20110601_pih_olivertolentinodress_inside.jpgLOS ANGELES--How would you like to wear a one-of-a-kind couture gown made from recyclable trash?

Well, fashion designer Oliver Tolentino has just made the “trash” fashionable when he created a unique gown made from your regular basura. And this is no trash talk!

Oliver, who was invited to the EcoChic event in Hong Kong recently revealed his latest newsworthy creation.

“It took about three weeks to create it,” he said. “Since I launched my RIIR (Rags2Riches) Oliver Tolentino handbags two weeks ago in Manila for the benefit of the Payatas women, I wanted to involve them in this project,” he said. “I'm not sure how many women worked on it but I met with about three or four of the Payatas women organizers and showed them what I wanted with macramé strips. They came back with the fabric strips and my people put them together on the dress.”

He added, “I got the plastic drinking straws, soft drink cans, water bottles, and bottle tops from my hometown of Orani, Bataan. I got the capiz shells from Samal, Bataan.

“The straws were folded origami-style into balls and my brother Ronald, who is very creative, helped bend the bottle tops with pliers to create pinwheel shapes which he painted in green. The Sprite bottles were cut to create a fan shape and the cans were cut in strips to use as accents. The shells were painted blue for embellishments.”

Oliver revealed how he got invited to the EcoChic event in Hong Kong: “The EcoChic events are organized by Redress, based in Hong Kong, and this is the organization that was so pleased with the piña terno I made for EcoChic Geneva that they invited me again. There were well known Hong Kong designers, of course, but also designers from all over the world. I was proud to represent the Philippines at EcoChic Hong Kong.”

20110601_pih_olivertolentinomakulaycollection_inside.jpgHe was, in fact, one of three fashion designers who were asked to explain his gown before the show. The other two designers were a well-known local Hong Kong designer named Dorian Ho and a London designer, Orsola de Castro, of the From Somewhere brand.

Oliver, who also represented the Philippines in the Eco Sustainable fashion show in Nassau, Bahamas last year, described how different his Hong Kong experience was from his Bahamas event.

“[It was very] different,” he said. “I used our indigenous fabrics for the Bahamas. For EcoChic Hong Kong, they tasked a group of about 30 designers from many countries with making a dress from recycled materials. They suggested that we could make a dress from three old dresses, for example, if we wanted to. But I wanted to challenge myself and make a gown from real recycled materials: trash.”

Asked what he gets and learns from participating in such events, Oliver said, “I'm always proud to represent the Philippines and, hopefully, to show others how creative we can be. I always learn new things from new challenges and that makes it exciting and worthwhile. It was fun to explore trash. I joked that I wanted the comment, ‘She looks trashy’ to be a compliment!”

Also involved in the Rags2Riches (RIIR) program in the Philippines, Oliver explained what the program is about, how he got involved, and his future plans with the program. “Rags2Riches is a program founded to help the women of Payatas. It has been endorsed by the Rolex Foundation and is known in international circles. Rags2Riches launched a handbag line made from factory scraps two years ago and for this year; I was asked to be their featured designer.”
He added, “I'm creating a line of RIIR Oliver Tolentino bags with two ‘seasons,’ which they will sell in upscale hotels and through their website. They have a strong following of supporters in Manila and their goals are to take the efforts internationally. I am volunteering my time in creating the line, but I will try to help Rags2Riches in whatever way I can. We launched my ‘maKULAY’ collection earlier this month in Greenbelt 5. The Payatas women were so happy with the outcome, and I am proud they rose to the challenge and made elegant bags that we are naming after historical Filipinas and my own mother. We will launch the next season of bags later this year.”

We can’t wait to see a Gabriela Silang bag matched with a recycled trash couture gown featured on the red carpet!

E-mail the writer at jrnepales_624@yahoo.com for your comments or questions.

(Photos courtesy of Oliver Tolentino)

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