Anthony Cruz Legarda (left) with Sen. Loren Legarda and Philippine Textile Research Institute Director Carlos C. Tomboc at the designer’s fashion show early this year at the National Museum of the Philippines.

Another Filipino-American fashion designer is making his presence felt in the mainstream fashion world by integrating luxury, ethnicity and his advocacy for ecology into his traditionally handcrafted demi-couture clothing.

Anthony Cruz Legarda is not only a designer but also a textile technologist who, with his partnership with the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI), transforms his authentically handwoven works of art into a collection of fabrics embellished and dyed with natural pigments and meticulously designed with a modern Western sensibility. 

His creations are handcrafted by Filipino master artisans and tailored into American art-to-wear. 

On Sept. 28, Legarda will give the East Coast fashionistas a glimpse of his unique style with a 6 p.m. show at the Kalayaan Hall of the Philippine Center on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

Called “Piña Couture New York,” the show is sponsored by the Philippine Consulate General, the Philippine Department of Tourism, the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry, and the Philippine Textile Research Institute.

For the past decade, Legarda’s Fashion House and Textile Design Studio in San Francisco, Manila, and New York has produced sophisticated garments with design elements reflecting varied origins, such as Safari jackets with high Nehru collars and classical American jackets contrasted with Chinese front closures.

Billowy, puffed sleeves and magnificent, wide collars are combined with ultra-sexy mini dresses and sleek tuxedo jackets.

These fusion designs are the evolution of the Barong Tagalog and Filipino Terno.

Legarda’s collection gives emphasis to recent Philippine research and development efforts in the use of indigenous materials for fabrics utilizing environment-friendly natural dyes displaying rich earth-tone colors.

Motifs of the embellishments were a mélange of eastern and western iconography and patterns, and a revival of the golden era of Philippine arts and culture.

Each piece was opulently handwoven, embroidered, and beaded by Filipino master artisans in Paoay, Vigan, Lumban, Kalibo, Iloilo and Maguindanao.

His other worthy partnerships with PTRI included the design of modern Philippine garments for former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the Science Technology Ministers during the 8th ASEAN Science and Technology Week in July 2008.

This was followed by the creation of a fashion ensemble for the top eight finalists of the 2007 Miss Earth Beauty Pageant, which promoted PTRI’s green textiles utilizing fibers indigenous to the country.  

Legarda’s mission is to continue to produce the finest organic and natural fabrics made by master artisans in the Philippines and to manufacture them into a made-to-order art-to-wear luxury brand clothing line for the world market, thus helping create sustainable development communities in the Philippines. 

Legarda has a fashion merchandising degree from the City College of San Francisco and a fashion design degree from Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.

Aside from becoming a featured artist at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, the San Francisco Craft and Folk Art Museum, the Anchorage Museum in Alaska, and the Queens Museum of Art in New York City, he is proud of his involvement with the Philippine-based Katutubong Filipino Foundation, whose mission is to revive Philippine folk arts and crafts.

For tickets ($50 donation), sponsorship and other details of the New York show, call Zoila Mendoza at 516.695.0784 or Cynthia Flores 347.249.4341.


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