Who do you think will win? Is it Ariel, Philipp, or Veejay?
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The Romantic, The Technician And The Modernist
By C. Mendez Legaspi
THOUGH not aired on the two biggest networks in the land, the runaway television hit of the season is Project Runway Philippines (PRP) on ETC/SBN 21. Well, at least among fashionistas and similar crowds. A Filipinized adaptation of the Peabody Award-winning show, PRP had Teresa Herrera, Rajo Laurel, Apples Aberin-Sadhwani and Jojie Lloren as our approximations of, respectively, Heidi Klum, Michael Kors, Nina Garcia and Tim Gunn.
Unlike the vapid The Philippines Next Top Model, also produced by Solar Entertainment, Runway has all the ingredients that made the original a compelling television treat: smart editing, melodramas, minibreakdowns and genuine skill. Though I may not agree with the oft-times not-so-judicious choice of guest judges, the put-on cattiness of certain contestants, and the lame attempts at colegiala accents, the show is a certified hit that a second season is already in the works.
From 14 designers from around the country, the show whittled down the contestants to a final three representing the major geographical points: Veejay Floresca, 23, of Luzon (Makati), Philipp Tampus, 36, of the Visayas (Lapu-Lapu), and Aries Lagat, 25, of Mindanao (Iligan City). The final runway show was held recently at the SMX Convention Center as part of the ongoing Philippine Fashion Week, where each of the three showed a 13-piece collection to a jam-packed venue. The final runway judges included Cesar Gaupo and Rafe Totengco.
Tampus showcased his romantic streak with a beautiful collection dominated by his deft manipulation of crochet and lace. This was an offshoot of his piece from the Wedding Challenge (Episode 6). Lagat brandished his mastery of tailoring with his “More Than a Woman” line of precise, well-constructed, stupendous clothes. That was a progression from his 2006 Mega Young Designers Competition entry of technically superior work.
Floresca, in a sharp departure from his acclaimed aesthetic as a glamourpuss (remember his View cover with Kristine Hermosa?), presented “practical clothes for the modern woman.” In satin, chiffon and charmeuse, the excitable designer’s “Her Life After Tomorrow” collection is his wardrobe vision for the woman after the global crisis is over. Much like how Dior clothed women after the Second World War, Floresca’s new austerity is one of “subdued elegance.”
“The clothes look simple from afar but upclose, one can see that they were constructed in a different way, with some degree of difficulty,” Floresca explained. “I wanted the clothes to have a global outlook because this is a reality show that’s also seen abroad via YouTube.” The show is such a hit among Pinoys that a countryman, Jasper Gavinda, won London’s version Project Catwalk Season 3, and Mark Antonio is one of the designers on Project Runway Australia.
It was a risk that Floresca, characteristically, was all too willing to take. “I wanted to show my range as a designer. This will prove my versatility that I can do avant-garde and couture. With my final collection, I showed something wearable and something commercial. It is not easy to do something simple and subdued.”
Each finalist was allotted three months and were given a six-figure budget to make their collections. “I knew Philipp’s strength is couture and Aries will do avant-garde, and since the challenge that I won was about retail [Cinderella RTW Challenge, Episode 9], I opted to go in that direction,” Floresca related.
The divine feud of Project Runway Philippines was between Floresca (almost timid) and De La Salle College of St. Benilde drawing professor Eli Gonzales (ranting and raving). Was the feud real? “Oo. Inaaway niya ako eh,” Floresca admitted. But it was the combative Gonzales whom the fans voted as their favorite.
Are you encouraging your friends to join the second season? “I can only say to them, ‘Good luck.’ With a smile.”
The most intriguing figure on the show, however, was Jaz Cerezo, 25, of Dagupan City, an advertising graduate of FEU. I caught up with the contestant, whose marked advantage was her refined taste and sophisticated aesthetic, outside the SMX hanging out with her friends after the Renée Salud show.
Were you portrayed fairly on Project Runway? “Yes. There wasn’t anything that was not me,” Cerezo said, sweetly. What’s her next career move? “Dagupan’s fashion scene is not as vibrant as Manila’s, so I will be setting up shop here. I will be staying with some friends and, as soon as my finances are OK, I will tansfer my business here.”
Now that she has attracted a modicum of fame, will she be charging a higher rate for her highly coveted occasion dresses? The modelesque designer gave a wide smile: “Not really. The price range for my clothes will be competitive and on a par with other young designers here.”
As we said our goodbyes, the theme from The Crying Game curiously filled the air.
The winning designer will be revealed in a two-part season finale of Project Runway Philippines, which will be aired on ETC on November 5 and 12.