The Philippines’ hottest designer Patis Tesoro scorched the runway with the unveiling of her latest collection at Philippine International Aid’s (PIA) annual fundraiser at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero in downtown San Francisco last November 18.
The audience of about 750 of the Filipino American community’s well-heeled gaped in awe as male, female and child models strutted out in outfits that defied traditional labels.
Malongs that really weren’t malongs, tops that weren’t the usual tops, sheer piña (pineapple fabric) kimono-inspired vests and blouses, scarves, harem pants, midi- and miniskirts–each one in mesmerizing colors–chartreuse, orange, red, fuschia among them—were matched with swirls, circles, dashes, plaids and tongues of fire that shouted bold, funky and edgy in every way.
Unique and daring, many of the outfits were unimaginable outside the runway. But if anyone actually dared wear them on the street, San Francisco would probably be the best city to showcase the fashion statement; but that poor soul would have to cover up with a coat. Not for temperate climates the collection was.
Patis Tesoro is best known for her passion and dedication to Philippine traditional textiles and weaving. Her native costume creations are admired for their meticulous embroidery (calado) and appliques. This was what the audience expected and it was what they got, but with a twist.
Yes, Patis’ genius for the innovative use of piña was in full display, but hardly anyone (or at least those who were uninitiated to the world and the vocabulary of high fashion) expected that these traditional hand-woven textiles could be dyed, shaped and combined with other textures beyond a saya (traditional skirt) or a barong tagalog (traditional men’s shirt).
The fashion show, which lasted 40 minutes, was a feast for the eyes, a fitting highlight to PIA’s 26th anniversary fundraiser, which benefits more than 2,000 indigent Filipino children annually. The kids are now able to go to school because of the generosity of the Bay Area Filipino community.
Fashion designer Anthony Legarda consulted for this article.