Not one to skirt the issue of progressive fashion in the clubs and bedsits of Manila, photographer and creative dabbler ANDRE DRILON shows you how he can compete in the scene wearing more than just pleats.
Standing at the crossroads of conflicting worlds, Andre Drilon navigates his way in the diverse cultural hotbed of Manila as a creative influenced by its dissonance. “There’s nothing harmonious about Manila, and I think that’s the beauty of it, not just because of the unique and absurd social conditions we live in, but also how on a daily basis, we witness how our developing society gets better over time,” the artist shares. Catching the drift by adding his own twist on the local scene’s unyielding blueprint, Andre constructs a world in the space between urban grit and high fashion elegance, proving that you can’t reach maximum fun without wearing a maxi skirt, all while unfurling a fearless emotion as a renegade and breaker of stereotypes to men’s masculinity. “I think it’s strange that society is familiar and comfortable with transgender personalities and homosexuality, yet maintains a binary opposition with masculinity and femininity. You’re either a boy, girl or gay,” he adds, “My feminine side has been dormant for so long, repressed by a lot of social pressure. To be honest, it was my break-up with my seven-year long girlfriend that triggered the lifestyle change. I wanted to change a lot of things about myself and I think that was one of the first things I decided to develop – to be more honest with myself, and to express that in a constructive way.”
“Rather than deny them, I conquered them by playing with the rules, not against them. I wear skirts as a boy, and I am feminine as a boy.”
While it’s true how all that glitters isn’t gold, his heart does gleam just as bright as he digs in deeper into his refreshing narrative. “From the superficial side, wearing skirts is funny because there are a lot of things that girls do when they wear skirts that men don’t even think about,” he continues, “I had to ask girls how they do it – and in a way, I realized that as men, we don’t think about this small intricacies that women have to go through and the social pressures they have to take just in order to look or feel pretty. These are the kind of things I started to reflect on after I started wearing skirts.” Now crossing the border from boyhood to artistic maturity, Andre outgrows his old skin and takes charge of his future by learning how to skirt around the rules. “Rather than deny them, I conquered them by playing with the rules, not against them. I wear skirts as a boy, and I am feminine as a boy,” he adds, “People are starting to get that about the Philippine art scene, it’s not an inaccessible world reserved for the rich, but rather a platform in which we can share our creative energies.”
He may be bursting at the seams but beyond the leg holes, Andre sees dream-like depictions of reality in glitches. With his liking for vaporwave translating through his lifestyle and works, he develops a taste for satirized consumerism. “And this definitely relates to how I feel about gender roles – you can’t escape it, cause we grew up with it. To attempt to be free of them or deny them is futile, and we’re hardwired by society to think this way,” he adds, “An important person in my life, who is not part of it anymore, fostered this love. And this person and I developed this aesthetic together and the creative process, and we evolved from pretty pictures to something engaging and captivating. We viewed photography as an art more than a hobby, and as expression more than function.”
“It’s not just the snapshots anymore, but to paint a picture in a controlled manner from my own perspective.”
Capturing the youth’s contradictions in unsuspected flares of light, the rising photographer dabbles with provocative truths that demand to captivate the viewer. “It’s not just the snapshots anymore, but to paint a picture in a controlled manner from my own perspective.” Andre may seem incomplete without his pleats, but he proves to be more than just a pretty picture, and Manila’s forecast reads a gleaming future ahead for this one. “It’s really apparent that I’m being casted as the skirt guy, but I want to develop myself as a photographer and stylist, not just the guy who wears skirts. I want to develop my fashion, photography and creative side. The next step is to transcend this identity.”