How sustainable designer Chona Bacaoco overcame bullying early in her career –


MM Milano models travel the world to showcase the company’s sustainable designs. | AJPress Photo by Momar G. Visaya

Milanese designer Chona Bacaoco became emotional after a successful fashion show at the Angel Orensanz Foundation on New York’s Lower East Side last week during New York Fashion Week.

As this is the third time she has showcased her designs in the Big Apple, Bacaoco recalled how she was bullied early in her career and how she used the experience to motivate herself and work hard every time. day.

“It’s like a dream come true for me,” she said. “After being bullied in the industry, they said I was not qualified to be a designer, and now that we are traveling the world, our family has grown. We just did New York Fashion Week, Dubai Fashion Week, Paris Fashion Week!

Chona Bacaoco describes this yellow number as her “mango dress” in honor of her hometown, Guimaras. | AJPress Photo by Momar G. Visaya

Some of her colleagues in the industry put her down for not studying fashion design. They didn’t know it, Bacaoco grew up with a mother who was a trusted seamstress in their hometown of Guimaras. Determined to make her dreams come true, Bacaoco planned and designed the trajectory of her life from an early age.

“I think it’s all about my personal mission, the sincerity of believing in yourself, even though the rest of the world might not believe kung ano ang makakaya mo, but I think I’m my number one fan. So, going to New York, going to Paris Fashion Week, working with Michael Cinco… he was really my mentor. He’s my number one support when others don’t believe in me, he’s the one who told me ‘Kaya mo yan‘and I admire him and he supports me, I am grateful to him, “she said.

Loud and proud Ilongga, Bacaoco incorporates the local hablon fabric into the dresses they create. Hablon is Iloilo’s traditional fabric made from pineapple and abaca fibers and they combine them with organic fabrics from Italy and Germany. She also works with small antique weavers, providing them with subsistence projects.

“It’s not easy to be a sustainable designer because your sources are limited, but if you want to do it you can really make it all possible,” she joked. “We are happy to help our community there in the Philippines.

An emerging sustainable brand from Milan, Italy and Frankfurt, Germany, MM Milano strongly believes in inclusion.

“This is one of our core values,” Bacaoco noted.

She also credited 83-year-old Frank Lam for showing the world he can rock the track. | AJPress Photo by Momar G. Visaya

That’s why one of the touching moments that marked their earlier show was when Frank Lam, an 83-year-old grandfather, paraded the runway and modeled the costumes for MM Milano.

Bacaoco said that seeing Lam walking the track amid the cheers and applause from the audience was a very emotional moment for her as she had imagined her father walking one day in one of his shows.

Besides being her own brand, Bacaoco is also a talent consultant, and they help young talents who want to express their creativity through MM Milano, which she started as a modeling agency in 2016.

The first part of the fashion show featured their Pluto line, designed by 13-year-old talent Pluto Ernsberger from Ohio.

“It’s futuristic and galactic, the fabrics are organic fabrics from Milan, Germany. A lot of them are hablons, but you can’t see it because we mainly use nature, ”she explained. “I know I should use a traditional pattern, but I tried to make it more modern so that it was wearable because our market is more international.”

Chona Bacaoco and her business partner Andreas Volkmar greet the audience’s applause after presenting the latest collections from MM Milano in New York. | AJPress Photo by Momar G. Visaya

Andreas Volkmar, German music composer, model and financial consultant is Bacaoco’s partner at MM Milano. He is grateful for everything she has done for the agency.

“The partnership with Chona is really amazing. We are so connected, we complement each other so much, she is so awesome, ”he said.

Their team had to quarantine themselves for 14 days in Dubai before coming to the United States due to COVID-19 regulations. They ended up doing photoshoots over the course of those two weeks as they finalized the looks of the 24 models who were going to walk in New York City.

The New York fashion show almost did not take place as organizers decided to cancel it due to numerous COVID-19 restrictions. Some of their talents have already booked their flights and hotels in New York while they were waiting for it in Dubai. Fortunately, another group stepped in at the right time.

Rest is for the tired because right after New York, the team will return to Milan to prepare their show at Palazzo Barozzi. After it is a big show in Paris alongside Michael Cinco.

Looking back, Bacaoco said she was happy with what she has accomplished so far, but won’t stop anytime soon.

“I’m so proud of myself,” she said. “I’ve always believed in not letting anyone tell you what to say. You are the one who designs your future and your life. We are the designer of our life.

“So, kung in-To allow ko lang young mga nang-bu-bully his relatives, na I’m not supposed to be a designer kasi hindi naman ako nag-aral maging designer, I won’t be here at the moment so I really fought. I told myself that I won’t prove myself to them but I will prove it to myself n / A, we do not need to have ten degrees, what is important is kung ano ang gusto nating gawin. “

Momar G. Visaya

Momar G. Visaya is the editor of the Asian Journal. You can reach him at [email protected]

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