U.S. Embassy, Partners Welcome Philippines Fashion Icons to Zimbabwe

John Ablaza with workshop participants
John Ablaza with workshop participants

The United States and local partners are supporting the visit to Zimbabwe of accomplished and renowned fashion designer, John Ablaza, photographer Jeaniffer Morales Evans and model Bea Rose Santiago, from Philippines, to stimulate growth and opportunities for local fashion entrepreneurs in Harare and Bulawayo.  The trio will conduct a series of educational and inspirational workshops which began today and end in August 6th.

Ablaza’s seminar covers design techniques, use of natural materials and avant-garde design. The workshop will be followed by five days of collaboration with community artisans to create items to showcase at a fashion show on August 6. Participants to the workshops include designers, photographers and models.

The Photography Workshop with Jeaniffer Morales Evans will take place on July 23rd and participants have been selected through an online recruitment process. According to the implementing partners, who include KUSIKA Design Centre, Zedlabel, Mustard Seed Africa, Hunnar Management Agency and Zimbabwe International Film & Festival (ZIFF) the workshop will be a practical course documenting the design work of artisans and designers involved in the designer training, the handcraft artisans workshop. The images will be showcased at an exhibition at the National Art Gallery in August 2016.

The workshops are being held at Kusika Center, a new workspace for designers and artisans, with enables them to foster their creations and designs, all in the comfort of a creative environment. The center boasts a manufacturing unit, a training room, a co-working space and a resource center. John Ablaza’s visit is the first of many projects that the center will be hosting.

Ablaza’s career is renowned for his passion in using sustainable raw materials and natural products to create his designs. He is known for his structured creations with simple lines and defined patterns; deriving much of his inspiration from nature. His passion can further be appreciated in his Couture and Culture Fashion Show, having founded the platform so as to merge his passion for fashion and eco-friendly designs by bridging the gap between his native Philippine culture and fashion. Couture and Culture fashion show has showcased in several international continents including the United States, Canada, parts of Europe and Asia as well as his home country of Manila, Philippines.

With a career that has spanned over 25 years, John Ablaza is a designer that seeks to make the world a better place by bringing fashion and culture together to create haute couture. His designs are further not limited to couture gowns and garments but accommodates his high class bags, fashion accessories and renowned haute couture bowtie collection embellished with natural materials like coco beads, seeds and seashell. Ablaza is a designer that truly appreciates the environment, the people and the things that he sees around him every day whilst accommodating the different natural elements found in the Philippines; such as highly sustainable coco shells, coco beads, wood beads, lumbang, sisgid and dalet.

John Ablaza is a designer that will be sure to impact his knowledge and appreciation of environmentally and socially responsible fashion. His awe-inspiring collections hit the runways of Hong Kong, Singapore, London, Bahrain, Sydney, and Toronto. A known fashion icon in the Philippine fashion industry, John Ablaza created a name for himself when he was nominated to create a replica of Philippine’s national hero Dr. Jose Rizal’s wardrobe in time for the Centennial Celebration of Philippine independence in 1998. From then on, his Rizal collection has become prominent and traveled all over the Philippines and other parts of the world in countries and cities across North America and Europe. Some of his fashion design work can be glimpsed on the coffee table book “Ramp Diva Filipina,” published in 2012. The book chronicles the experience of stunning models who left an indelible mark in the Philippine modeling industry from the late 1970’s to 2000.

Additional workshops will be held in Bulawayo managed by Hunnar Management Agency. Closing the designers 20 day visit, an extravagant fashion show will be held at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe.- ZimPAS/ Kusika Design Center.