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Paul Cabral’s latest collection brings modernity to traditional clothing

by Gaby Agbulos

With reports from Bryan Gadingan

LAST February 27th, fashion designer Paul Cabral hosted the UNA Fashion Gala over at the Laperal Mansion (Arlegui Guest House) near Malacañang Palace. 

With over two decades worth of experience in the Philippine fashion industry, making clothing for a number of beloved celebrities, artists, and politicians, Cabral’s designs not only exceeded expectations but set a new standard for what Philippine fashion should be. 

As per writer Gerald Gloton, Cabral shone a spotlight on the piña fabric in his show, highlighting this textile that’s special because it’s often used in traditional Filipino clothing. This is something Cabral is known for: including Philippine textiles in his design, often doing so because of their lightweight, structural properties and their lustrous sheen. 

In his strive for perfection, he’s been able to elevate, develop, and innovate the traits of the piña fabric, applying it to this collection reminiscent of the 70s look.

This same incorporation of traditional Filipino aesthetics can be seen in his use of the Filipiniana and the barong Tagalog in his silhouettes, which are so often seen within his works that they’ve been deemed to be his signature aesthetic.

Given his impeccable craftsmanship, refined aesthetics, and attention to detail, it’s no wonder why his works have been seen on so many red carpets, in fashion editorials, and many other milestone events, and why he’s been referred to by many as the country’s current Fashion Master.

About Cabral

Cabral’s portfolio, at present, is unmatched. From making clothes from the likes of President Cory Aquino, President Joseph Estrada, First Lady Loi Ejercity, and President Noynoy Aquino to dressing all 21 world leaders and 15 first ladies at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation back in 2015, he is now designing gowns for First Lady Liza Araneta Marcos.

He is the person responsible for the stunning gowns she’s been wearing all over the world, with one of the most notable being the light blue gown that Marcos wore during the coronation of King Charles in the UK.

More than his fashion prowess, something else that’s admirable about Cabral is his heart. He has always shown support for causes important to him; with UNA, for example, he will be donating a portion of the profits to Fashion Aid Philippines, an organization focused on helping young Filipino talents. 

Paul hopes to unite all these talents, whether they be weavers, tailors, designers, beauty artists, or whatever else, in the growing fashion industry, celebrating both local culture and ingenuity. 

Bringing Philippine history to Gen Zs

With Cabral’s constant melding together of traditional Filipino looks with contemporary design elements and styles, his impact has transcended generations, even catching the eye of Gen Zs and Millenials with his works. 

At present, it’s sad to say that when looking for fashion inspiration now, many Filipinos often look towards international influences for guides instead of local ones. Just a simple look at Pinterest and you’ll notice that seldom are the outfits there worn by Filipinos, much less harboring any Filipino influence. 

If you were to ask someone when they last wore a Filipiniana or a barong Tagalog, they’ll probably answer that it was for a school event, or a wedding, or something similar. 

Cabral’s designs help to keep alive Philippine tradition. These forms of clothing that so many have been familiar with all their lives shouldn’t be boxed in, to be worn only for specific occasions; what’s stopping you from wearing a barong while running errands, or a Filipiniana when you’re off to a fancy dinner?

Cabral constantly pushes the box with his innovative designs, able to adapt to any new trends that may come his way while also managing to stay true to himself. With his designs, he helps people see that Filipino tradition and culture are things meant to be celebrated. 

If anything, it’s where the future of fashion lies. 

“I believe that a little twist and modern flair to our Filipiniana can boost the way fashion is going now,” Cabral explained in an interview with Philstar Life.

“It’s vital to keep the structure and design relevant to the younger generation.”

Photos courtesy of Dindo Gutierrez and Patrick Uy



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