By Maryo B. Labad

“I think the biggest dilemma of the fashion industry today is that most designers have succumbed to commercialism. For me, they have to break themselves, and I challenge them, to go back to the real art form. And when you say art, it has to be truthful and passion.”

Manu Respall, the fiercest designer of FOTA

Come March 5, 2017, a new Filipino reality show will premiere in GMA News TV entitled Fiercest Of Them All (FOTA), Sunday, 9 PM. It is a combination of reality and fantasy, the first ever to be seen in your home screens. It will be hosted by Brazilian model-host, Daiana Meneses, her comeback show in her mother network. Every weekend she will be dressed up as the “Queen of the Forest” and all the candidates of the show will follow her command. And the person responsible for her looks in the show is an avant garde artist, the designer and one of the judges of the show, Manu Respall. For the duration of the whole one season (13 episodes), she will wear thirty (30) creations of Doggficher, the label he used for the past 26 years.

A graduate in Industrial Design from UP, Manu prefers to be called a “dressery” that is using his clothes as part of the total outlook of his creation; it’s a dress and not just an accessory, or the elaborate headdresses and neck pieces he made from raw materials, as he is masterfully know for.

Some of his designs

That’s how he was noticed by Vogue Italy after he accessorized the show of Randall Solomon during the finale of Fashion Week a couple of years ago. Although his name didn’t appear in the credits, he didn’t mind as long as it was there and was recognized.

Part of his designs featured in FOTA

“I think what is important was the fact that they noticed my artwork, and if people will start asking who made it, it will still be,” he related. After that, more of his designs were featured in other fashion magazines in New York, such as Pyrexia and Rare. This time, he was properly acknowledged. And a few months ago, he launched officially his fashion line (Doggficher) and his collection. And because of this, he got the nod of the producer of FOTA who saw his collection.

With this new show, Manu believed that the public will know him for the first time. And the fashion industry, in particular, will realize who he is. “Either they will love me or hate me, and I don’t mind because I love it,” said the unconventional designer. “I love causing and stirring chaos. That’s my goal. I want the fashion industry to say, ‘Who’s that? Bakit s’ya umeeksena?””

his casual accessories

As a designer, Manu insisted that happiness is not all about the money. “For me what is important is that my designs are being worn. It’s like my babies are born. It makes me happy when I see someone wearing my creation.” He also corrected the idea that his clothes are not wearable. “It is wrong to say that because the moment a model wears it, it means it is wearable. Now the question is, are you that daring to wear it?” He also admitted that his clothes are meant for women who are not scared to express their real thoughts, brave people and very independent. These are the brave and secure people.. Among our showbiz personalities, his dream models are Ellen Adarna and Anne Curtis.

Doggficher Accessories

Manu explained that in showcasing his collection, he has no specific type of model. “I love dressing up the normal people. I like short, tall, fat, slim, white, black, young, old,; my fashion is varied. I hate when you talk about fashion, it is always the six-footer, the sexy, the model with the abs, the muscled. But excuse me, not everyone who wears nice clothes are like them. So, if you tell me you want to commercialize your fashion and be sold, then why you make and force models to look like that when it could be worn by anyone at all. He also shared that he doesn’t know how to sew, but he does the basic sketches of his designs.

Aside from designing, Manu is also an inspirational coach and an actor. He appeared in the Cinemalaya award-winning film Yanggao. He’s also a voice coach and appeared in stage plays. He planned to showcase his Fiercest Of Them All collection in a grand fashion show after the first season ends.

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