It was fitting and fair that the powers that be at Philippine Fashion Week Holiday 2012 accorded the designers based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, their own premier presentation. For their sheer showmanship, ornate fabrication and blinding embellishments, these world-class talents could easily obliterate anyone who was unfortunate enough to be thrown into their own cliquish company.
While London is where a budding designer goes to study, and New York is where he learns about commercial viability, Dubai is the place to be to practice his couture inclinations.
The Middle East is like a playground for the inherently creative Pinoy designer. With the region’s natural penchant for the exaggerated and grandiose, and the abundance of fabric and design materials at any designer’s disposable, it’s no wonder that some of our brilliant designing minds are immensely fulfilled to work there.
“Filipino designers are so good because they are trained with limited means. Back home [in the Philippines], you’re supposed to be resourceful and ultracreative to make something amazing out of the simple materials available,” says the soft-spoken effete, Central Saint Martins grad Ezra Santos, in his web site ezrafashiondesign.com, which is also the name of his own fashion house in Dubai.
Together with his bosom buddies Albert Andrada, Bandoix Flores and Butz Fuentes, Santos unleashed an astonishing collection that proved that the Pinoy talent is of international calibre. Steeped in the Galliano/Lacroix/McQueen/
Santos’s Memoirs of an Arabian Princess collection is his “commitment to artistry, handicraft and extravagance, as each couture creation features modern ornamentation and crystallization.” He also called it Shamal, the north winds that bring sandstorms, so the palette is of desert sands. “This collection is a tribute to the city that has been so good to me, Dubai. Most of the gowns are made of French Chantilly lace, while the menswear is a modern version of the Arabic thobe,” he added.
Andrada, the in-house designer for the Fujairah Ruler’s Palace, referenced the Japanese porcelain marbles and lanterns in his collection of chamois, silk shantung, tulle, chiffon and leather; the menswear pieces with broad shoulders is in honor of the fierce Japanese warriors.
He said he was also inspired by Slim’s, the school where he studied. Besides his heavily Swarovski’d and bodacious numbers, Andrada’s shantung taffeta pieces were clear standouts for their simplicity. “I wanted to show that I can do dresses without embellishments but with couture cutting,” the ebullient designer said after the show.
As an homage to Ramon Valera, Andrada sent down the runway the supermodel Marina Benipayo and her six “ladies-in-waiting” in jacquard capes that concealed illusion tulle skin-tone siren gowns.
“Being a personal fashion designer of a royal family is challenging. Pressure is just a common word in my workplace. I enjoy my work a lot because I get the chance to travel a lot. my stay in London yearly for two months, is so inspiring in creating new ideas for my new collection every year. Of course my main inspiration in my life is Jesus, who is always present in my life. I am so grateful to Him for what I am and where I am now,” he posted in his Facebook page.
Fuentes had pieces where shoulders had unconventionally sleeves, with bone-stiffening techniques inserted into the garments, depicting birds taking their flight to freedom.
The very reserved Bandoix Flores unveiled his La Divina collection that was serious and severe in mood and intent. “I stick to my line. I do black and white all the time,” he emphasized, then pointing to Christian Espiritu, added. “And I listened to the master’s advice to minimize all the bling.”
The legendary designer gave his approval to Flores’ design philosophy, saying: “I like Bandoix’s collection the most, because it’s the most wearable.”
Fuentes, known in the blogosphere as The StyleMonger, called his comeback collection Birds in a Cage. This must have been inspired from the feathered inhabitants of his Montana Fuentes farm in his native Zamboanga City.
His clothes speak of his irreverence. After all, it was he who declared nonchalantly that, “If you don’t have it, buy it (Hermes). If you can’t afford, borrow. If not, steal.”
The Dubai contingent, also known as The Revillas, will be here until mid-June to support Furne One, fresh from his successful stint at Perth Fashion Week and de facto official designer of Heidi Klum andGermany’s Next Top Model, for his June 12 show for Mega magazine’s anniversary.