Created by former fashion model Malou Romero, Joanique marries Filipino cultural references with contemporary designs. Romero brings eye-catching geometry, patterns and bursts of colour into her handcrafted wooden clutches, as well as statement jewellery that features materials such as carabao (water buffalo) horn mixed with jasper, aventurine and mother-of-pearl. The name of her latest collection, Manika, comes from the Filipino word for “doll”, with the bag’s shape taking the form of Russia’s famous matryoshka nesting dolls. The dotted lines and stripes across the body were inspired by the patterns worn by indigenous tribes.
“PIOPIO’s true DNA comes from the experts we work with – sourcing all of our fabrics from traditional handweavers and artisans across the Philippines,” says founder Paloma Urquijo Zobel. Instead of following seasonal trends, craftsmen such as the inabel weavers from the northern region of Ilocos and handweavers from Mindoro’s Mangyan tribes are encouraged to get their inspiration from their emotions and moods. Urquijo Zobel and her team incorporate these unique weaves into denim, crop tops, jackets and beachwear. Earlier this year, the brand opened a store called Kubo, which houses their latest wares alongside the work of artisanal labels sourced from around the country, such as cruelty-free beauty products from FINN and jewellery from golden monstera, based on the southern island of Siargao.
An alumnus of the London College of Fashion and former intern at Phoebe Philo-era Céline, Cruz has amassed a loyal following among the Filipino “it” crowd who proudly wear his raw-edged denim, tactile patchwork and gauzy materials to buzzing club nights and gallery openings. He develops his own fabrics at Filipino mills, referencing his roots and heritage for inspiration – his most recent lookbook, for instance, featured friends and relatives from his native province, Bicol. English musician FKA twigs and Filipino-Australian fashion week fixture Kim Jones are among the notable individuals who have been spotted wearing his designs.
4. Ken Samudio
“I have always been fascinated by nature,” says Ken Samudio, who was a biologist specialising in marine biodiversity before he embarked on a career in accessory design. Still, his primary obsession comes through in his work – minaudières and necklaces resembling coral life forms; shells dangling from earrings; and his signature seahorse pieces crafted from mother-of-pearl have made an avowed fan out of Drew Barrymore, who has worn his jewellery on press tours and the red carpet. As a member of the Vogue Talents roster from 2015, he recently participated in the Vogue Talents 10th anniversary exhibition, showcasing his sleek capsule collection in Milan.
The three stylish Sambalido sisters who started Renegade Folk set out to create classic sandals that are built to last. In an effort to revive a flagging trade, Bea, Regina and Tina outsourced their craftsmanship to the cobblers of Marikina – known as the shoemaking capital of the Philippines – and are committed to creating the most comfortable footwear possible using buttery soft leather and arched insoles. Their latest move is to add ballet flats to their repertoire. “We want to modernise it and make it something everyone can wear, regardless of your lifestyle and personality,” says Bea. “At the same time, we want it to be distinct and not look like your usual ballerina [flats].”
Taking its name from the word that means “nice” in the Ilonggo language, NAMÌ is the brainchild of two women – fashion stylist Cath Sobrevega and former fashion PR professional Ina Tirthdas – who combine their street cred and refined design sensibility to create minimalist, everyday jewellery. What started as a line of sterling silver pieces has since evolved to add men’s rings, cuffs and a tie bar, as well as hair clips and even fine jewellery such as diamond studs, pavé ear cuffs and a standout choker with a single freshwater pearl. The delicate lines and elegant restraint of their creations make them a favourite among the country’s fashionistas.
7. Vania Romoff
Unapologetically feminine and romantic are the words that come to mind when describing Romoff’s work. The designer, whose grandmother was also a couturier, is known for creating draping cuts out of flowing fabrics designed to accentuate a woman’s curves. A go-to for Manila’s chic brides, she has made a mark with her ready-to-wear collections, using the same voluminous shapes, tastefully selected prints and sophisticated silhouettes to cement her status as a favourite for those on the hunt for a show-stopping look.
Events to look out for in Manila this October
This edition’s epicentre is the hip neighbourhood of Poblacion in Makati City, a nightlife hub that is home to hole-in-the-wall boutiques, cafés, studios and art galleries. Activities include design talks, a public space mural and a DIY tour, culminating in Manila FAME, a trade show featuring the country’s up-and-coming and established talents. 12–20 October.
For 10 days this month, participating theatres in Manila’s northern district will host screenings of Filipino films and international movies, as well as short films and documentaries that will be competing for the Audience Choice awards and a Jury Prize. 13–22 October.
Tony Award-winning actress and Filipino national treasure Lea Salonga headlines this staging of the Stephen Sondheim musical, just in time for the 40th anniversary of its Broadway debut. She plays the lovestruck Mrs Lovett to local rock star Jett Pangan’s rendition of Sweeney Todd, making for some gleefully dark comedy. 11–27 October.
Singapore Airlines flies direct to Manila four times daily. To book a flight, visit singaporeair.com
This article was originally published in the October 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine