Jul 9, 2009

Sheer perfection at Dior, Barong Tagalog anyone?

I know I missed a lot fashion-wise especially Menswear SS2010 shows while I was in the process of packing for cargo shipment, graduating, being a 'tour-guide' for my family in Russia and spending days and days traveling. Hence I'm slightly overwhelmed by the stack of headlines in my Google reader, and I definitely need PLENTY of time catching up. Thankfully for now time is quite a luxury by my side (oh MOH please don't summon me just yet!)


Ehem. A glance at the Sartorialist image yesterday intrigued me to take a look a little bit further on the details of this sheer Dior jacket. I share the same sentiment with Mr Schuman who stated "With the transparency of the jackets it would have been interesting to play with contrast colors for the layering pieces"... I for one would easily be drowned in the idea of styling these kinds of jackets in more ways than one.

The excitement did not stop there. Upon reading the first comment from Rylan, which read This reminds me of the traditional formal Filipino sheer dress shirts... made me think from where did house of Dior take their inspirations from, or maybe it's just a silly coincidence that insignificant bloggers like me want to bring up to light.

Well apparently that Filipino sheer dress shirt is called a Barong Tagalog (BT) and has its history way back even before the Spanish colonisation of the Philippines, where local men had to wear a shirt of flimsy and translucent fabric so that the Spaniards could confirm these guys are not carrying weapons etc.
A Barong Tagalog: the airiness of the fabric is perfect for our hot and humid tropics!

The BT actually had a modest beginning, when it was just a simple shirt worn by the natives and as time passed by, locals brushed elbows with the Europeans and gradually the design transformed as well. From a simple rough cotton shirt the style develops too, thanks to the injection of European aesthetics. These are all evident by the stand up collars and intricate embroidery detail on the chest.

spectacular details

The shirt's sheerness comes from traditional fabrics jusi and pina, and it is said weaving these types of fabrics is really a serious affair and only the skilled can produce them - which translates the rarity and expensiveness of this formal costume, much to my dismay!

me love them sheer!

Anyhow imaginations should not be held back, and I think there a ways to bend the rules to replicate this clothing in a cheaper, friendly-to-the-wallet way. I'm thinking some sheer fabric with some embroidery details on it (well this definitely refers to my mum's curtains around the house). And it's a given a trip to the tailor is perhaps vital too.

Oh wait to skip all that unnecessary burden, there's this online shop based in the US (how ironic) selling all kinds of BT styles. Upon perusal there are some styles that I like, but the fact that they sell them in US dollars kind of gave me a wet blanket. I'm sure a trip to the Philippines and buying the BT at a local store would be more sensible thing to do!

image credit: The Sartorialist, wikipedia, seasite.niu.edu

PS: Click here for some elaborate writing on BT, from which I based my facts about.


Giancinephile said...

The Barong Tagalog... well, the material is an interesting one but if I could have it my way I'll have the design more contemporary and more structured... sheer is always irresistible! I'm dying to wear my sheer shirt although I'm still having reservations... haha

Izzy said...

Love this post! I wish the barong tagalog could be reinterpreted successfully in a modern way. I haven't seen it done well yet.

Barry said...

A hand made, hand embroidered entirely piña barong is still expensive even even in the Philippines. The finest ones I've read are made by a company called "Bergamo". I've pulled up a page advertising a gift certificate for a Barong Tagalog set that is worth over P20,000, or about $447.72. Not cheap at all, even for us Filipino Americans (and about what you'd pay for one online here). Some fine ones can be had for cheaper, about P7,500 or $167.78 but again, not exactly a cheap garment if you want quality. It is sort of a dream for Filipinos to have a very finely tailored, hand embroidered all piña barong from the Philippines. The best are never machine made, but hand tailored over there.

As for the history, the Barong is actually based upon Spanish shirts of the 1700's. The commoners would have worn a cotton shirt typically, called a "camisa de chino" (which is very much what your shirt reminds me of). The Illustrado (wealthy Filipinos) wore a fancier shirt which eventually became the Barong Tagalog. The idea that it was sheer and untucked to prevent "hidden weapons" seems to be a bit of a myth, as it was more likely that the sheerness and loose fit was more due to the tropical climate. Fine, breezy, loose clothing is far more comfortable than tight, fitted, and solid. Authorities on the Baro say that it just looks better untucked (which I agree with). The Barong Tagalog is also considered formal wear. You only see your uncles and father wear one for important events. Filipino politicians also wear one and formal dinners at Malacañang palace I've heard call for "barong tagalog" instead of "suit and tie".

Pre-Spanish clothing varied among the tribes, but typically the men wore a colorfully woven loin cloth (bahag) with a sleeved, collarless jacket that was worn open but somewhat fitted. Women wore the same jacket, but they also wore a wrap skirt (tapis). Interestingly, this wrap skirt continues to be included in women's dress as a wrap over the skirt of any number of Women's costume. It's easily identifiable because it's usually a plaid pattern, and resembles an apron, somewhat.

Baro (which is the word for any shirt like garment in regard to the national costume), is cognate to Malay "baju". In my grandmother's language (Hiligaynon), I believe the cognate word is "bayu"

naboonies said...

Thank you Barry for the enlightening explanation. I'm enjoying my cheaper cotton Barong-esque shirt, but I'm sure having the real deal will surpass any expectation! But from the looks of it it is not very wallet friendly to have a fine Barong suit haha!

stephs said...

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