How de­signer Jes­san Ma­catan­gay found beauty and power in the midst of a pan­demic

BusinessMirror - - Style - JES­SAN MA­CATAN­GAY com­plete col­lec­tion.

IMAG­INE be­ing stuck in a for­eign coun­try alone at the height of a pan­demic that has put the world at a stand­still. Now pic­ture your­self be­ing a fash­ion de­sign stu­dent who’s on the brink of fi­nally con­clud­ing his four-year jour­ney in one of the world’s most pres­ti­gious art schools— a feat you sin­gle­hand­edly worked hard to achieve and some­how came ac­com­pa­nied by high ex­pec­ta­tions from friends and fam­ily back home. You won­der how this global cri­sis will af­fect your ed­u­ca­tion. Will you be able to fly back home with your head held high say­ing, “Look! I fi­nally did it”?

Cooped up in your flat, frus­trated and home­sick, you re­ceive news that you will not be given the same kind of sup­port pre­vi­ous grad­u­ates have had for your fi­nal show. With lock­down re­stric­tions in place, your school has de­cided that it’s best if every­one who can pro­vide you sup­port—seam­stresses, wood and me­tal work­ers, even the ones who have ac­cess to your school’s fab­rics—stay safe in their homes.

These are just some of the things that Lon­don-based fash­ion de­signer Jes­san Ma­catan­gay had to over­come re­cently in or­der to earn his de­gree at Cen­tral Saint Martins, the same school that gave us iconic de­sign­ers Stella Mccart­ney, John Gal­liano and Alexan­der Mcqueen.

Orig­i­nally from Batan­gas, the set­backs caused by the pan­demic awak­ened the Batangueño fighter spirit in him. In­stead of giv­ing up, he took this chance to show every­one that with hard work, re­source­ful­ness and de­ter­mi­na­tion, any­thing is pos­si­ble.

“The first few weeks af­ter the lock­down was an­nounced was the hard­est for me,” shares Ma­catan­gay. “We needed to move our work from the uni­ver­sity to our homes. I con­sid­ered fly­ing back to Manila to be with my fam­ily but thought it was wiser to stay in Lon­don since my sewing ma­chine and ba­sic tools are all here. My fi­nal col­lec­tion is quite dif­fer­ent from how I en­vi­sioned it be­fore the pan­demic. I needed to change a lot of things, from the de­sign to the ma­te­ri­als and the process by which I was go­ing to make them. More than any­thing else, I was re­ally grate­ful for the guid­ance of my tu­tors from the uni­ver­sity.”

He said that one of the big­gest hur­dles he had to face was hav­ing to change his mind­set to fit the sit­u­a­tion—mak­ing do with the limited ac­cess to re­sources and fa­cil­i­ties that would al­low him to cre­ate his pieces.

“I had to buy fab­rics on­line, which meant I had very limited choices. I only used two fab­rics for the en­tire col­lec­tion, ly­cra and cot­ton. I also had a bit of silk satin, which I was able to use. I dyed and dig­i­tally printed my fab­rics to achieve the looks I wanted. For the pieces that re­quired me­tal- and wood­work­ing, I worked with scraps and what­ever I could get my hands on. It made me re­al­ize that what I was go­ing through com­pletely re­flected the con­cept of my grad­u­a­tion col­lec­tion, which is find­ing beauty and power in the midst of strug­gle. As I faced the dis­ap­point­ment and frus­tra­tion of the whole sit­u­a­tion, I redis­cov­ered my in­spi­ra­tion for do­ing what I do as well as re­silience. I felt strong and em­pow­ered see­ing my fi­nal gar­ments come to­gether un­der these cir­cum­stances.”

Chal­leng­ing as it was, all of Ma­catan­gay’s hard work paid off. His five-piece col­lec­tion (every­one else only had three pieces) was one of his batch’s stars, and was even high­lighted in in­ter­na­tional pub­li­ca­tions, like Vogue, New York Times, Grazia and Net-a-porter. Ma­catan­gay’s vis­ually strik­ing fi­nal col­lec­tion sym­bol­izes how peo­ple carry the weight of per­sonal strug­gles.


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