Amsterdam, the Atelier of Filipinas in Fashion
Text by Krisha Valle
Photos by Dre Baybay and Christine Canio
Dre Baybay (24) and Christine Canio (29) are two Filipinas aspiring to make a name for themselves in the fashion industry. Although they have their own unique journey, their paths converge in the city they chose to walk in, Amsterdam. Dre was born and raised in Cavite before moving to Amsterdam in 2021, while Christine was born in the Philippines and was raised in Amsterdam after moving at the age of 10.
First Steps into Fashion
Dre, despite always having a passion for creating and a desire to innovate, didn’t step into fashion until later in her life. Stability and practicality were her first priorities, however, not wanting to stray too far from her dreams, architecture became a good compromise. Luckily, being a student at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde only peaked her passion for fashion. It was in her second year of college when she knew that upon graduating, she would pursue fashion, textile studies in particular. “Art school in college opened up my expressive and my creative side. My experiences in a more progressive place allowed me to make peace with that inner child that wanted that comfort. And now, I can slowly see myself as a transwoman. I realized that by being true to myself, I can thrive. I made this declaration to live as authentically as possible,” recalls Dre. Finally, in 2021, she moved to Amsterdam to join the TextileLab institution.
As for Christine’s story, her curiosity for fashion began as she watched her grandmother sew and tailor clothes. With the help of her grandmother, she started learning how to make clothes and Barbie became her first client. Unfortunately, upon moving to Amsterdam and similar to Dre, she had to choose stability and practicality over passion. It wasn’t until 2015 that she decided to try her hand at sewing again. She then enrolled herself into a fashion tailoring course at the ROC. However, upon finishing her first year, she had to stop to focus on caring for her newborn son. The following years of nurturing and providing for her son has become pertinent to her now tenacious attitude in pursuing fashion. Six years later, in 2021, she made a commitment to go back and finish what she started at ROC. “Hindi ko talaga in-expect na ito [fashion] ang gagawin ko talaga. Ang daming nangyari sa buhay ko so naging mahirap mag-desisyon. Pero na-realize ko talaga na dito ako magaling at dito ako happy,” shares Christine.
Studying Fashion in Amsterdam
Dre is studying at the TextileLab Amsterdam where she received a scholarship for their 2-year course. The TextileLab is a design institution whose goal is to bridge the gap between textiles and technology and bring innovation to the slowly changing fashion industry. Amsterdam, through TextileLab, has allowed Dre’s desire for innovation to flourish. “There is a more diverse and inclusive platform for innovation here. My goal is to be part of the solution rather than to be a contribution to the systems [of fashion industry],” says Dre. Being in Europe, in Amsterdam, and in an institution that carries similar values to hers, has allowed her to curate, day and night, a tangible view of what a Dre Baybay brand stands for.
Christine, on the other hand, is pursuing an MBO in fashion tailoring at the ROC Amsterdam. Her goal is to learn all aspects of fashion as what she loves about the industry is the myriad of branches she can choose from. Christine’s priority is to create or style clothing in a way that prioritizes the client. “I don’t want to be flashy in fashion. Yung gusto ko is maging comfortable and confident sa clothes,” says Christine. She believes that by collecting knowledge from the different branches of fashion, she can achieve this goal. Alongside her studies, she interns at Petra de Jonge’s studio in Amsterdam. Petra is a highly accomplished and coveted designer, whose values are in line with that of Christine’s. It is for this reason that Christine sought out for Petra’s mentoring through an internship. Like Christine, Petra prioritizes the client and makes clothes for the people, “body optimizing design through smart lines is an important part of my brand value”. Through theoretical learning in ROC and the practical experiences with Petra de Jonge, Christine is slowly collecting what she needs in order to feel confident in her skills as a fashion student.
Future in Fashion
So, what’s next for these two Filipinas in fashion?
Dre wants to continue living life as authentically as she can and that means building the Dre Baybay brand through a bottom-up process. Finally, what she hopes one day is to work alongside, Dutch designer, Iris Van Herpen. Iris is known for her ability to fuse technology with traditional haute couture into her designs. Inspired by her innovations, Dre states “I don’t see myself working for any other fashion house except for hers.”
As for Christine, she’s set to finish the second level of her MBO in spring and has applied to a fashion design course for her third level of MBO at ROC. However, she also has the option of pursuing a fashion styling course at the Vogue Academy. Generally, Christine desires to learn and hone every skill she could possibly need to succeed in the fashion industry, “Ang gusto ko talaga is matutunan lahat ng pwede kong aralin para sa fashion.”
Author Krisha Valle is 22 years old. She was born in Manila but lived her formative years in Hanoi, Vietnam. She is in the final year of her studies at the University of Amsterdam where she majors in Organizational Psychology with a minor in Conflict Studies.