Adante Leyesa: Accessories made fancy out of local materials


Adante Leyesa

Adante Leyesa

His craftsmanship ‘forms thoughts and feelings,
discovery and craft, story and art’


LIPA CITY—Adante Leyesa has his old buddy, his dog Jigo, to thank. By simply wearing a pendant at a bazaar, that shitzu breed of a dog caught some people’s attention.

So was Adante, a self-learned designer of avant-garde clutch bags, necklaces, bracelets, bangles and earrings.

Actually, this hobbyist of a designer kicked off his passion in 2009 when his home was struck by typhoon Ondoy, and some of his designs that survived Ondoy’s wrath were about to be disposed. Then as a friend prodded Leyesa to sell these creations (which family members and officemates were not wearing) at a local bazaar, visitors’ eyes popped at Leyesa’s works —especially when that dog wore that pendant.

Jigo died at age 12, breaking Adante’s heart to the point that he gave the dog a decent burial near his home here.

Since then, Leyesa’s artistry in designing accessories soared. The break that came Leyesa’s way was winning in a competition titled “Weaving the Future” (organized by the Fashion and Design Council of the Philippines), particularly in the accessory division, which required contestants to use local materials.

Making avant-garde designs out of local materials has been Leyesa’s signature, even if creating  those pieces has been his frequent “dilemma”. “There are already lots of simple accessories in the market, so I try to make (something from) what are not found there,” Leyesa tells The Filipino Connection.

Leyesa’s creations used local weaves, wood, semiprecious stones, tiny beads, crystals and metal 1 chains, yet they are products of “multi-step processes,” like beading and knotting, “(that form) thoughts and feelings, discovery and craft, story and art”.

Those materials are already available anywhere actually, but that’s where Leyesa’s craftsmanship comes in. “The quality and uniqueness of my design, you could feel that there was a story behind it. Every detail, even its single pendant has a story of why I put it there. The pieces are vintage, timeless.”

Products of Adante Collections (Leyesa’s social enterprise) were first seen during the 2011 Philippine Fashion Week, organized by fellow Batangueños Gerry Katigbak and Ulysses King. He is also a part of Manila Wear, a group of designers who were carefully selected by New York, USA-based Filipina international designer Josie Natori.

Leyesa’s target market is the upper class woman, “powerful women who are ready to reinvent themselves, to try new things, who are confident enough, and women who know what they want.”

But little did these buyers know that the materials for Leyesa’s creations, like clutch bags, were 2made of the bariw palm done by persons with disabilities based in Antique; the clutches out of bamboo that were hand-woven by tribes from the Cordillera Administrative Region; and the hand-beaded appliqués, made of semi-precious stones, crafted by the out-of-school youth from this city in Batangas.

This approach to have local residents reinvent local materials reminds of Leyesa’s childhood, growing up helping her mother who is a fruit vendor and who currently owns a sari-sari store here.

“Fashion for me is (looking) into the deeper meaning of it. It really means different for me especially now that I can help in my selected communities,” Leyesa said.

That deeper meaning of Leyesa’s artistry was never buried together with Jigo.

with Jeremaiah M. Opiniano

Photos taken from Leyesa’s website


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