Edgar San Diego: From Master Couturier to Professional Painter
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Edgar San Diego: From Master Couturier to Professional Painter

Edgar San Diego: From Master Couturier to Professional Painter

Fashion | October 12, 2021
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In the ever-changing waves of creative artistry, couturier Edgar San Diego translates his love for the classic Baro’t Saya into art.

Filipino couturier, Edgar San Diego, has seen fashion in the Philippines evolve for over 40 years. He served as long-time President of FDAP (Fashion Designers Association of the Philippines). And throughout those years, he was able to establish his name as a master in the creation of custom Filipiñanas: the timeless Baro’t Saya.

“I’ve always had a love of creating Filipiñanas, it has been my favorite to create,” he proudly shares.

Throughout the decades, as fashion designers come and go, and trends change by the season, he has remained true to his core. In fact, his business is well and alive today because he was able to establish his market here and abroad—specifically to cater to this design need. He shares, “There will always be an occasion where Filipino communities abroad need to wear traditional Filipino Baro’t Saya. And so, they come to me.”

From Fashion to Painting

In fact, Edgar San Diego was getting ready to leave for the United States to do a fashion show. Until the pandemic hit. Suddenly, no one was attending events, and there was no need for these Filipiñanas. So he did what most of us did during the lockdowns—he pivoted to another direction and started painting.

“Painting has always been with me. There are some creations that I personally hand-painted,” he explains. But the difference now is that instead of fabric, he started painting on canvas.

“Those were materials that were readily available to me. Just so I could pass the time during the pandemic, I started to do paintings. I finish one painting every Friday and it normally takes me 3 days to finish one. But it takes longer for some to finish.”

Basta ‘pag Friday, dapat tapos na ‘ko,” he adds with finality.

Through this, he was able to transpose the discipline of being a couturier to his art—by painting using acrylic and watercolor. When I asked what his style was, he says it’s not really realism. “It’s my own take on Impressionism. Basta, it’s always very Filipino,” says Edgar, reiterating his love for what is ours.

On Showcasing His Creations

The Fridays went by and not long, he had enough to give to friends and relatives. Soon after, he decided that he would put them on the market—out for the world to see.

With a suggestion from Toots Tolentino and the support of long-time fashion industry veterans and fellow masters of couture, Eric Pineda, Edgar Madamba, Barge Ramos, Jojie Aguilar, Vic Barba, Cata Figueroa, Lule Ibanez, Jojie Lloren, and Tonichi Nocom, Edgar launched his first solo exhibition. Held at SM Mega Fashion Hall, the exhibit, titled “Baro’t Saya, Tuwa at Ligaya,” runs from October 9 to 15, 2021.

Displayed in the exhibit are some of his beautiful trademark ternos and paintings, which feature mostly his muse—his daughter, Anna Barbara San Diego. “60% of the paintings are inspired by Abby,” Edgar proudly beams.

Translating the Baro’t Saya Into Art

Fashion Editor Myrza Sison describes his art as a tribute to his time as a fashion designer. “You can see the fashion background in the depiction of the fabrics, the attention to makeup, [and] the humor. There’s always an arched eyebrow or a side-eye. I personally love the vertical formats,” she exclaims.

In an industry that celebrates change and adapts with every season, Edgar San Diego has successfully translated his love for the Baro’t Saya both in his clothes, and now his art. Because what really is fashion but art, and art, fashion, right?

One thing is sure—Edgar San Diego will continue to profile these beautiful collections on whatever he can get his hands on. And if you’ve been lucky enough to wear one of his creations, you would be luckier even to have one hanging on your wall.

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