Best of both worlds: A fashion show that combines elements of Filipino and Dutch fashion

Well, here’s a sound piece of advice: you don’t really need to travel far to learn something new. A quick break from your everyday routine is enough to get a fresh perspective. But it’s also not every day that a fashion exchange program takes you halfway across the world for a one-of-a-kind cultural immersion. What happens then? You might just end up with a set of new friends, techniques and innovative ideas for a fusion collection.

Last Oct. 27, six young Filipino and Dutch fashion designers showcased their unique 18-piece collaborative collection at the final show for the Manila Fashion Festival Now. This year marks the 65th year of diplomatic bilateral relations and 150th year of consular ties between the Netherlands and Philippines. As they aim towards building a stronger friendship, they tap into the fashion industry to foster a culture of innovation. “This collaboration between the talented fashion designers from the Philippines and the Netherlands provides an amazing opportunity to pave the way for sustainable fashion to be woven into the future of design,” said Netherlands Ambassador to the Philippines Marion Derckx.


Top left – Keep it whimsy: Damaris Chua’s collection is inspired by fairy tales.; top right – Stop and stare: Jeepney art can be seen in the designs of Zena Ankersmit.; left – Mix and match: Loes van Nijnatten puts together different prints.

As a celebration of the great Filipino-Dutch friendship, Filipino fashion designers Damaris Chua, Riza Bulawan and Nina Gatan, along with Dutch fashion designers Zena Ankersmit, Loes van Nijnatten and Britta Bentele, went on a three-phase exchange program. They were able to attend a series of lectures and master classes in both countries. Besides the workshops, they were also able to fully experience the fashion culture by attending Amsterdam Fashion Week and even visiting embroidery centers in Tagaytay and Lumban, Quezon. And what would an immersion in Philippine fashion be without sourcing fabrics in Divisoria amid all its chaos?

On the runway, what the designers showcased were skillfully constructed garments and even more beautiful stories of coming together. The program doesn’t aim to homogenize the style of the six designers. In fact, it highlights their unique personalities. The thing about getting inspiration from your travels is that you not only learn about another culture; it reminds you so much of your own, too. With the way the designs successfully came together, it’s easy to see that the relationship between the Philippines and the Netherlands is even more interwoven than ever.

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