They say that it’s often quiet before the storm. Last night, however, the silence took over after the whirlwind of the previous days as Manila Fashion Festival showcased the powerhouse names in the industry for its fourth day.
It was an overhaul from the craziness that came prior: no models being shouted at, no frantic movements, no hurried preparations. Everyone was in a state of almost surgical concentration. For myself and my photographer, it was almost unnerving as we were used to scrambling and the unexpected.
“Usually, when the organizers know what they are doing, it’s really not as crazy backstage,” says stylist Melvin Mojica who styled the show for Kika Style x Chaka. “And also because most of these designers have been in the business for a long time so they already know what to do.” Rhett Eala, Randy Ortiz, Avel Bacudio were just some of the names that were featured last night.
Granted that after a few days of the festival or any big event, you more or less get to iron out the creases and ease into the swing of things. But what I heard or what I didn’t hear, rather, backstage was the disarray of someone just staging their first show or the doubts that come in presenting a collection. In reality, JC Buendia, Joey Samson, Rita Nazareno of Zacharias 1925, Malou Romero of Joanique, and Tweetie De Leon Gonzalez were taking over the MFF stage for the first time.
“I’m nervous for every show. You never know what’s going to happen, you never know how the audience will receive your work,” says JC Buendia. He was, however, smiling backstage, carefully letting everyone change and just looking it over the way doctor’s do with their trained eye for perfection. I wonder how one could master jitters with such a calm demeanor.
The same went for Joey Samson. Nothing seemed out of place for the designer who brought his signature clean and polished aesthetic to MFF. “I just think to myself how I want to get every model out at the right time with the right look,” he says. Although he does echo JC’s sentiments, he adds, “Each and every show, project, or endeavor makes me nervous. You never know what’s expected of you and what you can give to them.”
In all of this, there was a unity. All of these designers and professionals in the industry understood how every one wanted to showcase their art, to make a mark once more, and to do it well. Tweetie De Leon-Gonzalez says that what pushed her to do the show was how she was among friends so the enviroment made her feel comfortable. “I received the support I needed to go forward. Of course, I had self-doubt minutes into the show. But I’m still glad I did it.”
Fashion, after all, creates communities. It’s a space for individuals to share each other’s ideas and to support one another. Not to get all cheesy here but that’s one humbling thought I encountered backstage. That these names are friends to each other, helping each other out. What’s more is how they aim to make the community grow. “A show like this is still important because we are trying to reach an online audience, new people who are experiencing fashion in a new way,” says JC.
So this is how the pros do it. No drama or pomp except on the runway itself. No fuss, no mess. In events like these which involve a lot of resources and people, it’s easy to forget that we’re really here to witness how genuine individuals reveal their artistry in the most authentic way. Joey says it best whenever he makes a collection, “It’s always very important for me to consider that I just had to be true to my DNA and my aesthetic as an designer. What’s important to me is to be true to myself and to show what truly represents me.”
Click the slideshow above to view more of what happened backstage.