All Things Bright and Shiny

Given the state of the currency exchange, it’s no wonder that the dollar-dictated export industry of Cebu is in mayhem. Jewelry designers, who placed Cebu on the fashion map, now have to tighten their belts to prevent costing mishaps and employee cuts. That plus rising prices of raw materials once cheap in native shores are now constantly increasing at frightening degrees. Designers now not only have to think of aesthetic elements but whether the design is actually achievable for mass production. This sacrifice would sometimes equal to lesser beads and finishing, and especially lesser areas for jewelry designers to play in.

Perhaps from boredom or in rebellion of the economy, jewelry designers fought back the only way they know how: to design with creativity alone in mind. At least for one night. This battle cry was made by members of the Cebu Fashion Accessories Designers Guild (CFADG) and contestants from its first Cebu Fashion Accessories Design Competition who took the runway at PAGCOR’s Teatro Casino last 3rd of May. They garnered nothing but applause from contemporaries with a visual celebration of all things opulent.

Big and bold, jewelry has certainly come a long way from being just an add-on. The concept of jewelry wearability, for example, has shifted from whether it can blend well with the overall unit to whether it can stand out alone despite bare canvass. This seems to have been proven by entries to the competition, all-striking in production and artistic detail.

Noreen Tseng’s creation of gold plates that curtain down into a diamond-shaped design is perfect case in point. It trails down from the model’s neck down to the whole torso, giving the illusion of a thousand reflections mirrored back at the viewer. The vertical inclination elongates the wearer and its clean craftsmanship is apparent at closer look. This chinita and her creation won the judges’ hearts as she won all special awards, the Cebu Daily News Choice Award, the Y101 Choice for the Professional Category Award and Zee Magazine’s Choice Award. Nothing seems sweeter however than winning the overall price of being the first CFADC Designer of the year for the professional category. This promising designer is sure to be seen at upcoming fashion scenes. It is best to watch out for her.

Joining Noreen at the professional category are works of Alpio Saban, Jehser Yares, Ariel Carsula and Ronnie Tragantin with clothes by Brendon Val Cenon. Ronnie’s work, dominated by bright colors of gold, amethyst and pink is also interesting in terms of functionality. A matching clutch bag is attached to the belt, and the belt attached to the overall neckpiece. Each part connected to the overall whole seemed tedious to do but Ronnie pulled it off.

In CFADG Chairman’s Mark Anton Masa’s speech, he declares the group is unified at providing a venue for young Cebuano designers to showcase their work. To develop artistry and a place in the fashion accessory industry are also motives he and the other 4 members share. That’s why the group catered not only to practicing individuals but non-professionals as well. The competition was a debut of sorts for these individuals with diverse styles, techniques and raw talent to be developed for the fashion industry’s future.

Romlyn Basiga’s combination of gold, pearls and amethyst precious stones was an elegant member reminiscent of the Victorian era. Its choker draping down to three broochlike elements and matching earrings is very high end and ideal for long necked clients whose asset can carry the piece well. Romlyn bagged home the Designer of the Year award for the non-professional category.

Opposite to Basiga’s piece is Carlo Rodriguez’s copper wire creation. Shaped into a sun accented by blue stones, Carlo’s work evokes a tribal feel very similar to the designer himself who seems to be more at home in a band than in the catwalk. The ease at which he pulls off his masculinity despite a femininely dominated group makes him one to watch out for as well. His work was Cebu Daily News’ choice for the non-professional category. Y101’s Choice award was given to Helen Tragantin for her headdress and armband that extends at both sides to connect with rings. Zee Magazine’s Choice Award honored Arturo Sanchez, Jr. for his black links with gold and diamonds. Clothes were provided by Edwin Alba.

Not to be outdone, the CFADG members also shared their artworks for inspiration ranging from the retro to the ethereal, down to the eclectic and warrior like. Each designer had a theme in mind with matching clothes by respected designers. There was Jamie Zanoria’s Cielo e Tierra, Ciege Cagalawan’s Torrid Acid, Mark Tenchavez’s Saturnina and Dianne Espera’s Free Love. The runway was capped off by the president himself, Mark Anton Masa’s Babylon, an impressive shield-like creation, evoking war and redemption.

The night was a reminder of all things good and beautiful in the Cebuano accessories industry, a spark of hope in the somewhat elusive place for designers and companies today. No matter the amount of tribulations faced though, there is no doubt as to the potential and ingenuity these individuals possess in their fingertips.

To manipulate metal and stone is in itself a feat but to manipulate it into a thing of beauty is cause for admiration. If Cebuano pride is to be resurrected, one reason is surely this. It is simply too sparkly to go unnoticed.


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