S and T Post Banner
Vol. XXVI, 1st Quarter
January–March 2008

Naturally-dyed Philippine fabrics for Ms. Earth beauties 2007

Ms Earth 2007, courtesy of Parallax StudioThe Ms. Earth 2007 Beauty Pageant showcased Philippine textiles dyed with natural dyes in their designer outfits during the coronation night on November 11, 2007, Sunday at the University of the Philippines Theater in Quezon City, Philippines.

The Philippine Textile Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology in collaboration with the Filipino-American designer, Mr. Anthony Cruz Legarda, developed colors and shades for pineapple-silk and Philippine silk fabrics.

Natural colors on piña-seda
Pineapple-silk, a blend of silk and pineapple fibers were dyed with pigments from various botanicals. The translucence of piña-seda renders the colors from the various dye sources with the subtle and sophisticated look.

"It has to be vibrant and solid…it has to be perfect," says Mr. Legarda. The colors for the pina-seda collection include bright shades of orange and yellow, a rich reddish brown, a deep black and a regal blue, thus highlighting the intensity and richness of natural colors.

Philippine silk
All reared, reeled, thrown and degummed, woven and dyed in the Philippines, raw silk fibers also made it to the collection. Unpopular as it is, Philippine silk will be presented in a rather rare form which goes against the stereotypical flowing character of silk. The drape and density of the fabrics offer a new dimension for Philippine silk which can include Filipino weave designs and patterns and thus carve its own niche as a staple textile material in the fashion scene.

These silk fibers underwent the throwing, degumming and weaving processes at the PTRI-DOST where they were also dyed with orange and black while some were retained in their pure white form.
"All permutations on silk were already exhausted, these form will certainly make a niche," revealed Mr. Legarda.

Ms Earth beauties 2007 courtesy of Parallax StudioNatural dyes
Natural dyes are colorants extracted from various natural sources by equally eco-friendly extraction methodologies. Among these various plant sources are the leaves of talisay (Terminalia catappa) tree which is grown for its shade and kogon grass (Imperata cylindrica) which grows rather very invasively in open lands.

Barks of mahogany (Switenia macrophylla King) gathered from fallen trees during the Typhoon Milenyo in 2006, annatto (Bixa orellana) seeds and yellow ginger (Curcuma longga) rhizomes produced from the first commercial plantation of annatto and yellow ginger devoted for textile coloration in Aklan and the Philippine indigo powder, produced from indigo (Indigofera tinctoria) plant materials also from Aklan were also used to dye the fabrics.

The technologies in the extraction and textile application of these plant sources is part of the package of technologies developed by PTRI-DOST. Years of research led to the development of modern and systematic approaches to natural dyeing that ensure repeatability and more superior fastness properties.

The PTRI is a line agency of the Department of Science and Technology and is the lead government agency undertaking natural dyes R&D for textile coloration in the Philippines.

The premium attained by hand weaving, the novelty of the pina-seda and the new form of Philippine silk converge in these collection developed by the technical expertise of PTRI and the fashion and artistic prowess of Mr. Legarda to give way to the renaissance of Philippine textiles. It shall then be known and measured not by yards but by how premium-ridden it can get.

The use of natural fibers is complimented by the infusion of natural colors to give an exciting fabric for equally exotic shapes and forms of women's wear.

Shapes and forms
The collaboration of PTRI and Mr. Legarda produced eco-clothing for the Top Eight finalist of the Pageant. It was an ensemble of rich colors and a fusion of art and science revealed in a very chic and elegant way. Characterized by billowed floppy sleeves and a light aura and buoyant feeling, the collection exudes not just style but its being close to nature and attuned with the heart string of Mother earth's bountiful resources that were made into these clothing by the skillful and artistic hand of Filipino artisans and experts.

PTRI takes pride in dressing Ms Earth 2005 Priscilla Meirelles of Brazil who hosted the event. Co hosting was Thai MTV VJ Uttsada Pannicul who wore a piña-seda version of the tuxedo.

This year's Miss Earth pageant popularized naturally dyed Philippine textile, through an eco-clothing line that highlights the textile material, color, and weave of the design. It is a blend of all natural materials, colors, and the richness of Philippine heritage that meets the vogue shapes and designs of glamorous fashion trends in the luminary capitals of high end clothing all over the world.

True to its ideals of beauties for a cause, Carousel Productions, the producers of Ms. Earth believes that beauty queens are fitting and effective advocates of worthy causes. What better compliment to the advocacy of Ms. Earth than actually wearing them rather than merely talking about them.