of the sleeves or skirts, the weaving patterns--- describes the wealth of our culture. Each garment reveals the wearer's history, rank in society, influences, political as well as religious experiences.

Take the advent of the barong Tagalog, for instance. Barge Ramos writes:

Historians say that when the Spanish colonizers arrived in the 1700s, the barong Tagalog became a symbol of oppression, a harsh reminder that despite his wealth and social status, the ilustrado [...] remained natives. Although the ilustrado was allowed to imitate, to a reasonable degree, the western manner of dressing, he was required to wear his shirt untucked [...] to categorically differentiate him from the real Spaniards.

However, the Filipino will not be thwarted. He wore his baro with embellishments like studs and cufflinks, complemented it with a walking stick made of expensive material and completed the look with a pair of hand-embroidered slippers. Doesn't the gentleman make you feel so proud to be Filipino?

It was sheer pleasure flipping the pages of the book, and this is largely because of Loretto Popioco's illustrations. His sketches of figures wearing contemporary dress are superimposed on watermarks of traditional weaving motifs of the different ethnic groups, bordado a realce or embossed embroidery patterns, and tattoo designs by the group of early Filipinos called the Pintados, interspersed with old black and white photographs of Filipinos wearing traditional costumes.

Pinoy Dressing serves as an inspiration to preserve our heritage and it gives us a greater appreciation not just for the aesthetic value of Philippine fashion but for the rich, colorful history that shapes it. We are, after all, what we wear.

Title: Pinoy Dressing:Weaving Culture into Fashion
Author: Barge Ramos
Illustations by Loretto Popioco


ArtSeblis said...

Have you seen the SLIM's couture collection-exhibit at the National Museum? The gowns are to die for!

I think you would enjoy going there.

mental wayfarer said...

I don't go to exhibits much. I know. I'm pathetic. I do plan to go to UST's Lumina Pandit, though. If i can just find time...