A Man for all Generations: How the Works of a 19th Century Master Inspires this Contemporary Designer
- 24 February 2021
“It began with a fascination with aged objects,” designer Gabriel Bustos Santos shares. This curiosity grew into a feverish search to learn more about the nation’s past through Jose Honorato Lozano’s tipos del pais— a style of watercolor painting that literally translates to “types of the country.”
Jose Honorato Lozano is often credited as the first visual artist of the Philippines and pioneer of tipos del pais. He had paved the way for his contemporaries, Justiniano Asuncion and Damian Domingo, to follow suit.
In a time long before the age of photography, Lozano’s tipos del pais served as the sole visual chronicle of everyday life during the 19th century. He would paint the mundane in bright and vivid detail— producing his iconic works of art in the process. Now, several centuries after his lifetime, Lozano’s legacy endures and inspires a new generation of artists to pay tribute to the rich cultural history of the Philippines.
Gabriel Bustos Santos was a musician before he decided to chase after his dream in the world of fashion. He took a bold leap and created his own sustainable clothing label that specializes in unisex, artisanal, and handmade garments.
However, what truly sets the clothing label apart is its interwoven narrative with old Filipino traditions. Each garment produced represents the dichotomy of the old and the new. For Santos, it’s all about borrowing fragments of the past and adapting them to fit one’s modern lifestyle— whether it’s through deeper pockets or more practical silhouettes.
Santos combs through old photographs, books, artworks, and museum archives during the research process of his designs. In doing so, he arms himself with the vital information he needs to reconceptualize period garments and historical processes within the context of the 21st century.
A reflection of social class
“If you look at Lozano’s art, you’ll quickly realize that one’s clothing was reflective of their status in society— the more extravagant and impractical, the higher up on the social ladder,” remarks Santos.
You can see the differences between the clothes of the merchants to those of the working class in the two scenes, Indios Tagalos and Gallera.
It’s these nitty-gritty details that contribute to the timelessness of Lozano’s works of art. After all, here we are centuries later, still awe-struck and captivated by the master.