As survivors try to recover post-Typhoon Haiyan, Robin Tomas remembers where home is. 

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On Monday November 25th, the charming and laid back Filipino designer Robin Tomas threw an intimate soirée at The Vogt Gallery in Chelsea to celebrate the launch of his new online boutique, TOMAS NYC. The site showcases TOMAS’ current 2013 women’s wear Holiday/Resort collection, which was inspired by the French Period Rooms in The Met Museum (Hotel de Cabris). The tasteful selection of day to evening separates combines subtle Parisian undertones with chic modern silhouettes, which include youthful but refined clean cut shifts, box cut blouses, cigarette pants, a plush cashmere cape lined in a bold baroque print, a V-neck brocade hourglass cocktail dress and a full length opera gown in layers of ruffled appliqués.

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“The TOMAS woman is an independent, unapologetic individual with a natural panache. She is well rounded, global and effortlessly chic,” explained the kind and extremely accessible cherub-faced designer.

Pieces from the line can be seen in a stark and dreamy fashion film directed by Canadian filmmaker and photographer Evaan Kheraj. It follows a young model as she navigates the towering (and still standing) rooftops and canyons of Manhattan, a city seemingly so far removed from Tomas’ recently ravaged country of origin, the Philipines. The featured model floats across the metropolitan landscape with a self-reflective, if not melancholy, demeanor as she contemplates the realities of the spiritual, economic and physical divide between the comfort and security of New York’s cultural elite and the unfathomable trials and tribulations of the less fortunate living abroad.

Official video for TOMAS Holiday/Resort 2013 Collection as directed by Evaan Kheraj via papercutmagazine

“Being raised in a house by my Filipino actress mother, I grew up watching a wide selection of both local and Western films. I truly appreciate the power of film, especially in the age of YouTube, Vimeo, etc. where film is easy to access, providing instant gratification especially for short attention spans. I wanted to celebrate fashion and the New York lifestyle, but I also wanted to take a moment to tap into something slightly more reflexive and compassionate. We take so many things for granted here every single day.”

Ten percent of all online sales will go to Typhoon hit communities in the Philippines (Tomas’ mother’s side of the family hails from Samar Island, where the recent typhoon named Haiyan initially hit land). “My mother shared over the phone that you wouldn’t be able to comprehend the full scale of the devastation in a photo or brief video. This was the biggest storm in hundreds of years. It’s just immense. Imagine Katrina and the Tsunami happening at the same time, assaulting the land with waves four times the size of those that hit Banda Aceh in 2004. We need to keep helping, no matter how big or small the contribution.”

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Guests at the event included Filipino fashion week standout Riza Manalo, who is now collaborating with John Varvatos and working on her own Spring 2014 line. Like Tomas, Manalo’s bountiful energy and enthusiasm for fashion and philanthropy fostered a compassionate and humble energy not often found at high-end fashion events.

Manalo continued to echo Tomas’ sentiments about international philanthropy: “In light of this tragedy, seeing all these different countries helping out, shows how small the world really is, and hopefully, that will never go out of style.” — KURT MCVEY

Read more stories by Kurt here.

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