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In with the old, out with the new |


In with the old, out with the new

Patti Sunio - The Philippine Star
In with the old, out with the new

In between what felt like a reunion of fashion fans and friends and a welcome sight of fresh, new faces, the four collections on opening day of Bench Fashion Week (BFW) gave that much-needed comeback energy, post-lockdown season. Fashion week is back, for real, and it’s off to a good start.

Rock ‘n’ retro: Human x Jenni Contreras

Human X Jenni Contreras was the first to show, sending models stomping onto the concrete runways, clearly in high spirits, giving the audience a wink here, a flying kiss there, and huge smiles everywhere. They bared their midriffs, wore flowers in their hair, and paraded to throwback hits such as The Knack’s My Sharona and The Monkees’ I’m a Believer.

In this collaboration with Human, 2017 Bench Design Awards finalist Jenni Contreras was inspired by the way her parents dressed in the 1970s through the ‘80s. “I saw my dad in fitted, collared knit tees and super short shorts, and my mom in pants tucked in the ankles, underneath high socks,” Contreras shared.

During the pandemic, she found herself back in their hometown Laguna, poring over her parents’ photo albums. Classic slasher films (usually involving a murder taking place in a summer camp) set in the same era and the popular bops of the decade likewise informed Contreras’ designs and set her in the mood. “It wouldn’t be my collection if there wasn’t a little darkness behind the colors and the fun!” she added.

The result is a happy medley of the summer camp vibe that inspired her pieces and the joy of finally getting to dress up and step out into this new world. Out came tie-dyed coordinates, crop tops and track shorts, colorful crocheted hats, comfy tube socks with sandals, and belt bags worn across torsos.

Contreras’ versatile pieces were noticeably a far cry from her usual over-the-top designs that were often “worn once or twice to events, and never worn again,” the designer pointed out. Becoming more aware of fashion’s role in the bigger picture because of the pandemic, she shared: “I’m now leaning towards designing and creating pieces that will be staples you can style a hundred different ways and with other items in your closet. I think that it definitely showed in my collection with Human.”

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Shop Human x Jenni Contreras online at LazMall.

Generation Y2K: Cotton On

For the holiday season, Australian streetwear brand Cotton On put together a youthquake collection that gave off ultra-Y2K vibes — think: multiple hair clips with glittery makeup, poufy hair and hoop earrings, the thinnest spaghetti straps, the resurgence of cargo pants (and cargo mini skirts!), lace-lined everything, the layering of fitted knits, and lots of bold colors and psychedelic prints.

Each look sent a message that’s loud and clear: it’s high time the youth get back on their feet, get dressed, and reclaim their glorious days in style.

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Find a Cotton On near you at Cotton On Philippines on Facebook.

Black attack: Antonina

In pitch-perfect fashion, Antonina Abad Amoncio, 2019 Bench Design Awards winner, debuted an all-black, eight-piece collection, demonstrating what she does best: fabric manipulation via hand-stitching, cutting, and a play of textures.

Titled “Anino” (or “shadow”), the show had the eight models standing in coordinated rows, creating vignettes at varying areas across the runway, giving the audience a closer look into the meticulous detail and mysterious allure of every piece.

“It’s this very first collection of mine that had just one color, and as a designer, I was quite hesitant to execute a full collection in black,” Amoncio disclosed. “It can look flat from afar, but I was able to incorporate manipulations that are very close to my vision. All materials were locally-sourced,” she added.

Amoncio’s choice of all-black was genius in bringing out her well-versed techniques. The play of light cast shadows on every stitch, fold and crease; the mesh of texture in her choice of fabric: sheer or shiny, fluid and flowing, or stiff and structured; and the tiny, yet essential final touches on the clothes, from the metal rings to the fringes that adorned some pieces.

“I feel my design and creative process has not changed. I think it’s more of my viewpoint towards fashion (that has changed),” Amoncio shared, noting how the pandemic has given her more perspective, especially in becoming sensitive to what she puts out and when. And it’s clear with every piece in her collection. Not a single detail was done without careful thought. Amoncio’s “Anino” was clearly out to make an impact — and it did.

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For inquiries, direct message @ninaamoncio on Instagram.

Swag check: Strongvillage

When the models at Strongvillage walked out in dizzying zigzags rather than in a straight line like they usually do, the show immediately felt like one up-and-buzzing street party, where everyone’s just thrilled to be out and about, in great company, and dressed to kill.

Helmed by Russell Villafuerte, Strongvillage’s latest offering is yet again a testament to the designer’s years-honed craft in creating super unique pieces skillfully put together via strictly sustainable means.

While the pandemic caused the fashion industry to sit up and take notice of its waste contribution on the whole, Strongvillage has long been working on it. “My vision for Strongvillage has never wavered since its inception,” Villafuerte shared. “We always follow the 3Rs rule — reduce, reuse and recycle — in our design and production processes.”

There was a bucket hat with layered denim fringes; a blue-and-white pinstripe dress that looks to be reworked from a button-down shirt; a huge circular bag made of rice sacks, a loose-fitting part-shirt, part-jacket top worn with a checkered skirt; a blue and black gingham pantsuit; and a stuffed teddy bear.

In true Strongvillage style, there was denim combined with a bevy of other fabrics, fashioned into all iterations imaginable. Reworked with a fray here, an acid-washed fade there, patchworked and layered or re-constructed with tartan, plaid and windowpane checks, made-for-the-office pinstripes, chambray, and stars and stripes, camouflage and houndstooth prints, put together to create a brand new, one-of-a-kind piece of clothing from what could’ve been waste.

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For inquiries, direct message @strong.village on Instagram.

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