People & Events


Inabel goes luxe

Mitch Desunia highlights Ilocano hand-woven textile in major fashion show.

From Sorsogon, she aims to conquer the fashion world. (Above right) Mitch Desunia shuttles between London and Manila.

The Ilocano people of northern Philippines possess a rich heritage in weaving textiles, which is alive until now with its traditional patterns and weaving techniques. Many people call the traditional textile “inabel,” the general Ilocano word for anything woven, from the root word abel, which means “to weave.”

The Ilocano inabel has fascinated many designers and has been frequently used by them in modern fashion. Mitch Desunia is one of the designers. Moreover, she is putting the spotlight on the inabel in her “Entwined: The Mitch Desunia Spring-Summer 2020 Collection” show, which is the highlight of “Cars X Couture” event that combines high fashion and luxury cars, to be held on 22 November, at 6 p.m., at the events place Palazzo Verde in Las Piñas City.

Desunia showed us a sample of her inabel creation — a sleek coat of hand-woven textile paired with black tulle Boho skirt. And one can see the beautiful potential of the inabel as a material for luxe and trendy fashion.

Promoting Philippine traditional fabrics.

Ilocano hand-woven textile for the top, complemented by a tulle skirt.

A flowing, multi-colored wraparound dress.

A coat of inabel textile.

Dramatic gown with flower embellishments.

The textile was woven in Santiago, Ilocos Sur, she said. The desire to help out the local weavers and promote Philippine-made textiles encouraged Desunia to use inabel for her latest collection. She also believes in the craftsmanship which can compete globally in terms of beauty in design and durability.

Desunia said that inabel is comparable to the tweed creations of Chanel and Gucci. She also said the fabric is thick enough that it can used in Western countries, but it is not too warm that it can be used in the Philippines.

Desunia tweaked with the traditional patterns to suit her taste and the inabel is shaped for modern silhouettes.

The ensemble she created will be a trend, she said — something that can be worn both in parties and offices. Desunia has a penchant for merging contrasting things but striking a balance, such as between the traditional and the fashion forward, the elegant and the informal.

But she maintains that she has fondness for the elegant and thus the collection will be containing beautiful gowns and bridal dresses for which she has become known.

Desunia does not come from an affluent background though. Hailing from the district of Bacon of Sorsogon City, Sorsogon, she grew up in a house along the shore. After school, she enjoyed drawing faces and dresses on the sand along the beach. She drew them quickly, finishing them before the waves washed them away. At eight years old, she made paper dolls with different dresses which she sold her classmates and friends. She moved to Manila when her mother worked in factory as a sewer. Her interest in sewing and fashion was bolstered by her mother’s work. She would make dresses out of retaso (clippings from textiles).

Desunia became one of the recipients of a scholarship program of the Department of Science and Technology and took up Electronics and Communications Engineering at the Technological University of the Philippines.

She also went into the ukay-ukay business, bringing second-hand clothes from Manila to Sorsogon. Since most of the sizes of these clothes were large, buyers often requested her to alter them, honing her sewing skill more.

Desunia decided to pursue her first love — fashion. She took over a fashion atelier in Las Piñas and became known for bridal gowns. To beef up her fashion credentials, she decided to study fashion abroad, even on a short course. She enrolled at the Fashion and Textile Forecasting course of the University of the Arts, London-Central Saint Martins.

In the Philippines, she worked as a call center agent, and with her savings, was able to establish Mitch Desunia Haute Couture on 15 March 2009, which specialized in affordable couture bridal gowns. The company was later on incorporated in 2015 and became Mitch Desunia Apparel Inc.

Recently, she created three more brands: Madame Moiselle Desunia (MODE) for high-street fashion pieces for men, ladies and kids available at select Finds Finds stores; IDo Manila that provides occasion dresses, available at select Robinsons Department Stores; Desunia Beauty Essentials that focuses on beauty products such as soaps and lotions.

“Entwined” will serve as an epitome of her hard work and creativity.

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