Morphing Art into Fashion with Laguindingan Silk

FEATURE
By T2 Mike
June 1, 2021

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As Cagayan de Oro transitions into MECQ status in response to a surge in covid-19 infections, one of the city’s leading artists is optimizing the time available to him as he works from home.

“Five years ago, I made a customized minaudière for a good friend. I did not expect to gain attention from the fashion industry since I'm producing home accessories,” said Christopher L. Gomez, one of Cagayan de Oro’s senior Kagay-anon designer who’s a multi-disciplinary creative and advocate of Sustainable Design.

“Today, I reinvent again to produce in a limited-edition, hand-painted minaudières  made of Laguindingan Silk,” Chris reveals. “ As an artist, I want my product to produce in a limited way. So there will only be 43 pieces of these made-to-order, customized fashionable pieces which are proudly made in Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao.”

A minaudière is a women's fashion accessory, generally considered a jewelry piece, which stands in for an evening bag. A case with compartments, it allows several items such as a makeup compact, lipstick, watch, reading glasses, or keys to be stored in a small space.

Usually metal plated and oblong, sized small enough to be held within the hand, a minaudière is a dainty accessory. Gomez’s creations are textile designs with Laguindingan Silk overlaying a frame with hand painted designs.

“Each piece is hand-painted and hand-crafted using traditional materials abundant in the region,” Gomez said. “The clutch is made of shell clasp thoroughly manipulated to achieve a greener tone.”

According to fashion journalist Lloyd Boston, a minaudière constitutes an essential part of an evening wardrobe, a small object with no limit to its usefulness, and a fabulous character.

The minaudière appeared during the 1930s. Its invention is attributed to Charles Arpels (of Van Cleef & Arpels), but many jewelers and haute couture designers have created their own models, like what Chris Gomez is doing.

The word minaudière was a French term for a coquettish woman, from the word "minauder" (to flirt or simper).

As a Product Development Mentor accredited by the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship, and a Product Design Specialist of  Design Center Philippines (DCP), Chris has been a mentor to Kagay-anon designers eyeing to break the glass ceiling that has constrained them from attaining their full potential to breach the event horizon and define a Kagay-anon Design Paradigm instantly recognizable anywhere in the world.

Among his many laurels: Finalist, 2011 National Philippine Art Awards; Grand Prize winner (water-based category) 2012 Metrobank Art & Design Excellence Awards; Finalist, 2014 Look of Style Awards (British Council/Look Magazine); and Finalist, 3rd Habi Kadayawan Design Competition held August 2019 at Davao City.

As one of the spark plugs of Design de Oro, composed of graduates from two previous design workshops which aimed to build their capability through trainings with designers, Chris has sought to keep local designers updated  with trends, techniques, manipulation, up to the prices of saleable products.

More recently, his design class modules were adopted by the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) One Town, One Product (OTOP) through the MODA (Modernong Obra, Desinyung Atin) Designer Manlilikha course, a virtual online program conducted September-November 2020 which graduated 125 aspiring designers all over the Philippines.

Featuring eight design leaders in their respective design fields from fashion. furniture to packaging and visual merchandising, MODA Manlilikha aimed at growing the capability and creativity of regional designers.

“As a program director, I want to level up the growing capacity of our designers to understand better design solutions and marketable products to be executed by our micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs),” Chris said. “This program is supported by DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, DTI Undersecretary Blessila Lantayona, and OTOP Assistant Secretary Demphna Du-Naga.”

The second phase of the program will be launched in August and will start in September with design mentors from Manila, Cebu and Cagayan de Oro.

“Our 125 graduates will undergo a specialized program that best suits their design interests. We are finalizing the lists of mentors because we want our young designers to be better equipped with skills and design thinking.”

Not the least, as one of the most sought-after designers not only in the region but from all over the country as well, Chris considers his work as the connection between his art and his family.

“My art also serves as fulcrum between a day job and my family. It connects the two in a very organic way, a sort of translation device.”

“For me, design is always answering the question “is this product good for my family?”

 “Having three children today has better connected me to the child I was before, fearlessly and innocently drawing in between studies, chores and games.”

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