LOOK: This fashion designer creates ‘eco-couture’ made of water hyacinths

He did it in under 30 minutes!

Early this week, Manileños were surprised to see the Pasig River mostly covered with loads of water hyacinths along Jones Bridge and McArthur Bridge. While the appearance of the aquatic plants is not new to the river during the rainy season, it is hard for people not to notice how fast the plants covered it. 

CLOGGED – A tug boat is overwhelmed by water lilies as it makes its way along the Pasig River on Sunday, October 4. (Manny Llanes / MANILA BULLETIN)

In Negros Occidental, water hyacinths are also making a buzz. But unlike in the metro, this one has a stylish touch. A group of fashion creatives took inspiration from the plant on their latest shoot. Costume designer Jessie Gatuslao, photographer Romeo Francisco, and queer muse Antonette Veron Fernandez (famously known as Kwen of Neyture) brought couture to the countryside with a makeshift dress made of, you know it, water hyacinths. Jessie, a registered nurse, designed a water hyacinth cocktail dress inspired by Peter Pan's Tinkerbell in under 30 minutes.

Antonette wearing Jessie's water hyacinth dress (Photo by Romeo Francisco)

“We’re just visiting my sister-in-law at Brgy. Sagasa in Bago City and we saw a lot of water hyacinths there,” Romeo tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “Jessie just went for it and created the dress on the spot.”

This is not the first time the trio did a nature-theme fashion editorial. They have been collaborating for months, producing “eco-couture” editorials featuring leaves from various plants and trees such as pine and coconut tree. They even recreated Catriona Gray’s lava gown using the leaves of the famous house plant croton plants.

Just like haute couture, their works aim to spark awareness through bold art. Their goal is to influence people to adapt a more sustainable lifestyle, especially during this pandemic. “We want to inspire other people to be environmentally conscious and to think that anything around us can be turned into beautiful things,” Romeo says. “The people who believe in our talents and supported us to pursue our dreams are the reason we continue to do this.”