In this era of haste and instant gratification, fewer things take time and handiwork to create. Fewer still are those who approach the creation of such things with reverence. One of them is 29-year-old designer Hannah Kong, who formally launched her debut collection on May 24, 2016 at Aruga by Rockwell. Dean & Deluca provided the hor d’oeuvres to go with the elegant Parisian theme.
The showcase features Hannah’s imaginings woven into life: 15 pieces of decadent broderie d’art occasion wear, most taking hundreds of hours of meticulous stitching, beadwork, and embroidery known as the Lunéville or Tambour technique. The young couturier is one of only few Filipinos so far who learned the craft at the Ecole Lesage Paris, established by renowned couture embroiderer François Lesage. The storied Maison Lesage goes back to 1924, and the couture house worked with fashion luminaries such as Elsa Schiaparelli, Yves Saint
Laurent, Christian Lacroix, Louis Vuitton, Valentino Garavani, Christian Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Chanel under Karl Lagerfeld. The latter acquired Lesage as part of the Maison Chanel in 2002, in efforts of preserving and promoting the craft of fashion artisan workshops.
It’s evident in her designs that apart from the skills she learned in the Professional Training for Haute Couture course, Hannah brought home from Paris this newfound appreciation for handcraftsmanship. The designer’s work may be likened to a painting. Her canvas: silk organza on an embroidery frame. Her brushes: needles and hooks. Her paints: threads, beads, and paillettes. Her chosen tools of trade allow for limitless options of material to play with: traditional fabrics, leather, metallics, mesh, precious stones, and virtually anything that can be sewn together to form intricate patterns that seem to float on a beautiful silhouette. She passed on her techniques and penchant for details to her staff, resulting in exquisite works of wearable art that speak for themselves.
Despite her relative newness, her creations have captured the fancy of editors, stylists, celebrities, and brides-to-be looking for the perfect dream of a dress.
“This collection is all about creating romantic, timeless pieces. It’s really in the details,” says Hannah. This is why for her, the success of the launch is as much on her staff. “I want to celebrate them. Their hands make the beautiful gowns. They are the real artisans behind each one.”
Hannah’s showcase harks back to her time in Ecole Lesage and all her experiences from the past few years since. Her dresses are named after teachers, roommate, earliest clients, and favorite French names. “My show is very
French, the feel of an afternoon stroll in the gardens of Versailles,” she says. “It’s an ode to my stay in Paris.” Down the line, Hannah Kong is looking into prêt-à-porter. “But our focus is custom bridal because I love being able to do a lot with a wedding dress,” she says. “I really love embroidery and I’m trying to push the craft. I want to show that there is so much more to it, it’s really an art”. If her debut is any indication, she is poised to succeed.
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