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Malou makes waves in Paris Spring Fashion Week

Charlotte, North Carolina–Six designers of the Opera Carolina group based here in Charlotte participated in the recent Paris Spring Fashion Week.

One of them, Malou Tabada-Cordery–who originally hailed from Villanueva town in Misamis Oriental, northern Mindanao in the Philippines and now calls Charlotte home–made a name for herself for making fashionable wear from recycled materials.

She and five other designers are the eco-couture designers of Opera Carolinas who provided them with the materials to create wearable fashion gowns.

Opera Carolina is a Charlotte-based group of designers founded by its marketing guru Megan Miller.

Charlotte designers who were invited included Lyndsee Hairstorn, Malou Tabada -Cordery, Sarah Danee, Itala Flores, Rocio Llusca and another Filipino-American designer Edelweiss de Guzman-Vogel.

Malou was unable to go to Paris but her creation was brought in by the Opera Carolina group. She didn't know about the fashion show until Miller asked her to create a recyclable dress for the Spring Fashion Week in Paris this year.

The show was held at the Intercontinental Paris Le Grand Hotel last March 4 in Paris. Malou's creation as worn by professional model Molly Estellia Davidson of France who recently landed in the cover of a wedding magazine in Liverpool, England.

Malou's design drew raves from those in the show.  “My design Is an interpretation of an Opera called Aida by Giuseppe Verdi,” Malou said. Aida was an Ethiopian princess held captive in Egypt who fell in love  with General Rameses. 

The Eyptian general struggled to choose between his love of Aida and his loyalty to the Pharoah. 

“Aida is a timeless story of love and betrayal against the backdrop of war.  I was inspired to create Aida's outfit in my own style, which is more about fashion than costume,” the very humble and pretty Malou said.

She spent more than 100 hours preparing the design, sourcing the materials and putting it all together. “I've have to work around my work schedule to finish it,” she said.  

Malou used a bunny suit, an operating room lab gown, white disposable table cloth, old paper brochures, old opera tickets and play bills from the Opera Carolina styrofoam and gold construction paper for the dress.

The belt has the ankh, an Egyptian symbol for life with reeds. This is the fourth year that Malou collaborated with Opera Carolina.  From local shows in Charlotte, Malou went to the New York Fashion Week.

“It was a great experience being in the Big Apple since the show was held in one of the hotels at Times Square,” Malou said.

The Paris Spring Fashion Week was the first foreign event joined by Opera Carolina and the first time Malou's creation was seen in foreign soil.  Malou, who never attended fashion and design school, considers this a big achievement.

“I feel honored, humbled and proud. Who would imagine that a little girl from Villanueva town would fulfill her big dreams?  I never expected in my life that my design would end up in Paris,” she said.

I didn't attend the Paris show but Megan Miller of the Opera Carolina and Sarah Danee, another designer, kept me updated and sent me pictures. 

Malou's knack for fashion and design was evident during her childhood in Villanueva town, where she sewed dresses.

It manifested much later in life when she made dresses for her two beautiful daughters using the sewing machine given to her by her mother-in-law in the Philippines.

Malou also created the dress worn by Janet Pichon Hixon in the just concluded Mrs. Eco Earth pageant held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Meanwhile Molly thanked Malou after the show through Instagram.  

Molly said she felt honored to wear her creation and hoped that she can work with her in the future.

With support from her family—her husband Richard connected the live feed of the Paris show through their computer—Malou said she always feels motivated to work. “I'm so excited already, though I’m not in Paris for the show,” Malou said.

Based on their mission statement, the Opera Carolinas group is committed to putting materials such as outdated opera playbills, programs, signs and brochures to beautiful and creative use.  

In the four years since they launched this initiative, more than 35,000 pieces of marketing materials were converted to couture fashion pieces inspired by the opera.

Through their initiative, Opera Carolina is showing its commitment to environmental awareness through its creations.

comments susanap.dennis@yahoo.com

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