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Journey of the Barong Tagalog, 20th Century Philippines Part 24: Tony Decena

Tony Decena is a Filipino fashion designer whose forte in the 1980’s was making gowns for brides and debutantes. He wore the Barong Tagalog and respected its tradition and distinctive features in its formal form. And this didn’t stop Decena from experimenting with different fabrics when designing his interpretations of casual, less formal barongs. He utilized organza, printed silk Indian sari fabric and French georgette. Decena kept the general barong cut, patterns, and features, and without these, his creations would probably look nothing like barongs.

Joy Lee (left) and Judy Valles (right) model Tony Decena barongs with skirts

Joy Lee (left) and Judy Valles (right) model Tony Decena barongs with skirts. Joy’s barong is made of printed silk sari fabric, and Judy’s barong is made of striped French georgette fabric with additional print designs added on top of the stripes. The shoulder pads, collars, embellished cravat and blousy sleeves reflected the fashion of the times, the 1980’s.

 Two men model Tony Decena barongs circa 1980's

Two men model Tony Decena barongs. The man on the left wears a black organza barong with printed silk sari fabric as the pechera (front embroidery) substitute. The man on the right wears a dark barong made of striped georgette fabric, similar to the look of many striped 19th century barongs. These barongs have traditional features, like the half open button down design, translucent fabric, pointed fold down collars, loose fit and side vents.

Both photos are from Visitacion R. de la Torre’s 1986 book The Barong Tagalog: The Philippines’ National Wear and are likely from the 1980’s.