Jo Ann Bitagcol
Jo Ann Bitagcol’s journey as a visual artist saw a seamless shifting from muse to lens woman and later, a designer under her namesake brand, BITAGCOL. Following a stellar career as a fashion model, she found her place behind the lens.
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A Visual and Tactile Thesis on Fashion, Photography and Philippine Culture
Jo Ann Bitagcol
(Model/Photographer/Artist/Designer, Bitagcol, Philippines)
How it began. BITAGCOL is a culmination of a personal journey in fashion and art. It is informed by purpose, good intentions, and sense of connectedness. It began with Jo Ann Bitagcol’s extensive body of work as a fashion model and muse. This would later lead to a career in photography which saw a uniquely raw and straightforward point of view borne out of Bitagcol’s lens. Later, and with formal training in dress making, Bitagcol sought out a new canvas for her imagery. It was one that would circle back to her roots in fashion: garments. The idea was to celebrate and capture intricate and sometimes sentimental facets of Philippine life through photographs. These very same images were then applied onto garments that essentially bore the attributes of timeless, wearable and distinctly Philippine-made pieces of art.
In the past years since its founding, Bitagcol has presented an evolving thesis on local visual arts, culture and fashion. The brand’s canvas has expanded to include scarves, tops, aprons, and skirts. These articles of clothing mirror a modern style sensibility, equal parts global and uniquely Filipino. Subjects have likewise spanned a wide spectrum of themes—from the vintage national dress and accessories, time honored embroidery, landscapes, Philippine pearls and precision cut candy wrappers. Every image digitally transferred onto the BITAGCOL’s pieces echo intimate details of local life in the past, present and future.
Capturing Philippine art and culture
The art and culture landscape in the Philippines continues to thrive with the increased appreciation for contemporary art. Beyond the traditional mediums of expression, a collaborative spirit between creators–painters, sculptors, photographers, and fashion designers–have paved the path for a more intimate connection and personal interaction between art and observer.
In the case of BITAGCOL, the artist tells the story of Philippine culture and its fashion evolution, inviting the observer to become one with the artwork. Her imagery also captures details that allude to nostalgic moments in the past— that continue to resonate in the present and live on in the future.
Jo Ann Bitagcol’s journey as a visual artist saw a seamless shifting from muse to lens woman and later, a designer under her namesake brand, BITAGCOL. Following a stellar career as a fashion model, she found her place behind the lens. Bitagcol’s images are distinguished by a raw and fresh point of view—devoid of the unnecessary layers or frills. Her storytelling through photography is strikingly simple yet full of depth and insight.
Bitagcol later applied her signature imagery onto garments, which birthed the BITAGCOL brand. Its premier collection in May 2019 saw a transfer of her digital prints onto silk satin scarves. Bitagcol shares: “I wanted to sell my photographs, but on a different medium. So, I thought I would translate them into wearable art pieces that are functional.” This would later pave the way for an exploration into other garments including her now-iconic shirts, robes, skirts, and aprons.
From the debut collection of vintage photographs for Baul to nostalgic floral prints of Alaala, Bitagcol’s narratives succinctly capture intimate moments, emotions, and memories. Her pieces transport the viewer, wearer or observer into another place, time and state of mind. Eachcollection from the brand is an invitation from the artist to enter a universe of introspection, reminiscence, and aspiration. It is a solemn ode to Philippine culture–then, now and tomorrow.
BITAGCOL is established in 2021. Founded on purpose, miracle, and connection.It is about honoring the self, roots, ancestors and family.Creating with good intentions and doing it with love and this is what BITAGCOL stands for.