Designer Paul Cabral’s barong designs for APEC leaders

Rappler.com
Economic leaders wore barongs by Paul Cabral for the big group photo. Here's more on the designs for each unique barong

LEADERS. The economic leaders in their barong tagalogs designed by Paul Cabral at the APEC 2015 Welcome Dinner. Rappler Screengrab  

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) –  Filipino fashion designer Paul Cabral was tasked to make the ensembles to be worn by world leaders who attended the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit from November 16-19. 

Host countries are tasked to come up with the cultural attire that the leaders will wear for the group photo. This year, the leaders wore the Barong Tagalog.

FILIPINO PRIDE. Designer Paul Cabral has been tasked to design the barongs that the APEC leaders will wear for the summit this week. Photo from Facebook/ APEC 2015 Philippines     

“Since the Philippines is the APEC host economy, it is fitting and appropriate for the Economic Leaders to wear the Barong Tagalog for such a significant event,” he said in a release

“Our provision of formal wear for the world leaders is reflective of our renowned hospitality and conveys our people’s warm welcome.”

According to Paul, he took into consideration the culture of each country into his designs. He has been working on the project since April, requesting measurements for each leader, and doing research on every participating country.

Some of the designs include nods to different cultures – the barong belonging to the Sultan of Brunei was inspired by the country’s golden-domed mosques, for example. 

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei. Rappler Screengrab

In a report by AFP, he also said that he studied the APEC leaders’ posture to come up with a design that both represents their country and suits their build.

READY FOR APEC. This photo taken on November 12, 2015 shows Filipino designer Paul Cabral explaining how he designed the 'barong' or formal shirts that APEC leaders will wear during the summit in Manila. Photo by Jay Directo/AFP

United States President Barack Obama‘s tall frame will be draped with bold patterns from American renaissance architecture, for example. 

US President Barack Obama. Rappler screengrab

The shirt of China’s Xi Jinping features tall bamboo with cascading leaves while Malaysia’s Najib Razak boasts warrior shields from Sarawak.

Chinese president Xi JinPing. Rappler screengrab

Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Razak. Rappler screengrab

But the most important detail in the shirts for those wearing them may not be the intricate embroidery. Paul said he secretly sewed a satin lining on the tough collars to prevent itching.

DETAILS. The embroidery on the Paul Cabral's barong designs. Rappler screengrab

The cloth of a barong is made from the hard, spiked leaves from the pineapple’s crown, which are pounded and dried. But for the leaders’ shirts, Paul has mixed it with silk to make it more comfortable.

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{source}<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>No greater honor: Paul Cabral on dressing the 21 APEC Economic Leaders. <a href=”https://t.co/nuA33o0GPg”>https://t.co/nuA33o0GPg</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/APEC2015?src=hash”>#APEC2015</a> <a href=”https://t.co/VvQLxzSSzk”>pic.twitter.com/VvQLxzSSzk</a></p>&mdash; APEC 2015 (@apec2015ph) <a href=”https://twitter.com/apec2015ph/status/663682560497745920″>November 9, 2015</a></blockquote>

<script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>{/source}

 

Aside from the world leaders, Paul also designed outfits for the leaders’ spouses, and the clothes do also feature a cultural touch.  The garment to be worn by Akie Abe, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s wife, was inspired by the country’s popular cherry blossom festival. 

Shaking off the APEC red carpet’s reputation as a worst-dressed parade will be a tall order for Paul if past attempts are anything to go by. 

Last year, the tunics worn by the leaders in China went viral on the Internet for resembling Star Trek uniforms.

In the aftermath of the global financial crisis in 2008, the ponchos worn by the leaders in Peru were ridiculed as potato sacks, while global power players looked visibly uncomfortable two years earlier as they shuffled onto the stage for a photo-op wearing Vietnam’s “ao dai” tunics. 

The tradition harks back to 1993 when US President Bill Clinton put his APEC colleagues in leather bomber jackets – the kind worn by World War II fighter pilots. 

But Paul said he was confident that his design would not be the butt of jokes. 

“I’m not at all worried. I just concentrated on my job,” he told AFP.  

Aside from Paul, renowned designer Kenneth Cobonpue will also be part of the summit, as creative director of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Welcome Dinner on Wednesday, November 18. Filipino talents are also expected to perform in a few events planned throughout the duration of the summit. – with reports from AFP/Rappler.com