Two years after he first made waves in the international fashion scene with his stunning Central Saint Martins (CSM) BA Fashion Design graduation collection, Batangas-born fashion designer, Jessan Macatangay, brings another pride to the country by being the first Filipino designer to win the L’Oreal Professionnel Womenswear Creative Award. The said award is bestowed only to CSM’s MA Fashion Class graduates with the best collection. Past winners include: Kim Jones, Grace Wales Bonner, Christopher Kane, Mary Katrantzou, Molly Goddard, and Craig Green. This year’s judges include British Vogue’s Fashion Director, Julia Sarr-Jamois, Market Editor of WWD, Tianwei Zhang, and Fashion Features Director of I-D, Osman Ahmed.
For the uninitiated, CSM is the same art school that legendary designers Stella McCartney, John Galliano, and Alexander McQueen went to.
The said award is the second of international recognitions received by Macatangay for his work. In 2020, he took home the Gold Prize for the Yinger Prize Global Womenswear Emerging Talent Contest for Graduates by the Yinger Fashion Group. Pieces from his 2020 graduation collection were also worn by Maymay Entrata for her first MEGAStyle cover, and Nadine Lustre for her Wildest Dreams visual album. And in a recent photo shoot with L’Officiel Philippines, “The Broken Marriage Vow” actress Sue Ramirez sports some pieces from Batangas-born fashion designer.
Macatangay’s MA graduation collection, entitled Sculptural Sensuality, draws inspiration from the restrictive norm that hinders Filipinas from expressing their sensual side.
He shares, “In our country, where—even in 2022—85% of the population remains to be Roman Catholic, religion and tradition still play major roles in putting restraints on women, especially with how they dress. This is especially true in areas outside Metro Manila. I grew up in Batangas where the prevalent dress code is always modest and conservative. Batangenos are naturally religious people. So religious, in fact, that they allow their beliefs to heavily influence every aspect of their lives.”
“These outdated restrictions are not only thrown at regular women. From celebrities and influencers to models, Filipinas from all walks of life oftentimes find themselves being subjected to bashing, unnecessary judgment, and being told to cover up when they post photos of themselves wearing clothes that do not conform to conservative standards of generations past. In fact, growing up, I even saw women wear t-shirts over their bikinis while swimming just to cover up. This is where my project started—from the fear and discomfort of showing skin. Could there be a way to make women let go of this fear?”
Sculptural Sensuality is composed of eight pieces in total—six of which made it to Macatangay’s MA Fashion Show. For each piece, Macatangay combined various types of jerseys that he stretched using wired frames to mimic a swimsuit’s outline. And the results are nothing short of amazing. Clean lines and silhouettes that accentuate the wearer’s body in colors that border between bold and muted. The collection itself is very feminine and sensual yet avant-garde.
The way that Macatangay manipulated his chosen fabric to bring out the exact shades and shapes he want proves the level of his craftsmanship as well as his attention to detail.
“This collection is about making society realize that a woman is more than her body. Clothes exist to accentuate the feminine figure and showcase it in its most lustrous light. I really want to create pieces for women who adore sensuality without fearing sexuality; and for women who long to relax on the beach with her swimsuit, legs and arms sun-kissed, and exposed for all the world to adore (not judge). She does not want to cover up with a t-shirt while on the beach. She wants to be free.”
This year’s Central Saint Martins MA Graduation show marks the much-awaited event’s return to the catwalk since the breakout of the Covid-19 pandemic. To know more about Macatangay, you may follow his Instagram account @jessanmacatangay or visit www.jessanmacatangay.com.