by Demi Rosseau

Nurainie in her signature suit (Photo Courtesy of Hilyah Signorina )

There is something about jewels that parallels with the person of Nuraine Ampatuan, a designer from Davao City Philippines. Being the current crowned “Hiyas ng Kadayawan” (Jewel of Kadayawan) a beauty pageant for the indigenous people of Davao, her clothing brand Hilyah Signorina- which name was also inspired by a jewelry her aunt gave, this lady’s creative soul and jewels seem to interconnect spontaneously.

Before deciding to become a designer, Nurainie, spent 2 years studying Nursing driven by the affinity to take care of her grandmother and her ambition to become a doctor. Whilst having medical issues herself, completing Nursing course became difficult, she studied fashion design and in turn of events, she realized she wanted to be a fashion designer the moment she took part in Jakarta, Modest Fashion Week as a fashion influencer, where her fervour for fashion since she was a child became imminent and pursued her dream to start a brand of her own.

Hilyah Signorina Denim jackets with Inaul accent

Hilyah Signorina; a fusion of an Arabic and Italian word, for which the former means “jewel”, the latter a  “lady” or a title given to a woman, could also be denoted to this jewel of the festival the city of Davao celebrates every year. But in the case of her brand’s designs, the Inaul is the ornament that reflects the rich culture of various communities and tribes inhabiting within and the surrounding areas. Her vision is to bridge these communities through modest fashion by utilizing the beautiful hand-woven fabrics and patterns the communities are creating for generations since the ancient into her contemporary clothing designs. Since it’s realization in 2018, the culture of Mindanao tribes and communities became an endemic trademark of this multi-fashion brand.

Hilyah Signorina aims to cater every fashion category with its unique touch from casual every-day wear to luxury wear such as special events and bridal gowns, and in the light of Covid- protective masks matched with a headbands and head covers.

With design inspiration which includes Chanel, Alexander McQueen, H&M and Michael Cinco, Nuraine designs the patterns of the fabrics and beadings that she incorporates, which according to her has meanings and backstories. For example, the wedding gown she designed in 2019 has a bodice designed with a Mindanao tribal art pattern in rhinestones, glass beads and crystals.

The tribal pattern on the bodice of Hilyah Signorina’s wedding gown design

Hilyah Signorina not only thrives to be a brand recognized by her fellow countrymen, but also the world over. She wants to pave way for the outside world to understand and get a glimpse of the diverse communities in the south of Philippines through her brand and eventually get the near- endangered art a revival. The brand already made several appearances in local fashion shows and had been featured in local news.

Indeed, Nuraine is deserving of the title as the “Jewel of Kadayawan, for her beauty and brains but what holds more true is that she is a true jewel of a person with immense creative talent and heart for her culture and people, proving that Hilyah Signorina clothing can be worn with pride as the ornament every lady should have.

Nurainie as the “Hiyas ng Kadaywan”

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