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Journey of the Barong Tagalog, 20th Century Philippines Part 21: Auggie Cordero

Auggie Cordero is a Filipino fashion designer and couturier that started with a humble shop in Manila in 1970. His early clients were students from neighboring schools like the University of the Philippines. After catching the eyes of the tastemakers of those times, Cordero was invited to show his collections at prestigious fashion shows in Manila. As the successes came and his reputation for being an excellent designer and consummate professional grew, Cordero’s clothing was featured at fashion shows around the world and in international magazines. At the height of his career, which was during the martial law Marcos era (1972-1986), Cordero was one of Manila’s top haute couturiers. After the fashion heyday of the Marcos era and despite many changes in the state of the Philippines and fashion over the years, Cordero has managed to weather the storms and stay relevant and busy with clients, whom he maintains friendships with and provides consistent personal service.

In 1976, Cordero began to make drastic changes to the presentation of the Barong Tagalog. Photo ad campaigns of his barongs featured all women. He made his barong ensembles less formal, less traditional and more contemporary, lively and free-spirited. Cordero softened the lines, and made the contours of his barongs look more fluid. He opened up the front openings of the barong, rolled up the sleeve cuffs twice and paired them with colorful camisa de chino, pants and skirts. Though, he did retain the traditional hand embroidery, translucent fabrics, natural off-white color and loose silhouette of the Barong Tagalog. Cordero’s intention was to widen the base of barong wearers, especially the international non-Filipino market, and this casual resort wear look seemed to be the vehicle to do just that.

women models wear their Auggie Cordero barongs open and loose with colorful Ilocano plaid print long flowing skirts with pleats or relaxed long linen pants

All five women models wear their Auggie Cordero barongs open and loose with colorful Ilocano plaid print long flowing skirts with pleats or relaxed long linen pants. All clothing is Philippine made. Pic is likely from the late 1970’s, and is from Visitacion R. de la Torre’s 1986 book The Barong Tagalog: The Philippines’ National Wear

female models show a more relaxed, casual resort wear look to the Barong Tagalog by Auggie Cordero

Two female models show a more relaxed, casual resort wear look to the Barong Tagalog aimed at a wider international audience, which is what Cordero intended. Pic is likely from the late 1970’s and is from de la Torre’s book The Barong Tagalog.

Bessie Badilla models an Auggie Cordero Barong Tagalog with a long flowing Ilocano plaid print skirt with pleats in Australia.

Bessie Badilla models an Auggie Cordero Barong Tagalog with a long flowing Ilocano plaid print skirt with pleats in Australia. This photo is from a 1977 edition of Sunburst magazine. Cordero’s collection was brought to Australia for a Philippine tourism project with Myers department store.

 Auggie Cordero in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s from de la Torre’s book The Barong Tagalog

Auggie Cordero in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s from de la Torre’s book The Barong Tagalog.

Auggie Cordero circa 2015 from Tatler Philippines.

Auggie Cordero circa 2015 from Tatler Philippines.