By Maxine Todd
While London Fashion Week is in full swing, here in Glasgow at the Film Festival we had the chance to view a very different kind of fashion show.
The World’s Most Fashionable Prison documents the heartwarming story of a group of inmates at the gang-run New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City, Philippines, who are taking part in an extraordinary project.
Fashion designer Puey Quinones visits the prison (home to 17,000 inmates including murderers, rapists and war criminals) once a week, teaching a group to design and make a collection in preparation for a final competitive fashion show held in the prison itself. Director CK Mak intertwines the stories and hardships of the inmates with the tale of Quinones’ own past and the scandal that almost destroyed his career.
The foundation of the documentary is the build-up to the fashion show and the effort and passion which we see the inmates exert into their projects. It is very endearing to the audience, allowing us to develop a fondness for them, and see past their previous crimes.
We learn of Quinones’ own scandalous career move – the retagging of a department store-bought garment which he then sold as his own – yet we instantly forgive him and feel sympathy as we have already seen that he is in fact a very kind person, who we could never imagine being intentionally malicious.
To the relief of the audience the final fashion show is a great success, as is the documentary itself, which depicts that fashion and humanity can be found even in the most unlikely of places.