If you were to recreate a tale, tasked solely to bring new life to the “Emperor’s New Clothes” in a different medium, what story would you tell me?
It began with one text message - an invitation to stage a world of fantasy and imagination. We said yes and we were to never look back. That was the beginning of "Ablazablaze 2012".
When I was starting my forays in the fashion industry last year - checking on anything I found interesting and looking for what I really wanted to write about - one of the first events I was brought to was the fashion exhibit entitled, “Wild Things”. My friend Natasha Mors brought me along and it was the start of my admiration and affinity with the ‘artcessories’ of famed designer, Junjun Abaza. At that time, I knew very little about the quiet man who wore an all white ensemble, walking around his exhibit to greet people and have his photo taken with guests.
Reminisce about in on my post "When the Wild Goes Lose":
October of the same year, I was again with Natasha, slightly starving myself to fit perfectly in a sexy black organza kaftan by Michele Sison (which for some reason everyone kept referring to as a barong). This time, we were on our way to the National Museum to celebrate the birthday of Junjun Ablaza, and the opening of his exhibit, “Ablazablaze 2011”. During those moments, I was so honored to be invited to an uber stylish gathering.
Come 2012, plans for Junjun’s birthday exhibit became grander. He recently had a family trip to Japan. And while he was there, his eyes were opened to a realm of creative innovation, finding inspiration in the country’s culture, people, arts, and more. This led to a surge of ideas that centered on Japanese life, thus forming the entire theme of the exhibit this year.
We were pressed for time so we needed to follow timelines, meetings, and deadlines. We only had two months and everything had to be on track. From gathering a pool of talents, meeting with the collaborators, organizing and covering shoots, following through on photos and requirements, requesting and editing collaborators’ profiles, and a lot more in between, everyone strived to do their part and to do their best to make everything work. Thankfully, all the hard work paid off nicely.
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It was to be a major fashion photo exhibit that will run for three days, opening during the birthday of Junjun on October 24 and closing on October 26. As Junjun referred to the exhibit, "Be dazzled by resplendent images, bizarre spectacles, captured motions of Ablaze Artwear + Artcessories x inimitable stylists x photographers: Raizel Dy x Louie Parinas; Ryuji Shiomitsu x Rxandy Capinpin; Jhay Layson x Arvin Cruz; Roko Arceo x Filbert Kung; Mike de Guzman + George Palmiano x Bethoven Filomeno; Rolee Umali x Mark Jacob; Edrick Paz x Sylvester Sy; Louis Gonzalez + John Damagan x Mark Ryan Alvarez; Rob Lim x Ram Mendoza + Arojo Santos; L.A. Feriols x Wesley Villarica; Mica Santos x Alvin Adriano; Angelo de Cartagena x Christine Day Lorico; Argie Salango x Glenn Peter Perez; Michael Russell Reyes x Michael Franks; Gio Gahol x Jav Velasco." Kay Rodriguez of Airbrush Diva and her team became a big part of this project when they signed on to be the hair and make-up team for some of the collaborators' shoots.
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It was a rainy October 24. I woke-up around noon after having a couple of drinks with a friend the night before. My mind was set only for the event and I just had to double check if my outfit was steam-ironed properly. Afterwards, around four in the afternoon, I was on my way to Makati.
One hour before the exhibit officially opened, I walked around while the lights were still dimly lit. The Main Lounge of the Manila Polo Club was transformed into a magical stage that held the forty-eight photo creations done by the fifteen sets of collaborators. A description taken from the word ‘ABLAZE’ represented each giant photo in the exhibit. In the center of it all were mannequins lined together, wearing Junjun’s artcessories, standing like different interpretations of powerful emperors and their stylish armor of choice. It was an amazing visual feat.
With a touch of red, Manila’s most fashionable gathered together not just for the success of “Ablazablaze 2012”, but also to celebrate the birthday of the ultra-talented Junjun Ablaza. Friends came to feast, drink, and laugh together after walking through and gazing at the fabulous works of art around them. It was a splendid way of ending all the time and efforts spent to conjure a standard for magnificence.
I'm taking this opportunity to say my thank you to the people who made some details a little more perfect for me. My mom and I are still at awe, extending a heartfelt thank you to my talented and kind friend Francis Libiran for the gown mom wore to the event. From my end, thank you to the wonderful Mr. Mel Meer and Bergamo for the paint stained Japanese linen top I wore. This is actually a Christmas gift from last year that I wore for the very first time during the event.