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March 14, 2011

The Shantung Jacket + Maharlika in Manhattan

I was meandering about at my favorite fabric shop when I recalled that one conversation I had with my bosom Boston buddy Mia, where we looked back with fondness and mild disgust at our prom looks. I wore a miserably mismatched suit that included a heavy gray tweed jacket (in the heat of Manila!) with a drawstring necktie from a mall kiosk, while she wore a saccharine-bright beaded, corseted gown with matching fabric purse and shoes, all in the unflatteringly iridescent fabric du jour at the time: silk shantung. Silk shantung, a textured type of silk usually blended with polyester, is sold in abundance and at attractive prices today in the year 2011. I thought to myself, why not reinvent the textile of terror and make something wearable out of it?
tailor-made shantung jacket with velvet lapels, American Apparel tank top, H&M jeans, Gucci loafers
And that’s just what I did. I purchased enough of fabric in black to make a jacket, and picked up some velvet for trim. I had the vision of the jacket in my head, and gave my tailor the specifications for this project: sharp, fitted shoulders, a relaxed torso with barely any taper, and velvet peaked lapels as wide as humanly possible.
I thought plastic buttons would be too mundane, and bright metal buttons would be too strong. So I finished off the jacket with these silk knot buttons that I had purchased a while back but never got to use. I think there is a certain refinement in using fabric buttons, especially on a jacket in a rather delicate material.
Hermès silk scarf worn as a cummerbund
Though I may not be the biggest Gucci groupie, these shoes are a classic style from ages ago and are the closest I could get to owning a piece of Tom Ford-era Gucci… at least for now.
I had a late morning meal at Resto Leon in the East Village, where Sundays, it turns into Maharlika, a guerilla brunch spot serving modern Filipino cuisine.
at Leon, cross ring a gift from my friend Kathleen Sullivan
Brunch was excellent. Flavorful, well-executed, with just the right touch of inventiveness.
The food ranged from the kitschy-cool:
my plate, Eggs Imelda. Their take on Eggs Florentine, with laing (taro leaves in coconut milk) in place of spinach, pan de sal in lieu of English muffins, and a hollandaise sauce made with the Filipino mini-limes called calamansi. Fried sweet potatoes and prawns on the side.
Tang mimosas, bright and surprisingly subtle
to just plain kitschy (and pretty darn enjoyable!):
Walk into a typical Filipino home and they would offer you a glass of Tang orange juice, with just a little too much water and sugar to keep it mild and sweet.
Nagaraya cracker nuts
sisig (grilled sizzling pork face) with liquid MSG also known as Maggi seasoning
to superbly-done classics:
Good balut (fertilized, half-way formed duck eggs typically served as the ultimate challenge on Fear Factor) is hard to find in Manila; in Manhattan, it’s quite an impressive feat.
the tastiest arroz caldo (congee/rice porridge) with shredded chicken and anatto oil
posing away my brunch on 11th Street
Dearest readers, I write to you now from my new apartment in New York. Yes, I’ve finally made the move after months of being a couch-surfing resident of the city. Feel free to say hi if you see me on the street. I don’t smile, but neither do I bite. And I promise not to set up camp in front of your favorite mirror at the next sample sale.
photos by Pop Bop and Snap


  • Brandon
    March 14th, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Verrrry nicely done Izz! I love the subtle lines in the fabric, difficult job but you did it! Also Velvet buttons are the best!

    I had no idea there was a filipino restaurant on 11th st! We must go I want to try that take on an eggs Benedict!

  • Michele
    March 14th, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Hmmmm yummy food! All looks so appealing. Also I am so amazed by your style and wonderful jacket ideas!
    I must get myself a tailor so I can unleash my crazy ideas haha

  • Wax
    March 14th, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    Death by sisig. Le sigh.

  • thompsonboy
    March 15th, 2011 at 5:29 am

    I was wondering how do you tie the scarf into a cummerbund?

  • Six Six Sick
    March 15th, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    Wow, what an amazing custom jacket, I'm incredibly impressed, I love the velvet trim, and you made a good choice on the buttons. I need to get the number for your tailor!

    Also, I'm very intrigued by that egg…I would give it a try, even if it sounds a little scary. After all, I am Chinese, and I will pretty much eat anything.


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