GUMA' GELA': HOUSE OF EXISTENCE
October 2020 - February 2021
Jessie's mom ironing flags before the runway.
Guma’ Gela' is an inclusive collective with a mission to cultivate and innovate the CHamoru culture through interdisciplinary artistic expression. We are storytellers made up of illustrators, make-up artists, poets, performers, photographers, singers, weavers and designers! Through our collaborative work, we amplify each others’ voice and bring fantasy into reality. Effectively granting people permission to exist in their entirety while building community.
Our vision for this collection is to be “part land, part sea, all ancestry."
Note: The word gela' roughly translates to different, and is a pejorative used to describe queer and trans CHamoru people. Here, as a collective made up of gela' people, we are using the word to also mean existence as well. In a way, we exist because of our difference and wanted to create a guma' (house) where we are able to do that.
7TH ANNUAL LONDON PACIFIC FASHION WEEK
In September 2018, four diasporic CHamoru folks made their across the Atlantic, to represent the Mariana Islands for the first time at LPFW. Three artists created the looks while another cared for makeup and style. Together, this was their story.
To listen to the runway song as you explore, click HERE.
To see the rest of the show, along with the ten other designers from around the Pacific, click HERE.
Jessica Vergel | Designer
Hafa Adai! I’m Jessie and I’m twenty years-old. I’m currently studying Communication Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. My personal art and design work focuses on progressing the representation and voice of CHamoru people and our culture. Through experimenting with multiple mediums, I aim to create messages and imagery that are colorful, positive and whimsical. Although I was born and raised in the states, my maternal grandmother is from Agana Heights and my paternal grandmother is from Sinajana, on Guahan. I am dedicating my work to them.
Guma’ Gela’s quote “Part land, part sea & all ancestry,” unifies my four garments because each garment is designated to embodying the land, the ocean and my CHamoru ancestors. On the garments, I am using words, imagery and colors that I personally and culturally resonate with, to contemporarily pay homage to my CHamoru identity. Through the process of printmaking and painting symbolic images like the Latte Stone and native flowers to Guam, I am discovering more about my culture and history. It allows me to continue valuing the land and its resources. Additionally, I am using typography and quotes help my audience to understand my passion for my heritage. This project has allowed me to artistically express what it means for me to be a modern-day CHamoru woman.
See more of my work @vergelcreates on IG.
Roquin-Jon Quichocho Siongco | Designer
My name is Roquin and I am an artist and designer living in Guahan. Raised in Yigo, I have always been creative. When I first picked up weaving at a young age, I channeled my artistic efforts towards my CHamoru heritage.
I dedicate my work to my family and loved ones who have always supported me throughout my endeavors. Especially my nana, whom I inherited my creativity from. This collection is just chesa (a taste) of what's to come. "Part land, part sea, all ancestry", these fashions embody just that. Through the process of innovation, this aesthetic aids the evolution of what is means to be CHamoru. With an approach of limitless imagination, I hope to remind ourselves our right to freely exist in all that we are and move towards all we can be.
You can find me @rockin_roquin on IG.
Clay Joshua Aflleje | Makeup artist
Håfa adai! My name is Clay Joshua Aflleje. I was born & raised on Guahan in the village of Tamuning. During my time in Guahan I had the great opportunity & pleasure of working alongside other very talented local artists as a makeup artist working on photo shoots, pageants, weddings as well as fashion shows. As a makeup artist, My art is inherently ephemeral, but the effects of which could last a lifetime, sewing seeds of self love & confidence through enhancing unique natural features of the face & inspiring the wearer to impose their beauty onto the world.
My goal for the makeup in this project is to use colors & textures indicative of Guahan while complimenting the pieces & adding to the allure of the modern CHamoru. My inspiration for my style & way of being is my grandmother, a woman who not only cultivated her land but her style as well. Her spirit lives on in my approach to makeup and how I navigate my life as modern CHamoru man.
Find me @byclayjosh on IG.
Roldy Aguero Ablao | Artist
Hafa adai yan buenas todos hamyu! My name is Roldy Aguero Ablao and my family comes from the island of Guam in the Marianas, the Philippines and Korea. I was raised in the small village of Yona, spending my formative years on the island until I moved to Seattle to attend college at the University of Washington. An island person through and through, it took me some years to let go of the shorts and t-shirts I brought from the island to the flannel and corduroy that is so iconic of the Pacific Northwest.
The island has always been a home for me, and find myself calling back to it in my art and the things that I create. Through her stories, her people, her resilience - it is these things that keep me moving forward, and inspires me to continue creating and sharing more about this place I call home.
Check out my instagram @hafaroldy.
garments designed by Roquin-Jon Siongco
LPFW Launch Day at the New Zealand Embassy in London
makeup and photos by Clay Aflleje
before the runway (photos by Clay Aflleje)
behind the scenes w/ the models (photos by Clay Aflleje)