A Ray of Sunshine: Fashion at the Philippine Embassy

     World famous designer Yves Saint Laurant once said, “Fashions fade; Style is eternal.” In a similar vein ‘A Ray of Sunshine’, the collection inspired by the Philippine island of Palawan from Christine Ventilacion, draws from the eternal culture of the Philippines. It is this eternal culture that defines Filipinos across the globe.

     On 5th November the Philippine Embassy hosted an impromptu fashion show complimenting the book launch of Mr Ed Maranan. The designer Christina is a young Filipina who has studied at the Central Saint Martins college of Art and Design, one of the leading colleges for Art and Design in England and an internationally recognised institution, that boasts fashion powerhouses Stella McCartney, Paul Smith, John Galliano and Alexander McQueen as notable alumni.

     Philippine Generations caught up with Christine for a chika!

How was it growing up in Britain as a Filipino?

I grew up in Iloilo City in the Philippines. Philippines is family and faith-oriented as a country, it was distinctly Filipino how I was raised rich in traditions and values.

How would you describe the Philippines?

Warm, sunny and home.

Can you speak Tagalog or any other Filipino dialect?

I speak Tagalog and Ilonggo, my dialect.

What inspired you to take up design in school?

It is primarily my desire for higher learning, my resistance against poverty both materially and intellectually, and my love for fashion that led me to study design. There’s always something else we can learn to be good at.

Who within the Filipino community (if any) past or present inspired you?

My grandmother who made clothes too. She is a perfectionist and always does things flawlessly. She did not live long enough to see me do what I do but I know she is ecstatic. My parents inspire me always to be the best of who I am.

What inspired you to use Patadyong?

My inspiration in “A Ray of Sunshine” is Palawan. You can visualize the warmth and the spirit of the island in the colors of the dresses. Palawan’s rawness is depicted through the “Patadyong”. The Patadyong worn by women from different nationalities speaks about a culture greater than fashion consumerism. It unites women beyond boundaries, beyond cultures, birthing into a new reality – fashion with a soul and with roots.

Why did you choose the name “A Ray of Sunshine”?

It is a beacon of hope in the form of a dress. Hope for indigenous cultures to flourish and hope for young women in the world to discover their roots and let themselves shine.

Did you think the fashion show was successful?

Definitely! I got great feedback, guests felt the warmth of the Philippines and are considering a visit. I thought the colours might be too offensive for the international audience but the most colourful one – “Sinta” (blue, pink and orange) – is apparently the much-loved one! If I made one Filipino proud of their roots in one way or another, then all the efforts is definitely paid off.

If you had to choose a piece which one is your favorite and why?

Oh that’s tough. There are different reasons why I designed each piece and they are quite wide ranging in terms of wearability. Perhaps in terms of challenging the convention of printing on silk, while I did patchwork, and bringing to the fore what Philippines is about – a celebration of cultures reflected in the colors that I used, it would be “Sinta” (blue orange and pink with a diamond-ish design in front).

Another favourite is the purple long gown, featuring pearls from Palawan. Each strip of fabric is wrapped around the whole piece by piece, this act of wrapping the fabric around the body is powerful for me as it echoes an informed undertaking of a Filipina, embracing her roots and in doing so morphing into one beautiful and elegant piece.

What do you plan on doing next?

Loads in the back burner (as my boyfriend would say)! Look out for the next collection! My website www.christineventilacion.com will be launched soon.

Interview by Mae Williams


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