Jo Ann wears a DIESEL lacquered pop- print jacket and skirt. Lukresia wears a LEBY LE MORÌA basahan-inspired dress woven and sculpted from diverse scrap fabrics. Rina wears a PAOLINA RUSSO corset fashioned out of upcycled shoes. Photo by Sharif Hamza
“If you want to see your past, it’s in Batanes.”
These words marked the beginning of Vogue Philippines’ sojourn in the highlands. Imparted by independent curator Marian Pastor Roces to features editor Audrey Carpio, it foretold what the crew might find along that hilly terrain: “our people’s beginnings—a story of earth, sky, craft, and boundaries broken.”
Where we started
Batanes is the northernmost province of the Philippines, taking the front end of the punishing gale-force winds that have carved out its rocky formations for millennia. It’s the point of entry for the country’s first settlers, which might be why the place itself calls for surrender. “Everything just felt symbiotic,” said cover model Lukresia. “In Batanes, it’s like working with nature.” For the Vogue Philippines Anniversary Issue, the team wanted to tell a story about where the Filipino people came from, where we are now, and where we are going—in looking for a place to narrate this from, Batanes simply felt right. Editor-in-chief Bea Valdes said, “It’s a place of longing, but it feels like a real place of discovery as well.”
Where we are
The cover story cast models Jo Ann Bitagcol, a veteran of the fashion industry and creative director of her eponymous label; Lukresia, a queer model who was scouted after donning her own couture creations in her backyard chicken coop; and Rina Fukushi, a Japanese-Filipino model whose personal journey speaks to the Filipino diaspora. “The casting for the cover was really special,” Vogue Philippines fashion director Pam Quiñones said. “It took us a few weeks to really deliberate on this, but one thing was sure—we wanted to showcase the different faces of a Filipino.”
Where we’re going
Sustainability is at the forefront of discussion for many Filipino fashion designers and advocates. Among them, there is a collective desire to go back to tradition, celebrating artisanal workmanship, high craft, and upcycling methods via modern-facing silhouettes. “Filipinos are very resourceful, we can make things work even if we have limited resources. We make use of what’s available and are able to create beautiful work within the limitations,” designer Neric Beltran told Vogue Philippines. “Even if we are not technologically behind, we still create—with our hands, with our will, and with our passion.”
Photographs by Sharif Hamza. Fashion Director: Pam Quiñones. Styling: Melissa Levy. Makeup: Gery Peñaso. Hair: Mong Amado. Models: Jo Ann Bitagcol, Lukresia, Rina Fukushi. Nails: New Lounge PH. Art Director: Jann Pascua. Producer: Anz Hizon. Production Assistants: Bianca Zaragoza, Patricia Co. Photographer’s Assistants: Choi Narciso, JV Rabano, Tim Hoffman. Stylist’s Assistants: Neil De Guzman, Renee De Guzman. Makeup Assistant: Ejjay Salcedo. Hair Assistant: Jeremi Nuqui. Intern: Sophia Lanawan. Shot on location at Fundacion Pacita. Special thanks to Patsy Abad and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.
“Vogue Unbound” is an open-book display of Vogue Philippines’ first 365 days told through its covers. Photo by Daniel Tan
Vogue Philippines’ exploration of fashion, beauty, and culture has always been prefaced by adventure. In Kalinga, the crew made the strenuous climb up rice terraces to the tattoo village of Buscalan; in Siquijor, they waded in the waters of its mystic coastline; and in Batanes, for the September 2023 issue, traversed the steep, hilly terrain of the highlands, guided by the mysterious call of its winds. Last night, the first Vogue Philippines Anniversary Gala retraced these paths taken, inviting guests into a realm where tradition melds with visions of the future.
At Shangri-La The Fort, the evening began as stars descended on Vogue’s black carpet, dressed in their best interpretations of the theme “Refresh & Rewear.” Limited to the colors black and white, there was a clear emphasis on texture and a play on silhouette.
By the entrance, guests walked through a display of luxury furniture from Fendi Casa. Armchairs, sofas, side tables, and dining tables took on contemporary forms, rendered in shades of moss green and deep mahogany.
As dinner time rolled around, the already-mingling crowd trickled into the Shangri-La’s gilt-lined Bonifacio Hall, where a meticulously curated table setting awaited, featuring vivid blooms native to the Philippines curated by floral designer Nikki Chatto. The Manila String Machine began playing their arrangements, including springy renditions of “Viva La Vida” and “Wonderwall.” Once the mood was set, Vogue Philippines COO and publisher Rhoda Campos-Aldanese gave the evening’s opening remarks.
“We hope to educate, motivate, and guide our readers, providing a path to vision, purpose, and hope,” she said. “Together, we plant the seeds of a kinder, brighter community, anticipating the collective success that will flourish from our shared efforts.” Toward the end of her speech, she raised her glass. “Here’s to more years of inspiration, collaboration, and empowerment.”
Editor-in-chief Bea Valdes later took the stage, reflecting on the first 365 days of Vogue Philippines. “Through our platforms, we hoped to reframe fashion’s relationship with nature, to reconsider our connections with each other, and to celebrate the way we see ourselves,” she shared. “We have also learned of fashion, not as a noun but as a word of action: to fashion, to create. We have used it as a catalyst to uncover that common human thread.”
“Common threads” was the starting point for the Vogue Philippines Anniversary Gala, with the night woven together through sensory experiences dispersed throughout the event space. From dinner, guests surrendered to sight, smell, and sound in the fashion and art exhibition “Common Threads: Re/Creating Fashion.”
Journey of the Senses
The first sense to be tapped that evening was taste. Guests indulged in a six-hands dinner prepared by Chef Margarita Forés in collaboration with Shangri-La The Fort’s chefs Joris Rycken and Carlos Huerta, which featured key dishes from the Philippines’ three main islands Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
Later, guests were ushered from Bonifacio Hall to the foyer of the Grand Ballroom, where they were met with the display called “Vogue Unbound.” Past issues of Vogue Philippines—covered by Bretman Rock, Anne Curtis, and Apo Whang-Od—are larger-than-life, aptly sized to the weight of their impact.
The doors of the grand ballroom opened, and guests were immediately transported. The “Common Threads: Re/Creating Fashion” exhibition brought the September 2023 Issue and more to life through immersive experiences dispersed around the space. Scenographed by Gino Gonzales, they experienced the fashion, art, and natural wonders lifted in the magazine’s pages.
“There are many common threads in this exhibition. We bridge print with technology. Our magazines come alive in large-format sizes, artists use found objects to give single-use materials new life, the fashion and beauty editorials are reinterpreted through videos and live displays,” Mega Global Licensing Inc. president Suki Salvador explained. “We took these narratives even further by giving them a new form through multi-sensory pods by Moss Design House’s Cyndi Fernandez. We are always looking forward, and this exhibition would not be complete without creative director Vince Uy’s imaginary vision of what Vogue Philippines would look like 50 years from today.”
While visitors were invited to look back on heritage and tradition as chronicled in the issues, they left with hopeful visions for the future. All faded away before the Anniversary Issue cover was projected on the biggest screen in the space: a single image of Jo Ann Bitagcol, Lukresia, and Rina Fukushi in fashions high craft and homespun, shrouded in the glow of the Ivatan sun.
Head on over to https://vogue.ph/ for more Vogue Gala stories.