John Ablaza’s Le Petite Couture dazzle Fora Mall Tagaytay opening

How could they be so tiny yet so detailed and elegant and gorgeous?

Thirteen exquisitely made gowns, mounted on 23-inch inch mannequins, recently dazzled the guests at the opening of Fora Mall, Filinvest’s latest commercial development in Tagaytay City.


Internationally-acclaimed Filipino ‘eco-fashion designer’ John Ablaza

The gowns are a vision of the artistic amplitudes and creative journey of internationally-renowned Filipino designer John Ablaza, who is known for his use of structured lines and patterns derived from nature in his designs.

Ablaza this year celebrated his three-decade run in the fashion industry with creations that come in small packages in a collection called Le Petite Couture.

Named after ramp diva and fashion icon Tina Maristela Ocampo, the Celestina evening gown is a red showstopper featuring a beaded bodice and skirt layered with ruffled vintage laces.
This vision of a classic beauty is named after John Ablaza’s manager for international affairs and dear friend Claris Manglicmot. This glittering Filipiniana gown is studded with beads and dons three accent stones.

Named after the women who have made a mark in Ablaza’s life as a fashion designer, each piece in the collection received as much thought and planning and detailing that Ablaza would give to a life-sized gown. Painstakingly handmade and carefully sewn, it took Ablaza 100 days to complete the 30-piece collection.

Josephine Gotianun-Yap, President and CEO of Filinvest Development Corp., acknowledges during the opening the lifestyle trends retail malls and commercial spaces are now embracing, and Fora Mall is leading the way.

“Gone are the days when the runways and boutiques are the only places for the creations of our local Filipino designers,” said Josephine Gotianun-Yap, President and CEO of Filinvest Development Corp. “Today, we envision Fora Mall as a venue to meet passions for the arts, fashion, trends, and most especially, upholding our most cherished values as a community. Hence, this collaboration with John Ablaza.”

Ablaza’s take on the classic ‘Maria Clara’ Filipiniana dress, Sencia, which is named after his dear grandmother, is a black gown embellished with sequins and a satin wrap. Accompanying the dress is a rosary for his religious grandmother.
Simple and sophisticated, this deep red number made with vintage laces is named after Iris Fernan Arcenas—owner of Ferimar Import-Export in Cebu. Ablaza notes that it was in Ferimar that he discovered the beauty of using natural and sustainable materials in his designs.

Fresh from three separate exhibits in New York, the one-of-a-kind gowns from the collection are the perfect blend of sustainability and glamour, brought to life by Filipino craftsmanship and artistry.

From spirited and vibrant colors to muted neutrals and formal blacks, Le Petite is the ultimate showcase of couture and culture. Ablaza featured his take on the traditional Filipino clothing for women with the black terno and baro’t saya, both studded with glittering beads, sequins, and adorned with rhinestones.

Breathing femininity and elegance, this black Swiss organza gown dons floral accents and rhinestones on its bodice and a woven overlay on the skirt. It is named after the very dynamic Joy Polloso who shares Ablaza’s passion for fashion as well as his advocacies.
Named after Ablaza’s daughter Krizia, this fresh and modern piece is made with jusi, a delicate Philippine fabric made with silk and vegetable fibers.

The collection also sampled designs inspired by Zimbabwean fashion which Ablaza picked up from his time working with artisans and doing workshops for aspiring designers in the country under the invitation of the United States Embassy in Harare.

The petite collection also pushes forth Ablaza’s eco-fashion advocacy through natural and sustainable materials sourced from and made in collaboration with artisans from Manila, Cebu, Bohol, and Zimbabwe.

“I create my designs considering the environment in mind and try to use natural materials that we have in abundance,” said Ablaza, who first found his love for nature during his childhood years in his grandmother’s garden.

This captivating ivory beauty is named after international top model Teta Agustin—a favorite model of Yves Saint Laurent and Givenchy. A vision of opulence, the bodice of the gown is studded with shimmering beads and a rhinestone accent while the skirt features an ornate floral embroidery and beadwork.

From sewing together sampaguita buds with his lola, Ablaza now uses coco beads, coco shells, tree barks, reed grass, and abaca fibers for his intricate handmade creations.

Rebecca, which is named after Ablaza’s sister and Philippine operations manager, is a crisp artichoke green gown featuring a deep plunging neckline, a sequined silver belt, and a woven overlay.
Named after Mayette De Dios, Ablaza’s good friend and host in New York, this asparagus green and black satin gown features woven overlay on the skirt and an embroidered leaf border.

“I don’t think I have made my mark in terms of convincing people to go green in fashion but I am doing what I can to spread the word about sustainability while showcasing Filipino ingenuity through my shows and exhibit.”

A reflection of the dichotomy in Ablaza’s designs—the neutrals and the brightly colored pieces—Lucia presents a stark contrast between the beaded black bodice and the bold blue skirt. This gown is named after his mother who he credits for his artistic abilities.
Named after Ablaza’s sister who served as his support during his early years as a designer, Miriam is a display of Filipino culture with rows of wooden beads made by Filipino artisans.

More than making a positive impact on the environment, Ablaza also helps the communities by creating economic opportunities for the communities he collaborates with.

Working extensively with the Mangyan tribe in the Philippines, Ablaza comes up with new ideas to use native materials in his designs while the locals grow, carve, or polish the bits and pieces.“I like to believe that I am helping Mother Nature, at the same time, creating livelihood for the people,” he said.

Le Petite Couture will be at Fora Mall from Dec. 8 to 27 and will move to Filinvest’s Festival Mall in Alabang until Jan. 8.

Breathing femininity and elegance, this black Swiss organza gown dons floral accents and rhinestones on its bodice and a woven overlay on the skirt. It is named after the very dynamic Joy Polloso who shares Ablaza’s passion for fashion as well as his advocacies.
A bright purple gown with a floral wraparound, Hilda is named after Ablaza’s master cutter who helped create the 30-piece Le Petite Couture collection.

The Fora Mall is a Filinvest Lifemall and part of the Fora Tagaytay mixed-use development by Filinvest, which will be composed of three main districts. Aside from the newly opened commercial block, there will be two eight-story condominiums and two 10-storey condotels with a shared infinity pool, trade hall, and meeting rooms, to be operated by Filinvest Hotels Inc. through the Quest Hotel brand. The development will also feature a forest-themed garden around the amphitheater, making it an ideal location for special events like weddings and parties.

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