Dressed in piña in San Francisco

Filipino American designer Anthony Cruz Legarda showcases Philippine pineapple fabric in a retrospective

Filipino American fashion designer Anthony Cruz Legarda paid homage to the Philippine pineapple fabric or piña in the fashion show “Piña Couture: An Anthony Legarda 30-Year Piña Collection Retrospective.” It was recently organized by The Hinabi Project and the KalayaanSF Committee at the San Francisco Filipino Cultural Center, SOMA Pilipinas Filipino Cultural Heritage District.

Philippine Consul General Neil Ferrer and Mrs. Miriam Ferrer led the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco in joining the event, which marks the first KalayaanSF event and the first Filipino fashion show held in the San Francisco Bay Area since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Deputy consul general Raquel Solano and vice consul Adrian Baccay also graced the event.

In his remarks, Ferrer said that the initiatives of The Hinabi Project such as the fashion show “are important as these help Filipinos rediscover the rich customs and traditions of their forebears, and give Filipino Americans a source of pride for their ancestral culture and heritage.” He also congratulated the designer for his efforts in promoting Filipino-inspired couture in the US.

PINOYS IN SANFO From left: Filipino American fashion designer Anthony Cruz Legarda, Miriam Ferrer, Philippine Consul General in San Francisco Neil Ferrer, and KalayaanSF committee chair Conrad Calalang

“His passion for turning authentic, natural, and handwoven Philippine textiles into modern wear has brought him to some of the global fashion capitals such as New York City and Rome,” said Ferrer.

To the consul general, fashion can become a beautiful expression and representation of Philippine history and culture around the globe. “Two of the Philippines’ national artists, Ramon Valera and the recently inducted Salvacion Lim-Higgins, were groundbreaking fashion designers who brought the terno to worldwide recognition,” he said.  “As we celebrate the life’s work of Anthony Cruz Legarda, may this fashion show and gala encourage Filipinos and Americans alike to support Philippine indigenous fashion not only for its aesthetic appeal and cultural significance, but also for the sustainable livelihood that could be created for thousands of Filipino producers, farmers, artisans, and designers back home.”

Cruz Legarda is involved with CustomMade Crafts Center in the Philippines, whose mission is to promote and expand the market for fairly traded and sustainable Philippine indigenous handicrafts that respect traditions. He has also partnered with the Philippine Textile Research Institute in the development of innovative Philippine fabrics.

TAKE A BOW The models pose with the designer after the show 

The piña is an extraordinary textile made by weaving the fibers of the leaves of the red pineapple plant or pinyang pula. This light, airy fabric is perfectly suitable to the Philippines’ hot tropical climate.

‘Two of the Philippines’ national artists, Ramon Valera and the recently inducted Salvacion Lim-Higgins, were groundbreaking fashion designers who brought the terno to worldwide recognition.’

During the Spanish colonial era, Philippine-made piña textiles were coveted in Europe and considered worthy gifts to give to royals such as Queen Victoria of the UK and King Alfonso XIII of Spain. In recent history, the piña-made barong Tagalog was worn by world leaders such as US Presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump during the Philippines’ hosting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders Meeting in 1996 and 2015, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in 2017.

Photos courtesy of Michael Hruska