Cholo Ayuyao started in the world of doll couture about ten years ago, because he enjoyed dressing up and playing with dolls. “I’d dress up the doll, photograph it, and share the photos online.” The hobby became more complex and challenging for Ayuyao, a designer who operates an embellishment atelier in Pampanga, specializing in couture finishings and costume jewelry for designer clients, because he started to apply the same details and techniques of his life-sized creations onto his miniature gowns. “When the world of dolls noticed my work and I started receiving requests for commissions and getting invitations to join pageants and to present collections, I grabbed the opportunity and embraced the craft seriously.”
One such invitation came from Gino Gonzales, artistic director of Bench’s TernoCon project at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). Gonzales saw a previous Instagram post of Ayuyao’s doll wearing a terno. “I happened to join this doll pageant abroad. Since I was representing the Philippines, I thought it was essential to do a terno as the national costume for my doll.” Gonzales messaged Ayuyao to invite him to present a miniature terno collection at the CCP last year. “And the rest as they say, is history.”
For this year’s TernoCon, Ayuyao took inspiration from the Balete tree. His Filipiniana collection is entitled, Sa Lihim sa Puno, where Ayuyao likened the current terno movement to a Balete tree’s branches thrusting outward to the future with modern techniques and applications, but at the same time some branches thrust back down towards the roots symbolizing the revisiting of history. “For this collection, I focused on nude shades because aside from being my favorite tone to work on, nude always brings out the details on finished garments. It relaxes your eye as you view the garment but still highlights the textures and grains in miniatures. It is more technical than anything, really. Piña and jusi are the predominant Filipiniana fabrics and come in the same family tone. This collection was launched at the TernoCon last February and was supposed to go around Manila as part of the Bench Ternocon exhibit, but due to the pandemic, it’s all here with me now.”
With the pandemic, fashion weeks all over the world have gone digital. On a similar thread, Dior launched their Autumn/Winter 2020-2021 collection early July using miniature mannequins shown in a fantasy short film feature showing 37 miniature mannequins dressed in haute couture in a surreal setting with nymphs and mermaids. It referenced to that time in 1945 when French couture houses dressed miniature mannequins after the Second World War with the Théâtre de la Mode fashion exhibition. They did a tour around Europe and then to America to help revive the fashion industry. Aside from illustrations, miniatures were utilized centuries ago to convey the changes in styles and fashions, especially among European royalty. People looked to the royals for fashion inspiration.
“Just as Dior used miniature mannequins to showcase and perpetuate fashion in a time of crisis, I hope sharing this collection will inspire fashion forward Filipina brides-to-be to look into using or adding local materials and techniques into their dream wedding dresses. These pieces may seem too couture for the times, but a wedding is still a once-in-a-lifetime celebration. And now, with a little more time to focus on life’s important facets, we can research and source better to buy and support local.”
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