Designer ‘dream team’ leads Manila FAME

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The dream team: (From left to right) Fashion and Design Council of the Philippines president JC Buendia, Citem’s executive director Rosvi Gaetos, Josie Natori, Inno Sotto, Budji Layug and Kenneth Cobonpue

Creating an identity that is truly Filipino.

That is the vision of designers Josie Natori, Inno Sotto, JC Buendia, Kenneth Cobonpue and Budji Layug as they lead a grand showcase of Filipino design both in fashion and furniture.

The works of this “dream team” will serve as the highlight of Manila FAME 2012 event slated March 14 to 17 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.

The partnership between these five world-class Filipino designers and the Center for International Trade Exhibitions and Missions (Citem), organizer of the biannual Manila FAME, was announced late February at the Shangri-La Makati.

“My marching orders from [Department of Trade and Industry] Secretary Greg Domingo last year was to unify the design industry. Now, our objective is to bring back design not just to its glory days, but to the next level,” began Citem Executive Director Rosvi Gaetos at the press conference.

Citem indeed is on its way back to its glory days. Last year, Citem finally unified the country’s major design expositions Manila Now, CEBU NEXT and Bijoux Cebu under the Manila FAME umbrella. This coming together of four world-class sourcing events continues this month.

Gaetos said the result of this effort was “staggering” to say the least, citing a 97-percent increase in buyer’s attendance and about 67-percent increase in export sales.

The “next level,” is now left on the hands of Natori, Buendia and Sotto for the fashion design and wear, and Cobunpue and Budji for the home and furniture.

Gaetos thanked Natori for putting up the whole team together, even encouraging Budji and Sotto who both left Citem years ago to come back. “Now is the time to be able to make the Philippines again as Asia’s design center. We’ve lost the title years ago and it’s about time that we should be able to claim it. This is the league of extraordinary gentlemen who will help Citem and Manila Fame do it,” Gaetos exclaimed.

Manila FAME will be highlighted by “Manila Wear” directed and curated by New York-based Natori, who came back to the country for this special project.

According to Natori, Manila Wear will be a showcase of resorts wear. She believes this should be the niche of Filipino fashion because this is the design that mostly uses tropical and indigenous Filipino materials and fabrics. “We are excited to be able to show Filipinos here what we really believe is the niche of Filipino design,” said Natori.

Twenty-one local fashion designers will gather to achieve this. For apparel, they are Vic Barba, Cesar Gaupo, OJ Hofer, Rajo Laurel, Jojie Lloren, Dennis Lustico, Randy Ortiz and Joey Samson aside from Sotto and Buendia; and for accessories TC Alvarez, Jun Artajo, Maco Custodio, Joel Escober, Lulu Tan-Gan, Adante Layesa, Joyce Makitalo, Arnel Papa, Patrice Ramos Diaz, Gerry Sunga and Mark Tamayo.

A fashion show will be held on the opening night that will feature five pieces from each designer, but to give a general sense and feel of what Filipino tropical wear should be, the names of the designers won’t be revealed until after the runway. “The challenge is to find the Filipino soul and bring it out,” added Natori.

Meanwhile, Cobunpue and Layug give direction to “Manila Home” that will be displayed on the second floor of SMX. The two will be working with country’s top furniture manufacturers for what is dubbed as the “DeXign” setting. Cobunpue described the whole process as both “rewarding but challenging.”

He explained, “It’s a challenge because we have to come up with new products in a short span of time, and it’s rewarding because this platform allows me to work with other Filipino designers in bringing out the best of what they have.”

The 55th edition of Manila FAME dubbed the “design and lifestyle event” of the year is truly set. “I would love to see ‘Manila Wear’ and ‘Manila Home’ become a standard reference in the design world,” concluded Natori.

Article Source : Manila Times