Unlike previous seasons of New York Fashion Week (NYFW), last month's Fall/Winter show was noticeably muted with a bevy of high-profile designers opting out of the spectacle. But there was still much to see, among them the runway debut of a Filipina plus-size model.
True, the likes of Tommy Hilfiger and Vera Wang held their own shows elsewhere, while Filipino Americans Monique Lhuillier and Josie Natori did private presentations for press and corporate clients.
Las Vegas-based couturier David Tupaz, however, showcased his stunning collection at Madison Square Garden (MSG), joining a dozen others for Style Fashion Week's unprecedented event.
Meanwhile, Rocky Gathercole, avant-garde designer from Dubai, and Resty Lagare, who is a designer for Alexander McQueen in Paris, shared a few of their equally breathtaking pieces with Art Hearts Fashion at Angel Orensanz Foundation, a neo-gothic landmark in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
Over at Hotel Pennsylvania, just across from MSG, a Filipina from the San Francisco Bay Area has reached her dream of walking the runway during NYFW.
"I had an amazing time modeling at NYFW. It was my first time and the experience was so memorable," fashion columnist Trina Soledad told INQUIRER.net.
"Strutting [on] the catwalk was a childhood dream of mine, so modeling in the fashion capital of the world, New York City, was beyond my wildest dreams," she added.
Soledad participated in the "Runways on Fire" show on February 10, "ASC Fashion Week" on February 11 and "Runway The Real Way" on February 12. She is the first-ever, full-figured Filipina to grace the runways of NYFW.
"It means a lot to me because it's about time that the fashion world shone a light on Filipina models especially the plus-sizes," she said.
"I want to show the world that Filipina plus-size models can rock the runway too. There was a void on the runways before as only size 00-6 and female models with a minimum height of 5'7 above were showcased. 'Everyday women' wear a minimum size 6 and are 5 feet 3 inches tall. I love that we [are] now living in a generation of body diversity where women of all sizes, shapes and colors are showcased on the runways, magazines, TV and billboards," she added.
Soledad started pursuing her passion for modeling back in 2013 as a volunteer for charity fashion shows. For this year's shows, she submitted model comp cards and runway walk videos online to model casting calls. The three shows that booked her were all about diversity and inclusiveness, showcasing models with different shapes, sizes, heights, ethnicities, genders and colors.
"I am not the typical size 2, 5'10" runway model. But with hard work, dedication and passion, I was able to penetrate the fashion industry representing 'curvy women.' I was fortunate enough to have modeled for local Bay Area designers and international designers as well. After modeling for a couple of years, I was selected to be the brand ambassador for both GNS Threads and Crisanta Couture Designs. And I am delighted to share the good news that after NYFW, I was invited to become a brand ambassador for a clothing line," she told INQUIRER.net.
Message to women
Her message to women, especially young girls: Don't be pressured by what society wants you to look like.
"As long as you are healthy, happy and positive, then your size or weight should not matter. Focus on being the best version of yourself, inside and out. I am so happy and thrilled that we are now finally showing the world a diverse and inclusive industry. Fashion should be for everyone," she said.
For Soledad, who sees and believes beauty is beyond size, fashion is also about "expressing yourself."
"It has no boundaries. As long as you are happy and you feel fabulous wearing your clothes then it's all good, rock it! Fashion shows shouldn't be limited to highlighting women wearing a standard size 00-4 with a height of 5'7 or taller. We have to showcase all shapes, sizes and heights so that the consumers will have an idea what the clothes look like on their bodies. I am glad that the fashion industry is finally celebrating a variety of shapes, sizes, height, colors and race," she said.