Sleight of Hand

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

THESE days, everyone is accustomed to having everything instantly. Fast food, faster transportation, high-speed Internet, and websites and apps that are all about having everything done right now, never a minute or a second too soon.

Despite the fast-paced lifestyle that technology affords us, there is still nothing like the preciousness of something that has been painstakingly done the slow and often difficult way. Detailed work done by hand offers the personality and history that machines and technology simply cannot replace.

Telling a story of Cebu’s heritage and wealth of artisan talent, designer Dexter Alazas introduces his hand-crafted collection. Called Amano, it is inspired by the Spanish word amaño, which means skillfully done by hand. Although Alazas Atelier continues to produce couture fashion, Dexter says that Amano is for easy dressing. The resort-chic pieces use natural colors and floral accents, all in dedication to fashion and crafts done by hand.


These pieces “speak of Cebu with a global feel, promoting the islands with pride,” Dexter explains. “Part of my design philosophy and fashion advocacy is to promote local craftsmanship,” which includes painting, aside from crocheting, beading, weaving and other skilled craft.

Here, simple neutral blazers for men and draped dresses for women get a dose of artistry and that special, handmade feel with painted patterns. These hand-painted raw silk fabrics were inspired by still-life paintings, done by Dexter himself with his sister, Dahlia Alazas. They hand-painted florals and feathers on a large piece of fabric much like painters on canvas, then laser-cut the designs according to the parts of the clothes where they were going to be sewn onto.

Dexter did the styling and creative direction for this shoot, bringing in his oil paints, paint brushes and pattern papers for the raw feel of work that is still in progress. The designer admits being very hands-on can be difficult and tiring, but he will always devote time to something he is passionate about.

Creativity and manual work certainly require more time and care than using machines, but there’s nothing like the feel of seeing something made by hand come to life, and then be enjoyed for its beauty as much as its purpose.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 22, 2014.


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