With her intriguing history of Spanish conquistadores, American and Japanese occupational military rule, Manila, once named Pearl of the Orient, is a true city in transformation. One can literally feel the air is filled with dozens of questions: ‘Who am I?’,’ Where do I want to go? ‘. Every corner you turn, there are people building yet another towering condominium complex, a fancy shopping mall or some other -to be still defined -new development project.
Behind the dozens of fashion and fast-food chains of mostly American and Japanese origin, there seems to be an awakening of Filipino entrepreneurs who want to break free from this ubiquitous street image. Young people, who want to find their own style, their own expression to connect to their cultural heritage in all the vast dynamics of the modern age. Last month, I was lucky to meet one of these entrepreneurs, Ica Serafica, a British/ Filipina fashion designer, in her art deco design studio in downtown Makati, Manila.
Ica comes from a colourful background having worked in London (Top Shop), Chile and Vietnam amongst others. The trunk show that I was visiting was a showcase of her latest prêt-a-porter line. It was however her signature ‘Filipiniana’ line, that was an instant blast: Gorgeous skirts, beautiful tops and elegant blouses, all the ladies present were overwhelmed with ecstatic outbursts of ‘I want this! ‘ Oh and look at how this fabric is shaped’, ‘ Give me that!’:´Black Friday Sales‘ in miniature.
There is a certain sensuality in the use of the traditional Filipino wear, either in fabric or shape. This style is both very elegant and chic yet distinctively simple, no frills attached. All the items seemed to be packed in a cloud of femininity that leaves the onlooker with a lingering feeling of ´Who is this woman?´
Prior to going to Ica’s trunk show, I had just watched the mesmerizing film ‘Gone Girl’ during which in one of the last nail-biting scenes, the actress Rosamund Pike is wearing an exquisite ensemble which alluring style very much resembles one particular top of Ica’s ‘Filipiniana’collection…..
You can imagine I completely fell in love with this beautifully created black top with off-white piña collar made of pineapple fabric, which is a technique unique in the world and is woven by hand yarn by yarn.
My very own ‘Gone Girl’ top was ready within a week as Ica perfectedly tailor-made this to my measurements.
Back on the streets of chaotic Manila, I take a look around, there is no escaping the Jollybee’s and teppanyaki shops. Yet I am grateful to have seen another face of Manila and had the chance to meet a very inspiring entrepreneur in this mind-boggling city full of hopes and dreams.
Ica is the perfect example of a new generation Filipino talent; someone who created her own style: innovatively crafting her unique designs into sophisticated, chic and comfortable pieces thereby truly blending Filipino wear into a modern look with a Western flair. In heart always Filipina yet deliciously infused with international sensibilities.
I am curious where Manila will be and how it will look in a couple of years, in any case with people like Ica, it will definitely boast a lot more style! For more information and inspiration, please take a look at Ica’s website: www.icaserafica.com, it is good to know that Ica takes overseas orders! And if you find yourself in ‘The Pearl of the Orient ‘of times past, please make sure to visit Ica’s studio yourself where you will feel very welcome by both Ica and her lovely brand manager Raj Rivera.
Get yourself your very own ‘Gone Girl’ outfit!