August 31, 2009

Manila hemp

During Spanish colonial times, one of the most important export products of the Philippines was marine rope made out of abaca (Musa textilis) fiber, known worldwide then and now as Manila hemp. It proved to be more flexible and resistant to salt water damage than rope made out of hemp, to which it has no relation whatsoever. Classified as a hard fiber, abaca is one of the strongest and most durable natural fibers in the world. Its pulp is used to make specialty papers for tea bags and money. It is also used widely in Philippine handicrafts like furniture, rugs and carpets, clothing and fashion accessories. This Filipiniana dress designed by Jontie Martinez, part of the Maria Clara exhibit I caught at The Block at SM City North EDSA, features a kimona (the blouse) and panuelo (the shawl) made out of abaca. With today's technology, textiles using the fiber can be as delicate and smooth as silk but it was the rough texture of this piece—its 'naturalness,' if you will—that caught my eye. Amazingly and wonderfully, the coarse-looking cloth proved to be very soft and smooth to the touch.

kimona and panuelo made out of abaca

20 comments:

Yoork said...

I'd wear that!

Amit Gupta said...

nice....thanks for sharing....

Jacob said...

Manila hemp. Very interesting. I like the looks of this and will take your word for it that it is soft and smooth.

Thanks for the fashion lesson. I shall remember abaca. I wonder if any clothing in the States is made with abaca...

Don and Krise said...

That really is beautiful Hilda. My wife says she strongly approves. I would have thought it would have been somewhat rough to the touch too.

Olivier said...

une très belle robe, digne de figurer dans un musée
a very nice dress, worthy of appearing in a museum

Priyanka Khot said...

It looks beautiful...

is abaca similar to the Indian Jute???

The pink lace work is exquisite.

Gunn White said...

Elegant and stylish!:-)

Cezar and Léia said...

wow Hilda, now you got me!Fabulous and elegant, I want one, I could use, absolutely fashion!
Have a great week dear friend.

Léia

Chin said...

beautiful dress,
beautiful shot.

Leif Hagen said...

Very elegant, classy and I guess comfortable! Please show us a photo of Hilda in the dress!

marley said...

That looks very nice. Quite glamourous yet simple.

Halcyon said...

It's very beautiful. Hemp is a very strong fabric, so I guess it will also last for some time.

Lois said...

It's lovely Hilda! It looks comfortable and delicate at the same time and I love the pink!

BeachILike said...

Elegant! Beautiful and charming too.


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Rob said...

Beautiful! Looks very much like a Spanish mantilla.
Hilda, thank you very much for your very nice comment. Your comments are always very welcome. And when you come to Barcelona, Me and my wife will be more than happy to be your guides. But you'll have to hurry, as we will be moving to Canada next year!

cieldequimper said...

Pretty. And interesting!

Dina said...

Good stuff.

James said...

That is a really nice dress.

George said...

This is a very beautiful dress. I like it.

ellievellie said...

Magnificent! Is it expensive? I like the pink details - but most of all the shape - very curvy - sexy - and feminine.