Bilibid designers showcase gown creations in fashion show
“Orange is the new black” in the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City as 50 inmates showcased casual wear, long gowns and avant-garde attires in a fashion show.
The convicted criminals were chosen as part of Bilibid’s alternative livelihood program through the guidance of designer Puey Quiñones.
Given the freedom to show their creativity, the convicts—all men—used shears instead of daggers in their cells to come up with designs meant for men and women.
Quiñones said the fashion show was the culmination of a yearlong workshop on tailoring, pattern-making, sewing and yes, designing.
In the fourth year of the project, the designer decided to come up with the fashion show with professional models to don the inmates’ designs.
The project started in 2007 when Quiñones was invited to help inmates for an alternative livelihood program.
“It took me two months before I agreed to join the project because I was scared. But when I got to know them, I was surprised to see so much talent here,” said Quiñones.
He said he was amazed to find hardened criminals with soft spots and artistic inclinations.
“It changed my perspective. I finally agreed when I saw the need for proper clothing and for putting the talent of the inmates to good use,” said the designer.
The inmates were divided into four groups to design 25 clothes, which will be made available to the public after the show.
“If the works would catch the eye of possible sponsors, the proceeds will go to the family of the designers. It’s a different world here, but they have so much talent,” said Quiñones.
Quiñones, who saw the potential in the works of his students, pooled resources and donated sewing machines, textiles and basic materials for the project.
Superintendent Richard Schwarzkopf said the program would soon benefit other inmates because the designers would become the pioneers of an in-house tailoring unit.
The unit is expected to produce “fashionably orange uniforms” for inmates.
“For now, we are spending for uniforms made by tailors from Tesda-accredited companies, but we thought this project could be a good start for our plan to make our own tailoring unit,” Schwarzkopf said.
He said the workshop was part of Bilibid’s rehabilitation program.
He declined to give the identities of the Bilibid designers and their cases for their protection.