There’s no special skill required to make a difference; all that’s needed is the burning desire to help. This desire is what brought six of the country’s illustrious fashion designers together to use their craft to help support a great cause at ICanServe Foundation’s Fashion Can Serve fashion show on Oct. 8 at Raffles Makati Hotel.
Proving that the business of fashion is beyond just glam and glitter, six designers at the top of their game—JC Buendia, Ito Curata, Cary Santiago, Vania Romoff, Mia Arcenas, and Rosenthal Tee—together with their celebrity muses and models, will showcase their creative vision and use their Holiday 2017 collections to send this year’s message of hope and raise support for ICanServe Foundation and its advocacy of Awareness and Early Detection of Breast Cancer.
Slated during the Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it returns with a powerful new message for 2017: “WhyWeFight.”
“Last year’s show had the theme We Don’t Walk Alone, and the muses walked with a family member or friend who accompanied them on their journey battling the cancer,” explains ICanServe Foundation Chairwoman Libet Virata. She adds, “Our theme this year is ‘WhyWeFight’ and our muses will include mother and her young child, or grandmothers and grandchild. That’s how the show differs from last year’s. We also have some supporters who walk in honor of a family member or friend who passed away.”
“Our theme emphasizes the reason why persons diagnosed with breast cancer choose to fight: They do this for their spouses, children, and grandchildren,” says ICanServe Foundation President Tang Singson.
More than your typical fashion show, Fashion Can Serve aims to deliver a special message of hope with the help of the designers, models, and their muses. “There is life during and after cancer. The mere fact you have breast cancer survivors walking down the ramp is showcasing hope and life in motion!” stresses Kara Alikpala, ICanServe Foundation founder. “Some of the organizers and women in the audience are also cancer survivors brimming with hope and rallying for fellow survivors. The designers on their own spread awareness and information so patients know how to navigate their healing journey.”
Maureen Wroblewitz, the first Filipina to win Asia’s Next Top Model, is the face of Fashion Can Serve 2017. Her mother, a former ICanServe volunteer, succumbed to breast cancer, and it’s in her memory that Maureen is supporting the foundation.
This October, survivors and supporters alike will lend their time to grace this year’s runway; this year’s muses include Margie Moran Floirendo, Gloria Diaz, Solenn Heusaff, Jasmine Curtis-Smith, Katarina Rodriguez, Tootsy Angara, WynnWynn Ong, Techie Velasquez, Mila Camus, Sandy Moran, Sabrina Panlilio, and co-founder Crisann Celdran, among many others.
Finding inspiration close to home
With the Philippines having the highest incidence of breast cancer in Southeast Asia and being among the top 10 in the world, the advocacy behind Fashion Can Serve is something every Filipino should care about. “Our show highlights that breast cancer does not equate to a death sentence—it is curable, most especially if caught at an early stage,” Virata points out.
All six designers have the heart for the cause, and the message the event hopes to convey especially resonates with some of them who have loved ones touched by the disease.
Cebuano style visionary Santiago says, “I am joining this show since cancer survivors are so close to my heart. I have a sister who is a cancer survivor. It gives me great joy lending my time and dresses to this worthy cause.”
“The reason I joined Fashion Can Serve this year is, my main assistant is actually a survivor of breast cancer. We only found out she had breast cancer late last year; it was already Stage 3,” shares Tee. “Luckily we were able to find her the help to do chemotherapy and have the breast removed, and now she’s recuperating well so far. It hits so close to home because she’s someone I encounter everyday and she’s like family.”
“I know of a few women who have been affected or have had loved ones affected by breast cancer. It’s something that needs to be fought and this is my way of helping support the fight against it,” declares Romoff.
Collections that celebrate strength
The designers will draw inspiration from the courageous and triumphant journeys of breast cancer survivors and will interpret these in their creations, all while showcasing their respective aesthetic.
“I want to convey happiness in my collection because I’ve learned over the years of making clothes for breast cancer survivors that the secret to battling cancer involves inviting positive vibes and being just happy,” shares celebrated fashion designer Buendia, who marks 30 years in the industry this year. “Of course, I’ll be using the color pink, and I’m thinking of using cherry blossoms and peonies as design elements,” he continues.
Meanwhile, Santiago’s collection this year will feature “all muted colors, still and classic.” The designer, who’s the go-to couturier of celebrities and powerful women, describes his collection for Fashion Can Serve as “a celebration of a woman’s fluidity and femininity.”
One of today’s most in-demand young designers, known for her romantic and feminine pieces, Romoff will likewise use feminine lines and silhouettes in her collection to reflect the strength of a woman. “I wish for my clothes to convey strength seen through a woman’s beautiful figure,” she expresses.
Strength is also the central message in the youthful Arcenas’ collection, especially since “a lot of my mom’s friends and some people in the family, like my dad’s cousins, have gone through that, and they’re fortunate to be survivors. It’s such a strong cause to support,” she relates. “Because of the cause we are supporting, I want [my collection for the show] to convey the two aspects of a woman: the soft side and femininity, and also the fact that she’s strong and she can take care of herself, even with a disease like breast cancer.”
Another young designer making waves in the industry, Tee, who has already done a show for New York Fashion Week within two years of getting into the business of fashion, hopes to contribute to the cause with her holiday collection. She says it will definitely showcase her aesthetic that brims with “flirtatiousness and youthfulness, which fuses together different cultures. I’m going to play with Eastern Asian influences,” she reveals.
“I hope the audience will have an open mind and appreciate the works of all designers, since we all have distinct aesthetics. I know it will be a good show,” renowned designer Ito Curata asserts.
Beyond the beautiful clothes, the real highlight of the show is always seeing a cancer survivor walk down the fashion ramp, hearing the audience cheer for her, and seeing the survivor smiling proud and looking triumphant.
Since it began in 1999, ICanServe Foundation has made great progress in spreading awareness, but indeed, there’s more to be done. This year, Fashion Can Serve could not do without their partners for this endeavour.
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