Cary Santiago Presents an Homage to Filipino Symbols in TernoCon 2024

Cary Santiago Presents an Homage to Filipino Symbols in TernoCon 2024


Cary Santiago wove a tapestry of cultural, sartorial splendor with his collection Ikonograpiya ng Filipinas at the TernoCon KKK

The Cultural Center of the Philippines and BENCH’s TernoCon KKK played host to the grand exhibition of Filipino fashion last night at Museo del Galeón. Designer extraordinaire Cary Santiago crafted a lavish spectacle with Ikonograpiya ng Filipinas, an enthralling display of scintillating silhouettes and a grand visual feast of the Filipino customs and ways of life.

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Cary’s collection honors the iconic Philippine symbols

In 2008, Cary emerged victorious in the MEGA Young Designers Competition, the breeding ground for innovative ideas, potential ability, and raw local talent. Since then, the designer’s rapid ascent underscores his steadfast dedication to excellence and his ceaseless search for innovative ideas. His creations were also featured at the Philippine Terno Gala in his hometown in Cebu last March. Now, at TernoCon 2024, Cary continues to stir up fashion discussion with his remarkable repertoire. 

In Ikonograpiya ng Filipinas, the Filipino fashion maestro threads an account with Philippine symbols conceived into an extraordinary nature of haute fashion. As clothes are markers of visual culture, Cary presented voluminous frocks in the country’s colors: rich blues, yellows, reds, and whites—in intricate and imposing appliqué. 

The carabao is etched onto the fabric with of the terno

Cary’s collection is a panegyric on the codes of Filipino identity. Self-admittedly, this is his most challenging body of work as he prefers the comfort of muted tones, but his stellar and vibrant iterations of the terno, balintawak, and kimona are a testament to his tenacious and exploratory craftsmanship. The Visayas designer used intention and unbound imagination to create garments that transcend conventional notions of form and shape. His couture work includes extremely sculptural and laser-cut objects, calling for intricate iterations—the jeepney, sampaguita, anahaw leaf, the mangga, Philippine eagle, the carabao, and national hero Jose Rizal. These images and icons were shaped into dramatic forms with precision pleating and meticulous handiwork. 

The mangga, the golden fruit of the Philippines, takes the spotlight in this warm number

The couturier’s creations are an assemblage of Philippine icons in fantastical interpretations. While the pieces were grandiloquent and novel, there was a coherence to the meshed avant-garde design and the classic terno silhouettes. The Catholic culture of the Philippines is reworked into a deep azure number that features a religious emblem and capiz windows opening and closing at the hem, symbolic of the Spanish influence in the Filipino aesthetic. The bahay kubo’s lines were sewn onto the fabric in both a cultural and architectural approach—the rectangular forms of the roofs and windows, and the lightweight structure traditionally made of wood and bamboo were handcrafted excellently—the perfect picture of the traditional Filipino abode. The vibrant yellow saranggola piece morphs the fabric into rigid, straightforward geometric and streamlined details, reminiscent of the Filipino favorite hobby of kite-flying.

Philippines’ rich religious culture is presented in this number
The bahay kubo
The saranggola

“The TernoCon is a good venue not only for myself but also for my fellow designers in this batch,” Cary tells MEGA. “Usually, we’re dictated by clients as to what to produce. Now, the TernoCon is our stage to present what is inside our hearts and minds. You create pieces that can be worn and are artful at the same time—which is why it’s important for us designers.”

At his show, he also set the stage for a cultural experience with the 1992 song Mamang Sorbetero playing in the background; the additional ice cream bells in the track are nostalgic of a day spent strolling through the streets of the country. Miss Universe Philippines 2023 Michelle Dee closed the show in an ensemble that honors our national anthem, with a quill and lyrics embroidered onto the skirt of the traditional national garment. The beauty queen has always championed the work of the Filipino designer, and wearing Cary Santiago for TernoCon 2024 was another tribute to the local and excellent Filipino talent.

Beauty queen Michelle Dee closes Cary Santiago’s show in an ensemble that honors our Filipino national anthem

The collection, Cary elaborates, harks to the motifs of Philippine symbolism in its ornamental and dramatic style in the timeless terno.

Photographed by EXCEL PANLAQUE

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