TWINKLE FERRAREN -- an islandwear designer creating collections and pieces inspired by art dreams, the tropics, made together with artisans and tribes from around the Philippine Islands; creating ethically-sourced and sustainably-made fashion wearables, textiles and accessories. Playing with a rich variety of materials (textiles) made with natural fibers such as pineapple, silk, cotton and abaca (Manila hemp).
TF clothes use textile techniques such as screen-printing, embroidery and beadwork utilising artisanal craftsmanship skills. Proudly using Filipino indigenous and natural materials to make up the collection, sourcing materials locally and supporting communities. Styles are hand made, hand painted and hand beaded, showcasing the Philippines' tropical and islandic iconography.
* * *
Philippine-born-London-trained designer, Twinkle Ferraren, started out in the industry designing fashion accessories. A true child of Summer however, it wasn’t long before Twinkle ventured into designing island wear – chic and sassy, one-of-a-kind, organically inspired swimwear that now make up the eponymous brand of resort wear line famous for its use of indigenous Philippine materials and processes.
One of Twinkle’s fondest projects was a joint fashion show with Ditta Sandico sometime in 2004 where she showcased a line of weaves designed for a younger set of audience – it was there that the intrepid designer passionately declared her dream of going global with a full-range clothing line using Philippine weaves. Nine years later, Twinkle’s star shines bright as we witness that dream come true when she showcased her collection in the runways of Europe during the Fibre Filippine event held in Rome in October of 2013.
Twinkle’s latest endeavor is the result of years of weaving dreams together – dreams for and of the industry, the country, the heritage that she loves. She merges her vision of promoting the use of homegrown textiles and materials in a clothing line that demonstrates a truly modern and global aesthetic designed for a market that dares to veer away from fast mass market fashion - environment and ecologically aware yet edgy and trendsetting, modern but with a touch of tradition, youthful and classic at the same time.
A study in contrasts beautifully blended together. Redesigning Tradition. Imagine…Philippine weaves in modern silhouettes. This encapsulates Twinkle Ferraren’s design aesthetic as she translates and redesigns traditional Philippine fabrics into an easy to wear, mix, and match collection thru a marriage of materials – the beauty of hand-woven fabrics mixed effortlessly with the versatility of more mainstream fabrics. The process is not without its challenges though. But Twinkle faces these challenges with a quick wit and gumption reminiscent of glittering stars of old Hollywood films – a certain courage to see past the challenges and to dream beyond the obvious and a stick-to-it-ness attitude that reveals her resolve to put Philippine weaves front and center in both local and international fashion maps. She acknowledges that, “yes, supply can be erratic, consistency is still something that needs to be improved, and different textiles have their own distinct textures, falls, and movements which can be a very exacting challenge when it comes to designing something that suits the fabric”, but these limitations and challenges are the very same aspects of the craft that inspires Twinkle to continue experimenting and trying out different styles and techniques in order to expand her collection.
And so, when asked why she seems to have such an affinity with traditional fabrics, Twinkle practically gushes, “simply put, these are such beautiful fabrics. I love the texture, the sheerness, how you can see and feel the grains of the fabric. The unevenness and imperfections make each fabric unique. That we’ve grown accustomed to wearing them only for formal occasions is such a shame. And it’s sad how the younger generation may not even see them as an option. So, what I hope to achieve, is to incorporate these traditional fabrics in everyday wear or what you may already have in your wardrobe that you can just mix it up and style it with a piece here and there. These are all so beautiful and it’s better to see them worn and admired up close and personal than viewed thru glass cases in museums, walls, or worse, just used as table mats.”
Apart from being drawn to the natural beauty of traditional Philippine fabrics such as Piña, Abel, Abaca, Hablon, Pisyabit, and T’nalak, Twinkle’s passion for using these fabrics in her collections stems from her desire to help nourish tradition and culture passed on thru generations of hand-weavers and along the way sustain livelihoods that support communities. Her ideology points her to the direction of using ecological, sustainable, and ethical materials and methods, as much as possible, in her creations. From vests to men’s polo shirts to dresses and skirts all the way to accessories such as belts, scarves, and bags, one can then easily recognize a Twinkle Ferraren piece by the stylish blending of indigenous materials with more mainstream fabrics tied together into a coherent whole by certain embellishments that characterize her pieces.
Embellishments that are neither insignificant nor superfluous but seemingly organically incorporated into her designs. Twinkle recounts that she “draws inspiration from the patterns and fabrics themselves. I’ve also always been partial to geometric and tribal designs – simple yet evocative of nature. You’ll find geometric florals and repeating patterns in my work”. Indeed, one can see that Twinkle’s approach to embellishments make for simple yet stylish add-ons that do not overwhelm the natural beauty of the fabrics she uses. But the question remains, will her creations be appreciated by the fashion industry? Or perhaps an equally important concern for any designer, how does she see the public that is so used to mass-market-fast-fashion responding her work? On this Twinkle reflects on her experiences over the years and the response she received from exhibiting her latest endeavors at Fibre Filippine in 2013. It was not just that the response was simply positive. What emboldens her is that her creations attracted a demographic that was eager and proud to own and showcase Philippine-made-from-Philippine-fabrics-designs coupled with the general feeling that her creations transcended cultural differences and cut across borders – it appealed to both those with Filipino heritage and those who may not know much of Filipino culture, were looking for a way to spice up their wardrobe with ethnic yet modern pieces. For Twinkle, this response reinforces her belief that there is a market for the kind of clothes she creates - one that is not wrought to blindly follow trends but bold enough to experiment and take a chance on her designs; designs that showcase the astonishing beauty of the Philippines’ traditional fabrics in a modern way.
When the question turns then to as to whom she designs for, Twinkle, with a twinkle in her eye, readily answers, “my muse has always been, in my mind, this globe-trotting-tribal-girl-in-the city”.
From that it is easy to see how her collections are influenced to appeal to the well-travelled woman who knows that her roots can transcend borders, and is proud to show it, fearless, laid-back, and always so effortlessly chic.
Twinkle’s plans of coming up with sub-brands or labels for her different collections as she targets different sub-markets. At this point, her journey as a designer is one that may be described as going “into the blue”, where the future is yet unknown and there is a vast space looming in the horizon. But, for anyone who’s had a chance to meet Twinkle, going into the blue is something that this gutsy designer will not only willingly face as a challenge and meet it head on, but it will also be something she’ll revel in and turn it into something striking to wear.
Showed in Philippine Fashion Week: (2006-2009)
PFW: May 2006 "Tribal Sunset" (10-piece)
PFW: April/May 2007 "Jellyfish In Love" (10-piece)
PFW: Holiday 2008 "Electro Techno in the Metro" (30-piece)
PFW: Spring/Summer 2008 "Liquid Sea Space" (10-piece)
PFW: Holiday 2009 "Raindrop Happiness & Tribal Waves" (10-piece)
PFW: Spring/Summer 2009 "Cosmic Botanicals" (45-piece)
* * *
Design Festa Fashion Show + Exhibit - Tokyo, Japan; November 2005
Art Fashion Show at PINTO Gallery, Antipolo; May 2006
Exhibited at Manila F.A.M.E. Expo: Oct 2009, Apr / Oct 2010, Oct 2011
Exhibited at BIFF & BIL, Bangkok, Thailand; April 2010
Exhibited at TIGS [Tokyo International Gift Show], Tokyo, Japan; September 2010
Showed at the International Hanji Festival, Jeonju, Korea; May 2011
Exhibit Paper Swim Wear at Sexta Carta IAPMA 25th Anniversary Exhibition, Italy; July 2011
Exhibited during the International Textile Congress, Bandung, Indonesia; October 2011
Exhibited during the International Textile Congress, Seoul, Korea; October 2012
Speaker Representative for Philippine Delegation, 4th ASEAN Traditional Textile Symposium,
Thai Nguyen, Vietnam; March 2013
FIBRE FILIPPINE Piña-Abaca-Banana Goes To Rome Fashion Exhibition & Show, Rome, Italy; October 2013
MANILA WEAR | Manila F.A.M.E. Special Settings - October 2013
MANILA WEAR | Manila F.A.M.E. - March 2014
MANILA WEAR | Manila F.A.M.E. - October 2014
WEAR ABEL at PINTO Museum; February 1, 2015
Co-Curator & Exhibit "Walong Filipina" at The Philippine Embassy, Washington DC, USA; June 8-19, 2015
"Daang Krus" [Fil-Am Heritage/History Month] at Bliss On Bliss, Queens, New York, USA; October 25, 2015
Showcased "TexSTYLE Speak" at "I Am The Dream My Ancestors Dream Would Free Them" at Queens Museum, New York, USA; February 21, 2016
"ORIGIN (Pinagmulan)" Art Exhibit Story-telling ::: John Olivares, Marleena Litton, Joey Ayala & Twinkle Ferraren, Art Circle Cafe, Manila, Philippines; August 7, 2016
"BEQUESTS: Mesh | Weft & Warp | Backstrap | Loop" A Multi-Media Art Fashion Show Event | ESCape Project at HUB MakeLab, Escolta, Manila, Philippines; August-September, 2016
Philippine Textile Exhibit with PTRI (Philippine Textile Research Institute) at the Philippine Senate; February 6-9, 2017
"ENDANGERED SPECIES" A Multi-Media Exhibit / Fashion Show, BGC Arts Center, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City; June 11, 2017
* * *
Works and collaborates with weavers from different tribes & weaving communities around the Philippine Islands
* * *
Artist Liason for Jason Dodge "Woven Blankets" / Galleria Franco Noero, Italy; Sept/Oct, 2015
Works with various local and indigenous fabrics and materials from around the islands; using hand-embroidered embellishments in swimwear, resortwear and other separates.
ISLAND WEAR DESIGNER