Claudio Javellana stages Filipiniana-inspired Fashion Show at the 2015 APCO Freedom Ball

From the Maria Clara gown to the kimona and the modern terno, fashion designer Claudio Javellana showcased the fascinating world of traditional Filipiniana costumes in one stunning collection.

Guests of this year’s APCO Freedom Ball enjoyed an exclusive preview of the latest fashion collection of Sydney-based Filipino couturier Claudio Javellana.

Javellana worked day and night in the lead up to the Independence Day celebrations  to prepare an impressive 11-piece collection spanning more than 100 years of traditional Philippine costumes, or Filipiniana, worn by women.

First on the catwalk was the 'Tres Maria Claras', three variations of the ‘Maria Clara’ gown, named after the literary figure made famous in the epic novel Noli me Tangere by Philippine national hero Jose Rizal. The style dates as far back as 1890, as a variation of the conventional baro’t saya (‘blouse and skirt’) worn by Filipina women at the time.

True to style, the outfits were made up of four pieces - the camisa (blouse with bell-shaped sleeves), the saya (skirt), the pañuelo (scarf) and the tapis (overskirt). Also reflecting the style of the period, the models carried fans, discretely placed over their mouths in a sign of modesty (see photos).

Next up was the ‘kimona’ series, although Javellana’s interpretation had a modern twist. Unlike the Maria Clara gowns which were multi-layered, the ‘kimona’ style was relatively more practical and can be worn during the day, not just for formal occasions.

In the third part of the show, Javellana gave the audience his vision of the modern terno, with their distinctive butterfly sleeves, made famous globally by former First Lady Imelda Marcos.

Not one, not two, not three - but four interpretations were shown on the night as worn by beauty queen Melanie Balagtas, singers Annie Marquez and Sidney Perez, and the event's co-host Michelle Baltazar.

But saving the best for last, the Filipiniana-inspired bridal gown – fit for a princess – completed the collection and drew applause from the audience. Model Jenny Austin modeled the backless gown with veil and intricate lace trimmings, accompanied by child model Oolan Margon who wore a Maria Clara-inspired flower girl dress.

“The reason why I wanted to do a Filipiniana-inspired bridal gown is to show the mainstream Australian society that we can be proud of our Philippine heritage and that the classic Maria Clara style is so elegant and timeless that it can still be worn today,” said Javellana.

The fashion show was supported by the Alliance of Philippine Community Organisations, Inc (or APCO) and was the highlight of the group’s annual Philippine Independence Day celebrations, or Freedom Ball, held at Dooley’s Lidcombe Catholic Club in Sydney over the weekend (June 13).

Video and photo credits: Bob Reyes, Rey Liwag and Mike Ligon.

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