A Hijab Stylist Is Bringing Back the Glory of An Ancient Textile
by Joean “Iman” Montayre
Perhaps, one of the most significant discoveries launching Philippine Modest Fashion through Modest Fashion Manila’s 1st Philippine International Virtual Modest Fashion Show is the discovery of the first professional hijab stylist and designer in the country –Princess Jehanne Mangondato- Dimaporo.
“Sukip is my main material for my designs. SUKIP means “to insert pattern” or to “insert design” which is a product of Maranao local weavers. The maranao weavers used BONIL THREAD for the sukip. For some people sukip is commonly known as LANGKIT. The SUKIP is commonly attached or used to design gowns or suit for maranao males. Sometimes they used this as an ID lace or earrings. “
The rise of garment imports that supply the fashion market in the Philippines has put this ancient art at risk of extinction. A lot of the younger generation are not even aware of their own heritage which has its roots tied to their ancestral majesties. In fact, when Jehanne went to the local weavers to buy sukip from a local artisan in Marawi, the latter was teary-eyed because the young generations barely look for it.
Apart from disinterest in the fashion of the older generation, another peril is the fabric itself. Sukip is a hardy and thick woven fabric which makes it hard to manipulate to fit in today’s silhouettes. As styles and trends evolve, many local dressmakers find little to no way to utilize the fabric. However, Princess Jehanne, with her magical hands and creative ingenuity, took command of the fabric and transform it into a wearable contemporary piece of clothing.
Without proper fashion training, Jehanne took a while to decide where to begin with her collection. It was her grandmother who introduced dressmaking as she would frequent visits to her home back in her childhood years. Gladly, with the help and encouragement of her parents and kin, she came up with utilizing this ancient fabric. The fabric came along with Austronesian settlers that came all the way from Formosa.
” My parents were my inspiration for my designs. Being a daughter of a diplomat I was given a chance to travel abroad and my dad will always remind me to support our local products even if we are not physically present in the Philippines. He will always tell us that by simple gestures like “buying Philippine products will help and improve our country’s economy.” My mom who is born and raised in Marawi City would always represent herself in a diplomatic party wearing a maranao gown. I remember my mom who constantly makes sure we have a maranao gown to wear in a diplomat’s party overseas. Our maranao gowns will always have a priority spot in our baggage. Weeks before our flight she will personally buy a malong or langkit or sukip from the local maranao weavers. My grandmother who is a local couturier in Marawi City will perfectly tailored our gowns and my mom will add beads intricately in our gowns to make it look stunning. Overall, it may be said that I was raised by my parents to be proud of our cultures and traditions because it is the one that determines our identity. Lastly, I thank Allah SWT for giving me a unique talent.”
Jehanne uses elements that interlace with her people’s history and culture. Every piece in her collection portrays symbolism found in every Maranao household, such as the crown (see photos above). In the past, Maranao chiefs and royal families wear these types of crowns as a symbol of nobility.
Then there is the brooch which is almost a Maranao fashion staple. Jehanne employed the fabric geometrically folded and manipulated to form a beautiful array of colors and patterns. These pieces display a glamorous way to wear your identity anywhere, anytime! These handmade haute couture brooches are versatile and can elevate any boring outfit.
The collection is a mesmerizing mix of traditional hand-woven fabric and contemporary materials, in an array of colorful hijab showcases. Its unique flavor added a majestic feel to Princess Jehanne’s Sukip Collection; owing to the princes and princesses, the datu, and the sultans of their beautiful land.
“Being a hijab stylist I decided to use sukip as my main material and made a design that will match the scarf and let the new generation appreciate the sukip in this way I will able to help the local maranao weavers in our place. Using this material as a scarf accessory is not that easy. You need to be creative in designing the SUKIP that will perfectly fit the head and can be easily attached to the scarf.”
Whether it is a headband, fascinator, crown, or brooch, the sukip proves itself that it is woven into the fabric of the Maranao people’s narratives. The legacy will thrive as long as artists like Jehanne Mangodato-Dimaporo continue to bring into the limelight her people’s identity that evokes a sense of pride and majesty.