Designer to the stars, Anthony Ramirez re-imagines La Union’s traditional Abel Iloco fabric into red-carpet worthy creations.
Especially in this country where bayanihan has been part of both our vocabulary and values, community will always be part of being a Filipino. But during the pandemic, the spirit of bayanihan has become front and center. From village Viber groups to the global community trying to help each other in fighting the virus, suddenly we look at our own neighbors to help us survive. This community building encouraged home cooks and bakers to finally pursue their entrepreneurship dreams while the rest choose to support them fully embodying the words #LoveLocal. For designer Anthony Ramirez his love goes much deeper as he chooses to support the local weavers of La Union through a collection that features the regions’s Abel Iloco fabric.
Also known as Inabel, the Abel Iloco fabric is a woven fabric that originates from the weavers of the norther region of Luzon. Made from cotton and has the ability to look exceptional in both plain and patterned pieces, Abel Iloco is loved because of its softness, strength, and of course, its intricate designs. Through hardwool pedal looms weavers use different techniques to achieve different patterns that serve folkloric ideologies like the binakul pattern that is believed to ward off evil spirits because of its dizzying pattern.
This rich tapestry and beautiful weaves is what ultimately attracted Ramirez when he was offered by the city government of La Union to create a collection using the local fabric. “The idea was to showcase the material to embody a global appeal and to encourage local designers to use the fabric in a modern way apart from just the traditional Filipiniana. And I really like the fabric because it reminds me of the rich textures of brocade but is much more comfortable” he shares.
Working closely with the local weavers, Ramirez’s team created a pattern that is reminiscent of Chanel’s iconic tweeds. Paired with Ramirez’s timeless cuts and designs, one can easily walk a gala, feel confident and comfortable at the same time. Both black and white versions of the fabric was inlayed with metallic threads that makes the whole look glimmer when the light suddenly hits it. Ramirez also incorporated his expertise in constructing corsets to add both sensuality and modernity to all the pieces. With layers of tulle and luxurious feathers, the Abel Iloco gowns by Ramirez fully reflected the history of the fabric and its potential to become a global fabric for modern formal wear.
“Abel Iloco has so much potential because of it’s beauty and history” Ramirez says. And it is designers like Ramirez who have mastered construction and has a mind for innovation who can take these traditional crafts to the center stage of the global fashion arena. For Ramirez it wasn’t just important create new designs but also to help create a community of designers who fully and thoughtfully give importance to Filipino traditions thus helping not only weaving communities but also the over all design identity of the country.