The Filipiniana gown has come a long way from its traditional and stiff design. Now you can find modern designs that are not only fashionable but also comfortable. This style has become the top choice of a fashion statement for many local personalities because of its classic silhouette and timeless elegance.
Every girl or boy from the Philippines is familiar with this design. You may have found pictures of your grandparents rocking these outfits or you may have worn something similar as a child during a play or an event. It’s a comforting design that takes you back in time, to a much more culturally different era. Regardless, a Filipiniana gown is supposed to embody the natural beauty of a young Filipina. It’s meant to be the ideal image of a society in the past. But now, women are enjoying the freedom to be able to express themselves with their style choices. It gives women a chance to make a statement through the use of clothing. It’s one of the amazing things about fashion and design. Your message can be loud and clear, full of heart and passion.
The movement towards the modernization of this design has made it more accessible for the youth to enjoy. Before the modern Filipiniana, a Filipiniana gown was considered as a costume piece for production, but now ladies can enjoy the gown during their special events and formal gatherings. It drives a style revolution unlike any other. Wearing a gown of any form makes any woman feel like a princess or, at least it gives them a spark of confidence. It’s a simple change that brings out the inner beauty of anyone, simply because they’re wearing something that makes them feel beautiful. That’s the power of clothing. It can fully transform your energy and the overall vibe you want to project.
Look deeper at the meaning of a Filipiniana gown. It has a different meaning entirely, in the past. There is a history that delves deep into how society was. Thankfully, the movement towards modernization has helped these historical connotations change for the better. But to better understand why this happened, we’ll first dive into the origins of the Filipiniana gown.
The Filipiniana gown is a formal outfit for women. It was only worn by mestizas during the Spanish colonial period as it combines the elements of both indigenous and Spanish designs. This formal outfit was popular during the Philippine-Spanish colonial era, especially in the 1890s.
Maria Clara is a character and heroine in the novel Noli Me Tangere written by Philippine national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. Maria Clara is symbolized as the virtue and nobility that makes up a Filipina woman. The Maria Clara originated from the baro’t saya of the early Filipinos. It consisted of a loose long-sleeved blouse placed over a wide, ankle-length skirt. The Maria Clara has four pieces to complete the ensemble. It includes the baro/camisa, the saya, the panuelo, and the tapis.
The baro/camisa is a collarless blouse that falls by the waist with a wrist-length, embroidered free-flowing bell sleeves, which are made from pineapple fiber. The sleeves are wider and bell-shaped in order to accommodate the hot climate of the country.
The saya is a long bubble shaped skirt. Compared to the previous incarnation of the saya, the Maria Clara is wider, flared, and billowy in nature. Various saya styles and cuts became popular in various regions in the Philippines. The most popular saya is the “panelled saya”. This saya has strong contrasting colors or coordinating colors that are sewn in an alternate pattern in the balloon of the skirt. The combinations of colors you can find are usually black and white or black and red.
The panuelo is the only Spanish influence that is kept in the Maria Clara outfit. It’s a wide triangular scarf covering the back. It can be fastened in the front with fashionable gold brooches and pins. This was used to add modesty as the camisa is low necked. The fabrics for the panuelo are usually piña or jusi.
The Maria Clara also has an overskirt called the tapis. It’s another modesty piece to keep the lower torso from being exposed. To preserve the modesty of the woman, opaque muslins were used as the main material of the overskirt.
As discussed earlier, there are modest parts of the typical Maria Clara and Filipiniana gown. At the time, many Filipinos faced various struggles that shaped the way the revolution turned out today. There is a practical reason for the usage of the material and sheerness. The weather was the main reason why sheerness was used. The piña fabric allowed for the air to flow evenly. It was simply too hot to use thick fabrics in this country.
But in reality, these clothing designs were used to separate and marginalize the Filipinos from the Spaniards. They wanted to make sure all Filipinos have a distinct style that can easily separate them and divide them into social classes. It’s simply hard to sugar coat what the Filipino people experienced.
Even if you can say that Maria Clara, as a character, was a symbol of the purity and dignity of the Filipina, women are more than this. Women are more than just a stereotype. Maria Clara is a beautiful symbol but that’s not all that there is to it. Women in the modern world can do more and surpass the preconceived stereotypes. The modernization of the Filipiniana gown has turned the stereotype around and converted it into a symbol of power.
The sleeves of the Maria Clara were then replaced with a much more structured butterfly sleeve. The terno dress came to be. In the 1950s, many female actresses wore ternos for special events. The actresses looked absolutely amazing and renewed their sense of elegance and beauty that traditional dresses were always meant to have.
Imelda Marcos was the woman who made the strong sleeves a symbol of opulence at the time. Designers all over the world wanted to design the perfect terno for her. Instead of a crown, Imelda wore her terno and her shoes. The appeal of the terno sadly disappeared after the first People Power revolution. The terno dress brought about negative feelings and memories people wanted to move on from.
Filipino designers work hard to revive the beauty of the terno dress. They wanted to bring back their image of power without negative memories, only pivoting forward to a more fashion-oriented evolution. Any woman can now enjoy the power of a good sleeve, walking with confidence, truly looking their best.
It’s no secret that clothing is a tactile experience. If you know that you’re wearing something you love that makes you feel confident and beautiful, made with only the best materials the fashion market offers.
All garments are made with different materials. In particular, a Filipiniana gown can be made from organza, jusi, piña, and more. All materials have different levels of quality, softness, opaqueness, thickness, and pricing.
The most cost-effective material is organza. This is a sheer transparent material that’s a mix of silk and polyester. This material usually offers the lowest priced garments you can find in the market. On some occasions, the finish can be shiny. This material is perfect for stage work or special events. However, if you’re a wedding guest, you might not enjoy the sheen it gives off. You don’t have to invest much money in this material, so it’s great for once in a lifetime events if you’re on a budget.
For the refined and classic individual, the jusi material is also a budget-friendly option. It’s a type of silk that is softer and opaque compared to organza but is still significantly more affordable than piña fabric. You can find a variety of styles and colors with the jusi fabric.
The piña material is the most meticulously made fabric that’s made by expert local artisans that use weaving traditional weaving techniques and European hand-embroidery methods. This is one of the hardest materials to make and the feel of the material is like no other. The fine material is expensive but is absolutely worth it especially if you’re in need of the highest quality materials for your garments.
Nowadays you can enjoy your Filipiniana gown in a variety of fashion-forward textiles. Designers can achieve various effects and silhouettes that can complement a multitude of body types. The price range is also more friendly and accessible to more people because of the evolution that the textile industry achieved. More materials are better and cheaper, allowing more designers to be more creative with how they use the textiles.
More brands are gearing towards bringing back the dignity and respect that a Filipinana gown and a Filipiniana barong promise to give. Race and gender are no longer limitations that designers use as a reference. They want to make every customer feel like they’re part of the bigger picture. The bigger picture is a world that is more accepting, open, and hopeful.
The road to modernizing traditional Filipiniana clothing is a long one. Traditional silhouettes were an oddity. You won’t find many people incorporating these pieces with everyday wear or office fashion. Now designers are working their best to help incorporate these iconic shapes for daily wear. It’s a bold move that is risky but the end result is a fashion forward, yet traditional look. It combines elements of the past with features of the future. It’s a unique blend of time and space that anyone can enjoy.
Anyone can achieve a sophisticated look without going over the top with the combined elements. Like other fashion brands abroad, Filipino designers are honoring their past, culture, and history by creating an homage to the days of the old. Modernization is the smartest move any traditional designer can make. Modern women require modern pieces to keep up with the ever-changing times and ever-changing fashion trends. A trend that will never die is style. Your clothing should be worn and they shouldn’t wear you out.
Focusing and moving away from negative connotations and memories of previous incarnations of Filipina clothing brings back the golden age of fashion. Where it was all about putting out your best, not about hiding or being modest. Each woman has a different point of view when it comes to style, thus the modernization of this gown can be a perfect fit for the diverse population of various modern personalities. You can put on any type of fashion that you please. That is the whole point of modernizing Filipiniana clothing.
Tygie is a revolutionary homegrown brand that wants to show the fashion world that the Filipiniana gown is more than just a costume. Teodora Gonzales is the brainchild behind the expert branding of Tygie. Tygie aims to integrate traditional Filipiniana clothing and work well with the modern pieces women already have in their closets today. It’s a fashion-forward movement that blends traditional clothing and modern pieces into one elegant and stylish brand.
Tygie was founded in the 1970s. Teodora Gonzales had an inherent eye for fashion and talent from sewing. She would often hang out at her uncle’s tailoring shop and grab scrap pieces that she would then sew together. Her talent was noticed and since then she learned how to use the sewing machine under the tutelage of her uncle. They usually made office uniforms while Teodora offered Filipiniana clothing on the side. She showed her tenacity as a tailor and designer, which then helped build a network of loyal clients that showed a keen interest in Filipiniana clothing.
Their 50th anniversary will be celebrated in 2020. Truly a milestone for any homegrown brand. You can find two unique styles from Tygie. Filipina Wear is a strategic breakdown of terno pieces that anyone can wear on a daily basis. Heirloom from Tygie is the style for you if you’re looking for unique, once-in-a-lifetime event outfits with timeless elements. Heirloom is meant to be passed on to loved ones for future generations. It’s a gift to yourself and your future.
Are you interested in achieving the perfect mix of traditional and modern style? Click here to get started on your new journey into modernized traditional fashion.
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