September 13th, 2016
"Triple Threat Advocacy" is not the frilly sort of name we expect from a fashion show, but designer Avel Bacudio's heart was in the right place as he staged a showing of swimwear, couture and Fall 2017 ready-to-wear designs in support of the Northern Luzon School for the Visually Impaired.
The nonprofit organization in his home country of the Philippines provides board, lodging, educational services and livelihood training and equal opportunities for visually impaired students to promote independence and meaningful lives. The school relies mostly on donations for support.
The event presented by Magnum Model and Talent Productions and sponsored by Philippine Airlines, took place Sept. 11 in the Hilton Hawaiian Village and Resort's Coral Ballroom. Audience members were treated to intimate peformances by recording artist Billy Crawford and Philippines Prince of R&B and Jay R Sillona, who both posed for selfies with fans in the midst of performances.
The close of his show brought out keiki and adult models in neoprene, digital-print sweaters emblazoned with "A"s and other letters of the alphabet, the "A" representing both Avel and advocacy for the visually impaired students.
The charity is close to his heart because of his own brush with blindness a decade ago when he suffered from retinal detachment that could have ended his career.
Bacudio was raised in Bicol, in Southern Luzon, better known for being home to one of the smallest freshwater fish in the world, the dwarf pygmy goby, than fashion. He rose to present his work on international stages after being chosen to participate in a student fashion competition in Paris. Bacudio earned the title of "Asia's Most Influential Designer during Mercedes-Benz Stylo Asia Fashion Week 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, beating 24 other designers from 11 countries throughout Asia. Shoe designer Jimmy Choo is one of his champions, and is working to bring Bacudio's work to the attention of fashion enthusiasts in the West.
Bacudio, 37, said his ambition is to have a ready-to-wear business on par with Ralph Lauren. For that to happen, he said, the Manila fashion industry must grow. Much like Hawaii, he said there is no shortage of design talent in the Philippines, but unlike China, Japan or Vietnam, the infrastructure for global production doesn't exist. "We need help from other countries to make it global," he said.
For now, buyers in the United States can visit aveldesigns.com, where pieces are running about USD$300 to $400.
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her fashion coverage in print in Saturday's Today section. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.