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A tribute to Filipina and her traditional dress

Edgar San Diego crossed over from fashion design to visual arts during the start of the lockdown last year. 

SM senior vice president for marketing communications Millie Dizon, fashion designer and artist Edgar San Diego, and Abby San Diego pose with ‘Portrait of an Old Soul 1’ (left), San Diego’s acrylic on canvas featuring his daughter Abby as model. 
With nothing much to do at home after turning 60 two days before Metro Manila was placed under community quarantine, the fashion and costume designer decided to pick up his brushes and called his canvas supplier, who was happy to oblige to his requests. 

He asked his daughter Abby to pose for his desired angle and lighting, and from there he based his first obra maestra titled “Portrait of an Old Soul 1”. 

Consequently, he created one to two paintings weekly, all of which he shared on Facebook and by his daughter on Instagram, and later showcased at his first solo exhibit, dubbed Baro’t Saya Tuwa at Ligaya, at the Mega Fashion Hall of SM Megamall.

Hand-painted Maria Clara top over a green de cola skirt by Edgar 
San Diego
Anchored on the theme “Tribute of joy to the Filipina and her traditional dress amidst the pandemic”, San Diego’s art show highlighted his love for the beautiful Filipina, traditions, costumes, and production design, keeping in mind that the colors are bright and the subjects are happy to create positive vibes.

These characters, “in idyllic repose and against backdrops of elegant ancestral mansions or scenic landscapes, bring to life the traditions of the past and leisurely pace of life that live on in old photographs and in the stories of those who lived during those tranquil times.”

Modern bridesmaid’s gowns accented by pañuelo and tapis displayed in between Art Nouveau Panels in mixed media.
San Diego says his works are his personal statements on nationalism. 

“My paintings are unchanging in their presentation of Filipiniana themes, evident in the costumes, the furniture, the settings, and the scenarios that find their way into my canvas,” he says. “These are the expressions of my love for country and its history.”

A dress with modern kimona sleeves, serpentina sleeves, and chiffon train displayed next to ‘Kwentuhan sa Hardin’.
Hopefully, he adds, “through my visual creations, I could encourage and inspire others, especially the younger generations of Filipinos, to develop an interest in our country’s fascinating history and our rich cultural heritage”.

The exhibit, which ran from Oct. 9 to 15, also highlighted the designer’s exquisite hand-painted Filipiniana gowns including a Maria Clara top over a green de cola skirt; a blush pink Maria Clara gown with black accent on the baro, pañuelo, and tapis; and a modern Maria Clara wedding ensemble, among others.

‘Rosa’, in between a modern terno with a printed skirt and a modern checkered trapeze opera coat and black serpentina gown underneath.
San Diego graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in Fine Arts major in Advertising. He worked as a hand painter on formal wear for a number of Filipino designers. He also worked as a window display artist. He was invited and became the youngest pioneer of the Fashion Designers Association of the Philippines where he eventually served as president for eight years. In 1989, he represented the Philippines to the ASEAN Fashion Connections in Singapore. 

His awards and citations include Haute Couture Designer of the Year in the Manila Fashion Designers Awards in 1989; Grand Prix Best Costume Award in Carnival in Rio in Manila; Outstanding Alumni of UST College of Fine Arts and Don Bosco Technical Institute; and five-time winner in the Annual Flores de Mayo at The Manila Hotel.

San Diego’s ’Portrait of an Old Soul 2’ displayed next to his modern Maria Clara wedding gown. 
As a costume designer, San Diego’s credits include Repertory Philippines’ “The Wizard of Oz”, “The Man of La Mancha”, “M Butterfly”, “Aladdin”, “The Sound of Music”, and more; Trumpets’ “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, and “Little Mermaid”; and Newport Theater’s “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”. He also made costumes for Star Cinema’s “Sarah ang Munting Princesa” and “Ceddie”.

Topics: Edgar San Diego , Portrait of an Old Soul 1 , Baro’t Saya Tuwa at Ligaya
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