Young and vibrant


  • Lifestyle
  • Thursday, 15 Apr 2010

Local label salabianca looks to the Philippines for inspiration for its spring/summer collection campaign.

THE skyline in the business district of Makati in Manila is pretty much like any other modern city. It’s the urban sprawl of the larger Metro Manila that makes it different.

The old part of the city, Intra-muros, reminds one of Manila’s rich Spanish heritage, which is understandable considering the Spaniards ruled the Philippines for 333 years.

That was the setting of the first location shoot for salabianca’s annual foray overseas for their Spring/Summer 2010 (together with sibling-label philosophy-Men) collection campaign. Both Allan Chan and Tino Soon, the duo behind the labels together with their regular campaign team (headed by photographer H. Lin Ho), were all geared up for the photography session, while being observed by representatives of the Malaysian media who had tagged along.

This was the eighth overseas location shoot for the label. salabianca started out in 2003 and the locations have all been highlighted in their previous collections like Bangkok Express, Bali Bagus, Ciao Italia and Incredible India.

Chaotic best describes the traffic in Manila and the snarl can go on up to 10pm. Tour director Tommy Soria said in jest that the drivers in Manila adhered to an 11th Commandment (Philippines being a predominantly Roman Catholic population): “Thou shall not yield!”

Despite the never-ending traffic jams, the city has a charm all of its own, largely due to the very friendly, delightful and captivating people.

Despite the hot weather and the early morning wake-up calls, the two Brazilian models, Isadora (for salabianca) and Bruno (for philosophy-Men) were totally professional in their approach to work.

Did you read Brazilian models? Where is Malaysian favourite model Amber Chia who practically fronted all of the label’s campaigns even before she became the household name that she is today?

“The whole concept of the campaign, Wow! Manila is about the colourful cultural mix of the Philippines with its Spanish, Malay and American background and history. As such, we wanted models who could represent that look – you could say, had a Pan-Asian face. Reyo Lim, M.A.C’s Pro-Artist has managed to transform the Brazilian models accordingly,” explained Chan.

Apart from churches, forts and the calesa (horse carriages) at Intramurous, the famous jeepneys (mini-vans) of the Philippines, the Philippines Cultural Centre Complex and Manila Bay were also part of the backdrop for the shoot.

Even the famous Filipino dessert, halo-halo (very much like our ais kacang) and the myriad of sarap (yummy) desserts on offer were featured in one of the shots.

The main attraction however, was the clothes, of course. As seen in their last collection, salabianca is moving towards a younger look. But Chan was quick to point out that it didn’t mean they had abandoned their older clientele.

“We can’t be doing elegant sophisticated wear all the time. We can incorporate that identity, tone down on the embellishments and go for a much younger look. But, our existing customers who may be in their 30s and 40s or even older, can still pull off the look. If we’re looking at a sophisticated evening gown that’s going to be worn only once or twice, it’s difficult to repeat the outfit. Instead, we have come up with separates so everything still looks fresh depending on how you put the outfits together. What you see in the images are just some of the suggestions of how you can it,” said Chan.

Soon said that evening wear, cocktail dresses, especially special occasion wear, used to be their staple (which also makes up the stock design of most Malaysian designers). He exclaimed that this was not a challenge anymore, and it was a conscious decision to change the label’s directions and focus on “younger” wear. It also caters to “the children and grandchildren their long-term customers!”

“We used to do a lot of embellishments and beading, which was quite feminine. Now, we do it in a different way with applications so it’s a more industrial look with a harder edge. So, you can see more metal studs, plastic rings, cut-outs and appliques. We use different kinds of fringes, those that look like spaghetti or grass,” said Soon.

Fabric-wise, they have also chosen to stand apart from the usual Malaysian-designer preference for silk chiffon. So, there’s stretch satin, stretch cotton, viscose knit and sequinned fabric. Colour-wise, don’t expect to see the staple bright colours the label is so well-known for. But, some of the familiar and sought-after items like the label’s popular T-shirts with quirky and funny messages − such as “Big girls need big diamonds” – are still apparent.

According to Soon (who’s the design force of the duo), one of the inspirations for the designs was the Spanish heritage of the country. So, there are nods to chandeliers, mirror frames and stained glass. Silver, grey and lilac hues with dusty pink round up the collection. Shapes are simple and easy with coordinates embellished with crystals and cut-glass.

The Filipino touch is obvious, as reflected by the basket weave motifs, bamboo twists and palm leave folds on some of the pieces. The colour palette for this range is yellow, orange, plum and brown. The silhouette is fuss-free with a softened-look littered with textured applications.

Street style pieces are inspired by the jeepney with metal adornments − zips, chains, metal mosaic and mirrors.

n The new collection is available in salabianca stores nationwide. Prices range from RM59 to RM499. The Wow! Manila campaign was made possible courtesy of the Tourism Department, Philippines, Philippines Embassy Malaysia, Malaysia Airlines, Dusit Thani Hotel Manila, M.A.C cosmetics, Mid Valley Megamall and Jacob’s Creek. For details, call % 03-4270 5711/4067.

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