Friday, June 26, 2015

International Fashion Icon John C. Ablaza brings “Couture & Culture” to the US

Phoenix, AZ – Opening his US tour in Arizona at the Phoenix Art Museum on May 30, 2015, dignitaries and fashion influencers, on and off the runway, graced the much-anticipated “Couture & Culture” gala fashion show by Manila-based international designer John C. Ablaza.

John C. Ablaza

It was a wonderful evening filled with beauty, curious minds, innovative art, and a strong sense of community as the affair, produced by Darrell and Andrea Smith of benefitted the Miss Arizona Scholarship Pageant Foundation and The 3000 Club 

With luxury cars displayed upfront the museum by event sponsor, Mercedes-Benz of Scottsdale, the ropes opened and the red carpet welcomed VIPs leading them first to the charity auction and the preview of Rizal Traveling Museum exhibit sponsored by the Arizona Knights of Rizal. 

Chosen by the National Centennial Commission in 1998, John was appointed to recreate a replica of the wardrobe of Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines, in conjunction with the 100th year celebration of Philippine Independence. His Rizal collections has since traveled all over the Philippines, North America and across Europe, and was popularly visited during its 5-day display at the Saguaro Hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona on June 11th thru 15th, 2015. 
(See photos below by Joseph Inosante)

The VIPs continued on to the lively reception at the Rineberg Gallery.   Cocktails and sumptuous hors d’oeuvres were served, and live string entertainment was provided by Urban Electra, while guests mingled and met John C. Ablaza and his “Couture & Culture” Signature Models ~ Bea Santiago, 2013 Miss International Philippines; Art Ortiz Natividad, 2014 Asia Star Model Philippines; and models Marc Nash and Stevo Trann.

It wasn't long before the crowd was led to the Breat Hall for the highlight of the evening.  I was amazed... a fashion show that actually started on time!

Opening model, Kristoffer Smith wore a feather sheathed knee-length pants, one of John's signature pieces, as he kicked off the runway show with the theatrical and acrobatic moves.

It was an exhilarating start, followed by awe-inspiring 40-piece collection including ~ simple white floor length dresses and men’s light linen shirts paired with drawstring short trousers; artfully slimming gray long and short dresses and men’s formal wear with feather lapel layover; dramatic red evening wear; beautifully handcrafted brown and white gowns with unique ornaments made of sustainable elements; and who can take their eyes away from those spectacular bowties… focus!

Bea Santiago, Miss International 2013

(Photo credits Steve Yap Photography, Stephen Yap)

The details are definitely eye-catching and fascinating, especially knowing that the sculptured gowns, menswear and accessories were handmade with eco-friendly and organic materials like coconut, dalet or barks, sig-id or reed grass fibers. Excellent craftsmanship!

I was excited and honored to walk the runway and be part of John's legacy.  I must say that this is one of, if not the most organized front and back house production I have ever experienced! Kudos to the producers, models, Pretty & Dollfaced hair and make-up crew, wardrobe team, photographers and videographers and all the volunteers for pulling it off in less than 45 days! Bravo!!

But the real success and the most important aspect of “Couture & Culture” is John’s advocate for ancestral craftsmanship and his dedication to safeguard the Mangyan tribe and the indigenous culture in Mindoro, Philippines.  He mentors the tribal women to hone their embroidering techniques and design skills with a mission and promise to bring them more work and improve their livelihood. In a recent press release, John revealed his collaboration with one of the respected families in Cebu, Philippines – the Ayala’s – who share the same advocacy in helping the Mangyan tribe.

If you missed John C. Ablaza's "Couture & Culture" Fashion Show and Rizal Traveling Museum last month, you are in luck! For his next engagement, John is bringing both the fashion show and the traveling museum to the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, Cerritos, California on July 11th 2015, alongside Ryan Cayabyab and Nonon Padilla's Noli Me Tangere - The Musical.

Pack your bags, jet to California, get your FASH on and make a fashion scene! For more details about this glam affair and other chic stories and happenings, visit and LIKE “Chasing Sheila” on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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