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September 08, 2017

Talking Ikat With Philippines’ Alfonso Guinoo

Text by Sharmi Ghosh Dastidar

“From the place I come, people, especially the simple village folk love to weave”

You will be filled with wonder when you discover that behind Alfonso Guinoo’s diminutive frame and reticent body language hides a flamboyant design acumen. Most of the national costumes donned by the participants of Philippines at international pageants have been designed by him for years now. Having been part of the textile industry for more than 40 years, Guinoo is a revered name in the world of Ikat. His initiatives to take the age-old woven craft of Philippines Ikat to global shores arose from his knack to work and experiment with ethnic and tribal handloom techniques of the weave in his homeland. Says the virtuoso, “In Philippines, we work with banana fibre to create fabrics and textiles. This is something indigenous to my land and is not practised anywhere else in the country. That is what makes us stand out.”

The Ikat weave in the Philippines, as explained by the veteran designer, is bold yet intricate and stands out for its use of tribal motifs and colours. “From the place I come, people, especially the simple village folk love to weave. The Ifugao tribes and other ethnic groups in Mindanao employ Ikat techniques to produce their celebrated tapestries. Even in the clothes I make you get to see such patterns, which I enhance further with surface embellishments and accessories when it comes to costumes,” Guinoo relates.

There is a love that the people in the designer’s land display for the traditional ikat. That he has stuck to his craft and taken it to greater heights is because his clothes have takers in his country. “While the foundation of my clothes is based on the ikat weave, I simplify the design with sharp silhouettes and colours. This way they become more wearable,” he finishes.

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