Hanz Coquilla on wearing your patriotic heart on your sleeve
By Patricia May P. Catan
HANZ Coquilla has carved his name in the fashion industry since following his heart to officially enter the world of fashion designing. Despite his humble beginnings of serving as a freelance assistant to Cebuano designers, Coquilla still managed to find a way for his works to be recognized by joining competitions. The most life-changing and arguably one of his best achievements is joining Project Runway Philippines Season 2 in 2009 where he won three major challenges: bridal, avant-garde and futurism. This recognition further enabled his passion for fashion and later made him a household name in the fashion industry.
Coquilla, who now has multiple highly praised works and is given the acknowledgement he most certainly deserves, has made for himself a brand that’s distinctly Hanz Coquilla — fashion-forward, brave and experimental while exuding femininity and class. Out of the many designs he masterfully crafted, four Filipiniana-inspired dresses stood out that’s timely for the month of August where we celebrate loving not only our language, but embracing everything that is truly Filipino.
While each dress is part of a different collection, they seem to complement each other just fine with all four dresses created with nature and Philippine heritage and culture in mind. Drawing inspiration from basically anything and from anything aside from the aforementioned, Coquilla makes sure each dress is created with only the most meticulous of hands. “Each piece is carefully handcrafted by my artisans and workers,” Coquilla emphasized, adding that the red dress went through a tedious process of pleating just to achieve the anahaw kind of pleats while the gold one has more than 500 crystals individually glued on it by hand.
Known for his upscale clientele, Coquilla designs and makes dresses for socials and celebrities alike. The red electric pleated skirt with hand pleated top for example was worn by classical crossover singer Gerphil Flores during the ASEAN Summit, while the bejeweled lace jumpsuit with butterfly sleeves was worn by Cebuana Beauty Queen Neesha Murjani when she competed for Bb. Pilipinas 2015.
Along with these two outstanding pieces, two other modern Filipiniana dresses equally brought the Coquilla identity to the table. These are the hand-painted top with full circular skirt in rose gold and blush and the full skirt in minty silk gazar paired with a graphic tee for a more contemporary look. “Each dress is modern in many ways. One, it can be worn by anyone of any age to any occasion. Two, it is Filipiniana, but not the usual,” Coquilla described his designs that used ordinary clothing materials such as silk, lace and satin.
Now recognized as one of Cebu’s top fashion designers, Coquilla has a big shoe to fill and staying true to his Filipino roots and making it visible in his designs is an even bigger shoe to fill, but he positively says that he’s trying his very best. “The Philippines has a lot of beautiful things. It is colorful and interesting in so many ways and every day is a new inspiration. I am looking forward to the day when I can bring my designs inspired by the different tribes of our country to the international platform,” Coquilla shared.
Photographer: Crisanto Etorma
Stylist: Ichael Serneo
HMUA: Karlo Damolo & Jerwin Batastas
Locale: Yap-San Diego Ancestral House