Philippine Fashion Week S/S 2014: Ben Farrales


And once again, better late than never. I have took the liberty that a Sunday off brings and begin to pen again another blog post. One, that my partner J, must be itching for me to finish and not a day more. So, I kept my word, and now to present the most memorable and most anticipated (or mine, so to speak) fashion show of the recently (hahaha right, right!) concluded Philippine Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2014.  

"Save the best for last." may be fitting but it's definitely an understatement. You may not know who Ben Farrales is but any self-respecting persona in the fashion industry would and will invetibly look-up-to.

“Tonight is the reason there is Philippine Fashion Week.” - Joey Espino

Ben Farrales or Mang Ben as he is fondly called, is the Dean of Philippine Fashion. A monicker given to someone who was known as the crème de la crème’s fashion toast. He has moved the industry into bigger heights and has been an inspiration for many aspiring and successful Filipino designers of various generations. He has been making waves in fashion since he opened his first shop at Malate, launched the first fashion show in the Manila Hotel in 1959, became the first Filipino to showcase his talent at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC in 1984 (yes, I also do my research) to that fateful day last October 27 at the SMX Convention Center that exhibits a retrospect of his designs through the years of his fruitful career.

PFW director, Joey Espino opens the event with words of inspiration and praise to Mang Ben. He acknowledges the man behind the buzz as a man of simplicity, humility and utmost dedication to the arts. A genius who never stops to uplift the spirits of his colleagues and contemporaries as well as the industry in general.

One thing about the show, besides the designs, is the feel of an authentic retrospect. I, personally, is the vintage-savvy type (yes, very 2008 hipster but that's just me and I ain't faking it) given I grew up to parents who celebrated there youth in the 40's and 50's, so this show was very appealing and personal to me. The runway is polished gold and the backdraft is a simple "Ben Farrales" signature: very classic. The classical score that runs to and fro leaves a very old air throughout the whole stage.

The show starts with black and white evening gowns from his previous collections, celebrating the bravado of women in the days where evening functions and parties are classy and never trashy. 

This one is a favorite of my friend, The Fresh Orchid Gown circa 1959, which a faux orchid shawl adorns a simple black gown. 

Mang Ben is also known for his oriental and muslim inspires pieces as shown in these traditional designs. What's great about the designs is that whenever we think of the reservations of the traditional muslim designs we tend to detach it from high fashion staples. With Mang Ben, he weived and celebrated these aesthetics and make it very chic and somewhat desirable. You never see pieces like these again. If you do, nothing compares to a Farrales piece. 

The next round would be a parade of classic Kimonas and Maria Claras adorned in lavish embroideries, intricate beading and lace. These are actually my favorite pieces. This is the exact reason why Ben Farrales is golden. The way he flaunts the appeal of the classic and timeless Filipiniana costume is so outstanding that it outshines any couture piece anywhere. And as a maximalist myself, it's so hard to underappreciate such an aestethic. Bravo!

The show closes to the tune of "My Way" which may be a song with an at-gun-point reputation but is a fitting choice for someone who sailed the industry to a whole new direction. Mang Ben was escorted by show director Ogee Atos and fashion designer Tonichi Nocom as he takes his bow. (This is the closest I can get to a shot since my seat wasn't like the best and everyone is crowding up the stage) Clad in a black tux, the crowd goes wild and spectators, even people who hasn't had a clue who Ben Farrales is until that night, was in tears as the show concluded. It was really a memorable show. A lookback to a lookback which will truly be unforgettable.

After the show, the models made a row to showcase the pieces for the pleasure of media and spectators. I'm pretty sure I have noticed it but can't exactly point-out the who's who in the runway until then. The designs where paraded by senior models like Tweetie de Leon-Gonzalez, Marina Benipayo and the like as well as in-demand models such as Sarah Meier-Albano, Charo Ronquillo and Jasmine Maierhofer.

Sorry, I just can't help but push the retrospective atmosphere and filter the photos into this really old saturated color and also can't help but HDR-ify the last two photos so it would resemble those old MOD magazines I used to read and cut-out for my projects as a kid.

My excitement for this show has not dismissed my ever-tardy gene pool but I was just in time. I was with my friend, L that night because of me and J's schedules. At least we get to attend two shows in one season, right, J? L was in her signature LBD and neutral heels and biker jacket. I was totally unprepared (then again, when was I ever?) went berserk street style with my crimson polka-dot mini dress, panther sweater, gold-tipped heels and my omnipresent signature cap.

I have nothing but "Wow's" and "Oooh's" that night and though unfortunately I was not with J that night, I fully gratuitous to my friend L for being with me. The show definitely fueled my fashion veins and will soooo be looking forward to next season.


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