Fashion Week in the Philippines Condemns Human Trafficking

Events, Things to Do, What's New — By sunshine on May 16, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Fashion Week can serve another purpose…

It’s Philippine Fashion Week and the media is buzzing with news of the latest fashion events. I have been to many events where the Filipino love for “dressing up” in the latest styles is more than evident, but last week I did something I had never done: I attended a fashion show of local designers. Fashion Week took place from May 8-15th and consisted of shows featuring over 75 Philippine-based designers.

The 45-minute show I attended was held in two function rooms at the SMX Convention Center in the Mall of Asia complex and featured five designers: Kristel Yulo, Michele Sison, Philipp Tampus, Ralph Ng, and Roland Lirio. As over 500 chic fashionistas and media from all walks of life eagerly awaited the lights to go down, the room was buzzing with anticipation. I took my place in the sixth row of seats, close enough to see the clothing but far back enough to be able to see the whole scene unfold.

While an army of photographers snapped away, Filipina and Eurasian models of varying sizes glided down the lemon yellow colored runway, to a mix of songs that ranged from soulful to “loungy” to energizing. I loved the fact that the music was enough to move you but not overpower the runway.

Michele Sison outfit and Jun Jun Ablaza accessories during Philippine fashion week

The Holiday Collection featured men and women’s clothing, from casual “beach chic” outfits to dinner wear to cocktail dresses. There really was a bit of everything; the flowing mixed with fitted, the matte joined together with metallic, sequins met feathers. And while some super short dresses were things I would only dream of wearing, many others were pieces I could easily imagine myself buying.

Kristel Yulo’s designs in particular were very wearable and many of her outfits were in what I call “shiny neutrals” — a nice variation on colors such as gold, taupe, and grey, which I find very friendly to the hot tropical climate of the Philippines.

Philippine Fashion Week-Michele Sison shorts and JunJun Abalza peacock feathers

Other designers like Michele Sison gravitated towards the fantastical and exotic, highlighted by the bare-chested men who strutted in wearing headdresses of peacock, parrot, and pheasant feathers. Her collection had lots of red combined with zebra stripes, florals, and deep orange and gold.

Philippine Fashion Week-Michele Sison zebra and flowered dress and Accesories by Jun Jun Abaza

I always love it when different industries get involved in humanitarian efforts and perhaps the biggest treat for me was the surprise video shown before the fashion show began. Human trafficking is a huge problem in the Philippines and one that many groups have been trying to bring to public attention. This modern day slave trade involves 27 million victims and the Philippines is one of the top three countries where victims come from.

As prevention and awareness are half the battle, Katie Ford of Ford model agency has created an Anti Human Trafficking PSA, where Filipino models and Katie Ford herself are speaking out to raise awareness of the issue. They warn  people to be on guard against fake recruiters and provide a hotline for help. I hope I will be seeing this very effective PSA on TV and in movie theaters throughout the Philippines!

To learn more about how to help anti-human trafficking efforts in the Philippines, go to :

Tags: fashion week, Ford model agency, human-trafficking, Jun Jun Ablaza, Katie Ford, Kristel Yulo, Michele Sison, Philipp Tampus, Philippine fashion, Public Service Announcements, Ralph Ng, Roland Lirio, Visayan Forum