A showy, flowy fashion event

An explosion of reds. Photo: Nieva Quezon Burdick

By Marissa Bañez

Five years ago, The FilAm interviewed designer Leonard Co, in which he described his Filipiniana designs as “more and more,” and “fully loaded.”

Five years later, in a fashion show on November 18, 2023, that can only be described as an “extravaganza” in every sense of the word, Co delivered even more…and more.

The show began with an explosion of red dresses modeled and personally chosen by women community leaders, tempered by the black and silver shirts worn by their male counterparts.

Leaders of the community proudly wear their Leonard Cos. Photos by Marissa Banez
Francis Sison of Garden State Filipino American Association, Inc. with wife Evelyn Sison
Designer Leonard Co

The next segment, appropriately dubbed “The Jewels” by celebrity stylist-cum-emcee Erno John Hormillosa, featured heavily bejeweled and vividly colored gowns that ranged from the fanciful to the fabulous, complemented by similarly hued and intricately embroidered shirts worn by the men. The final segment, which Mr. Hormillosa said was his “gift” to the audience, featured six professional male and female models. The women wore more contemporary styles featuring knee-length white dresses and pastel flowy gowns while the men wore silver and ecru shirts with exquisite geometric and architectural embroidery, nicely updating, modernizing and, ultimately, elevating the traditional Barong Tagalog. The show effectively demonstrated Co’s breadth in conceptualizing, designing, and executing his vision.

The Garden State Filipino American Association, Inc., under the leadership of Francis Sison, sponsored the event at the Philippine Center in New York City, and the singing group TOFA serenaded the audience with its rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”.

Hormillosa, who wore a Uniqlo T-shirt with his bespoke tuxedo, gave his professional advice as a stylist on being a “fashionista”: “Have fun.”

And, as the models – ages 7 to 97 – sashayed with the biggest smiles on their faces, it was clear they and all the would-be fashionistas in the audience took his advice to heart.

The professional models showcase more understated designs.

(C) The FilAm 2023

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