Prancing, romancing: Kaayo, Jun Escario, and Rene Salud’s sartorial sway

DusitD2 Davao recently mounted a fashion show called ‘Archipelago’ to support two children’s charities.

Picture this: the quintessential image of Maria Clara, the abundant flair of the ternoand barong tagalog, a crystal chandelier atop a grand ballroom, and jovial spirits and stories shared with glasses of wine against the backdrop of vigorous music.

February, the month of hearts, opened in the same vein for DusitD2 Davao. Last February 3, 2024, the resort held a charity fashion gala entitled “Archipelago,” co-presented by Torre Lorenzo Development Corporation and Emilia Sitjar Jewelry, to support the SOS Children’s Village Davao and Field of Dreams Children’s Charity Foundation.

Archipelago fashion show: Renee Salud’s “Cosmopolitan Manila” theme using Thai silk
Renee Salud’s “Cosmopolitan Manila” theme using Thai silk

“Archipelago” brought together Filipino creatives whose designs represented the different regions of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, and diversified the semblance of fashion in the country. The evening opened with the effortless, black-and-white silhouettes of Jun Escario from Visayas, followed by the marriage of Mindanao’s native textile patterns and the traditional terno in Mary Ann Montemayor of Kaayo Modern Mindanao’s collection, and the vibrant silk and maximalist shapes that brought to life the bejeweled creations of Emilia Sitjar Jewellery of Mindanao. The affair fittingly concluded with Rene Salud’s romantic ensembles.

Fondly called “Mama Rene,” Salud shares her insights into the threads that bind her collection. “My portion is Cosmopolitan Manila, so I used a lot of Thai silk.”

Salud had previously exhibited her collection in a show in Thailand. Over time, the designer expanded her line with more and more pieces to fit her body of work. “I had it shown at Dusit Thani Manila, organized by the Young Beauties charity event. I had a lot of big skirts, and was inspired by the Valentino collection in Milan.”

Archipelago fashion show: Kaayo Modern Mindanao
Kaayo Modern Mindanao
Archipelago fashion show: Kaayo modern mindanao

Mama Rene’s collection is characterized by her avid love of ruffles and flowers, an anamnesis of Philippine history put in the present by the ever-changing trends on the runway, and her futuristic use of fabrics that translate into her transformative depictions of the terno.

The household-name fashion designer puts emphasis on why Thai silk has an important place in her collection. “It works well with the idea of my design. The satin finish of the Thai silk reminds me of those gowns worn during the rigodon de honor and kahirup balls before.” These were the balls held in the past where affluent ladies wore fine silk and satin from all over the world.

“Silk was one of their favorite fabrics,” the couturier points out. “They were used by designers who were ahead of me that reminds me of the grandiose past of the ‘50s.”

The haute couture artist’s metropolitan vision is revealed in the details and personalities of her gowns. “My styling here is very young, very new,” Rene explains. “It conforms to what’s happening in the fashion world with beaded skirts and pants. I used a lot of ruffles and a lot of flounces.”

Archipelago fashion show: Jun Escario
Jun Escario

While the designer took cue from some ideas on international runways, she nevertheless strived to contour and recognize some Filipino sensibilities. “When you say romantic, we’re talking Maria Clara, the terno. And that makes it very Filipino,” Salud explains. “Even in the clothes of Valentino, you can see some Filipino styling in his clothing; in his designs, like the barong tagalog. He made use of that design in one of his collections. Puff sleeves become terno sleeves, making it very Filipino.”

Through her work, Mama Rene endeavors to show how there is much more to be borne out of letting the past take new form on the global stage. As the haute couture designer puts it, “Filipino styling is not only limited to a certain kind of fabric. All kinds of fabrics can be utilized.”

In an amalgam of influences, Rene Salud demonstrates how much of who we are can be informed in the things we create.

The new lifestyle.