Take five at ArteFino Festival

W hen it comes to a bazaar featuring the excellent skills and creativity of Filipino artisans, nothing beats ArteFino, the first fair of its kind (started in 2017), the longest duration (now at five weeks) and the most number of brands (150+).

Each purchase pays homage to the narratives of imagination and excellence behind the showcased products.

Mark Caro Wilson with his ‘minimal parols’.

The ArteFino Festival opened 25 August and runs till 28 September at Power Plant Mall in Rockwell, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends.

Here are five stand out Daily Tribune finds — and the artisans behind them — to help jumpstart your way through this all-Filipino shopping adventure.

FARAH Abu and her sea-inspired statement earrings and bags.

1 Jill Lao
For the busy modern woman, Jill Lao’s coordinates are perfect for
9-to-5-and-beyond work and socials.

“It’s all about easy elegance,” says the Parson School of Design graduate. “Whether she’s a mom or a businesswoman, these clothes have go in all these to all events and have to be comfortable.”

Connie Macatuno (in photo, left) of Lokal.

On offer are versatile dresses that can be worn on their own, or underneath a top or trousers — practically any way one wants to wear them. Among Lao’s bestsellers are organza separates with shell buttons, which spell luxury amid the dailiness of living.

2 Parols by Caro Wilson
Mark Wilson, a Fil-American trained in interior design and architecture, debuted his Christmas ornaments in 2021 at The Pen hotel’s lobby. “I just made the collection without knowing if people would appreciate a designer parol with very minimal design,” says Wilson.

Oh, but his humble but well-made products using sustainable materials like bamboo, abaca and capiz were very much appreciated by people returning to The Pen lobby to quietly celebrate the season.

VERSATILE and comfortably stylish womenswear by Jill Lao.

“Christmas is my favorite time of the year,” says Wilson. “But of course, it was very depressing when the pandemic happened and two Christmases passed. The question was, will we ever get out of it? I felt we just needed a sign of hope.

And then I just did the parol.”

3 Tagpi by Gabriel Garcia
“Classic tropical staples” is how 21-year-old designer Gabriel Garcia describes his brand, Tagpi. What started as a passion project two years ago for this Life Sciences grad from Ateneo has turned into a
full-time enterprise.

“At that time, I wanted to find a way to document artisans and help them as well during the pandemic,” says Garcia. Thus was born his wearable hand-embroidered and hand-painted barong and linen tops, created with his modern touch.

Gabby Garcia of Tagpi.

“Tagpi” means “to patch together,” which is Garcia’s brand proposition. “I patch together contemporary and traditional designs. And I also patch together different cultures through collaborations. A handwoven fabric from Abra,

for instance, is given a hand-embroidered design by Lumban artisans. You’ll see the handiwork of two different communities in one piece.”

4 Lokal
Lokal is a crazy mix-match of indigenous weaves, embroidery and beadwork constructed into vibrant artwear, including bomber jackets and trench coats, hand-painted with icons and legends like artist Frida Kahlo, rock star Mick Jagger and muse Mona Lisa, to name a few.

And if the designs seem familiar, it’s because Lokal, the handiwork of Connie Macatuno, were worn by the strong, stylish woman Dr. Jill, played by Jodi Sta. Maria, in the hit drama series Broken Marriage Vow.

Besides being a designer, Macatuno is also a TV director and was behind Broken Marriage Vow. On top of leading the show’s team, Macatuno brought in top modern Filipiniana brands to the show, including her own designs.

Macatuno’s son, Caxantino, is the artist behind the painted images on Lokal outfits. “We love to read books, we listen to music, we travel. So these are like our points of view as Filipinos looking into the world,” says mom Connie.

5 Farah Abu
“No one forgets the girl with the big earrings,” says designer Farah Abu. “Being a petite person, I find it hard to find clothes I can wear. So I found comfort in accessories. Anyone can wear them. They have so much power to transform one’s looks. They can make you stand out, they can make you recognizable and easy to remember.”

Finding beauty even in the mundane things, claims Abu, is her brand’s ethos. Only
high-quality materials go into her statement earrings, utilizing freshwater pearls, leather and glass beads; and hardware that makes use of silver plated in 24-karat gold. Abu’s other bestseller, the whimsical Avalina bag, can be used four ways: as a shoulder bag, belt bag, body bag and as a purse.

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