Press

2019-01-07 | by Miss Charlize

Best of 2018: ‘Clash of the Titans’

life01 010719 696x380

 

FORTY-FIVE years ago, the world’s social powers descended on the world’s fashion capital to witness five kings of French couture (YSL, Givenchy, Ungaro, Cardin, Dior’s Bohan) face off against five upstart American sportswear designers (Blass, Burrows, Klein, Halston, de la Renta) in what would become known as “The Battle of Versailles.”

 

The journalist Robin Givhan writes in her book with the aforementioned title: “By the time the spotlight dimmed and the curtain came down on the night’s spectacle, fashion history had been made and an industry had been forever transformed.”

 

In my heart, what the witnesses must have felt on that night on November 28, 1973, at the Théâtre Gabriel in Château de Versailles was also somewhat experienced by the attendees of the fashion spectacle “World CLASS,” staged at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel on October 6, 2018: fashion at its finest, grandest, most beautiful.

 

“World CLASS” gathered in one sensational bridal show Philippine fashion’s “mythical five”: Michael Cinco, Francis Libiran, Furne One of Furne Amato, Ezra Santos and Cary Santiago. In another couture epoch, an unprecedented lineup would be Ramon Valera, Salvacion Lim Higgins, Jose “Pitoy” Moreno, Ben Farrales and Aureo Alonzo. In another Golden Age of Philippine Fashion, the quintet would be Joe Salazar, Inno Sotto, Auggie Cordero, Gang Gomez and Cesar Gaupo.

 

Versailles had Marie-Hélène de Rothschild, the doyenne of French society, greeting guests. In Cebu, it was Santiago, the best Filipino designer practicing in the country, holding court. As the brainchild of the epic event, Santiago was able to gather—and have them behave—rivals of all colors and all sectors at the Pacific Grand Ballroom.

 

It was easy for Santiago to persuade the other designers to participate in the most epic fashion show in decades, recalling the heydays of the Kahirup Balls and Karilagan shows at World’s Fairs. “Michael and I were roommates in Dubai. We then invited Furne to join us. Ezra was already a name there, though he looks younger than us. Francis is a social-media darling, after his stint at America’s Next Top Model,” Santiago said.

 

Waterfront Cebu gave massive support, coproducing the show with Santiago, an undertaking I think Manila can’t afford. Even if he perfected his craft in war-torn Beirut, Santiago still harbored doubts hours before the show. “I was depressed. This was in Cebu, my city, my home court. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. Up until the last minute, I was reediting,” he related. His spirits were lifted, however, when his idol, the legendary Inno Sotto, praised him: “Cary, your collection is a work of art.”

 

Santiago once again showed his love for “Aviary,” a theme he started exploring in 2004 with his winning “Pag-Asa” entry at the Philippine Fashion Design Competition. “I’ve always been fascinated with birds. One time, I went on vacation to Davao and saw Pag-Asa [the first Philippine eagle bred and hatched in captivity]. I thought it was the most magnificent creature I ever saw. When it noticed that I was in awe, it showed off its wings,” Santiago said.

It wasn’t Maya Angelou’s “Caged Bird” or Björk’s Marjan Pejowski’s swan dress that Santiagounleashed at the show, but sculptural, draped renditions that only he knows how to exceptionally construct. “I wanted to show freedom, of birds in flight,” he said. Think more Cary-esque Yves Saint Laurent’s Georges Braque-inspired “doves” wedding dress from his 1988 Rive Gauche collection, or elevated interpretations of Cecil Beaton’s gowns for Leslie Caron in Gigi.

 

For his spine-tingling portion, One was inspired by the ornate architecture of cathedrals, Catholic vestments and religious iconography for his “Amor Vincit Omnia” collection, which means “Love Conquers All” in Latin. The finale piece, worn by the magnificent Marina Benipayo, sent the audience to its feet. It was an “iconic fabric sculpture created with rows of ruffled tulle in various sizes. The finale embodies angel wings with its curved sleeves and statement headpiece.”

 

One is also a native Cebuano like Santiago: “Who could say no to being a part of such a prestigious, rare gathering of the country’s most talented and acclaimed artists? For as long as I can remember, we Filipinos have looked up to the designers of Paris and Milan. This is where we can show our fellow Filipinos that we, too, are capable of creative, beautiful, world-class garments to represent the Philippines and make the country proud.”

 

Had he lived during Hollywood’s Glamour Age, Santos would have thrived alongside Adrian (who created clothes for Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford and Katharine Hepburn), Orry-Kelly (Bette Davis in Jezebel) and Edith Head (Grace Kelly in Rear Window, among others).

 

His collection for “World CLASS” is evidence of his elegant aesthetic. “My inspiration is from the 1930s but giving it a modern twist. It’s a beautiful era of fashion—glamorous, tailored, strong but still feminine,” he explained.

 

Santos showed structured gowns and corsets and cutting the tailored suit to midrib. “I used men’s suiting fabrics for women and layers upon layers of tulle. Embroidery with icy crystals and mother-of-pearl rectangular sequins and beads with off-white and nude petticoats,” he said. “The finale piece, worn by Binibining Cebu 2017 Apriel Smith, is made with hand-embroidered cape embellished with Swarovski crystals with a dove of peace head piece—the symbol of ‘Love and Hope,’ which is the title of my collection.”

 

The “L” in “CLASS” was the hardest to cast, I assume. Monique Lhuillier, the acclaimed bridal designer this side of Vera Wang, was a natural consensus, being a French-Cebuana. The London-based Lesley Mobo, I would’ve considered. Rajo Laurel was busy with his Red Charity Gala. Jesus Lloren would be a refreshing breather from all the bling and tulle.

 

Libiran, though younger and not Middle East battle-scarred, was an inspired choice. He was overwhelmed by the invitation: “Of course I had to say yes! It’s such an honor to to be part of this fashion show with some of the greatest geniuses of the fashion world. I was motivated to be more creative, innovative and think out of the box, and create a collection that was different from any I’ve designed before. It was also a platform to show the country and the world, the artistry and talent of Filipinos and our dedication to our craft.”

 

In “Opulence,” an ode to his architectural background, he wanted to relive our Art Deco past, when Manila was the “Paris of Asia.” Libiran’s finale piece, carried with great discomfort by Miss International 2016 Kylie Verzosa, was nonetheless a gown to behold: “I had a lot of these individually embroidered panels in different sizes, sort of like Art Deco petals. Every panel was meticulously beaded by hand and carefully sewn onto a structured soft tulle base. I wanted to create something that looked beautiful from afar, and the more you get closer and see all the little details and intricacies, you get to see how bold and magnificent the piece truly is.”

 

It was Cinco, arguably the most internationally recognized of the five, who opened the show with supermodel Ria Bolivar to a rousing start with his “Impalpable Dream of the Royals” collection. “I was inspired and influenced by the Victorian princesses who were larger than life, lovers of arts, had a towering presence and were powerful stateswomen in any empire,” the pouty designer said.

 

“Most of my fabrics are luxurious lace that make an impact, and these are exquisite crystallized tulle and lightweight impalpable tulle. Most of them are embroidered and decorated by hand, and to get hold of such precious cloth is not easy. However, they produce magic in every creation,” Cinco explained.

 

“From this point forward, Filipino talent has no geographical boundaries not only here in the Philippines but also in the international market,” Cinco noted. “It was a good thing to see international designers putting Filipino fashion on the map. We all have a strong vision and a high quality of work that needs to be showcased here in our motherland.”

 

“World CLASS” was truly a “Clash of the Titans.” Santiago can rightfully bask in the show’s successful afterglow. “Furne came ready for battle. Michael came prepared; he has nothing to prove anymore. Ezra, everyone loved because his clothes are wearable. Francis is a social-media superstar,” Santiago assessed. Will there be a rematch next year? “Yes!”

 

Image Credits: PHOTOGRAPHED BY ARIEL AYING SALUPAN

2019-01-07 | by Miss Charlize

Best of 2018: ‘Clash of the Titans’

life01 010719 696x380

 

FORTY-FIVE years ago, the world’s social powers descended on the world’s fashion capital to witness five kings of French couture (YSL, Givenchy, Ungaro, Cardin, Dior’s Bohan) face off against five upstart American sportswear designers (Blass, Burrows, Klein, Halston, de la Renta) in what would become known as “The Battle of Versailles.”

 

The journalist Robin Givhan writes in her book with the aforementioned title: “By the time the spotlight dimmed and the curtain came down on the night’s spectacle, fashion history had been made and an industry had been forever transformed.”

 

In my heart, what the witnesses must have felt on that night on November 28, 1973, at the Théâtre Gabriel in Château de Versailles was also somewhat experienced by the attendees of the fashion spectacle “World CLASS,” staged at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel on October 6, 2018: fashion at its finest, grandest, most beautiful.

 

“World CLASS” gathered in one sensational bridal show Philippine fashion’s “mythical five”: Michael Cinco, Francis Libiran, Furne One of Furne Amato, Ezra Santos and Cary Santiago. In another couture epoch, an unprecedented lineup would be Ramon Valera, Salvacion Lim Higgins, Jose “Pitoy” Moreno, Ben Farrales and Aureo Alonzo. In another Golden Age of Philippine Fashion, the quintet would be Joe Salazar, Inno Sotto, Auggie Cordero, Gang Gomez and Cesar Gaupo.

 

Versailles had Marie-Hélène de Rothschild, the doyenne of French society, greeting guests. In Cebu, it was Santiago, the best Filipino designer practicing in the country, holding court. As the brainchild of the epic event, Santiago was able to gather—and have them behave—rivals of all colors and all sectors at the Pacific Grand Ballroom.

 

It was easy for Santiago to persuade the other designers to participate in the most epic fashion show in decades, recalling the heydays of the Kahirup Balls and Karilagan shows at World’s Fairs. “Michael and I were roommates in Dubai. We then invited Furne to join us. Ezra was already a name there, though he looks younger than us. Francis is a social-media darling, after his stint at America’s Next Top Model,” Santiago said.

 

Waterfront Cebu gave massive support, coproducing the show with Santiago, an undertaking I think Manila can’t afford. Even if he perfected his craft in war-torn Beirut, Santiago still harbored doubts hours before the show. “I was depressed. This was in Cebu, my city, my home court. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. Up until the last minute, I was reediting,” he related. His spirits were lifted, however, when his idol, the legendary Inno Sotto, praised him: “Cary, your collection is a work of art.”

 

Santiago once again showed his love for “Aviary,” a theme he started exploring in 2004 with his winning “Pag-Asa” entry at the Philippine Fashion Design Competition. “I’ve always been fascinated with birds. One time, I went on vacation to Davao and saw Pag-Asa [the first Philippine eagle bred and hatched in captivity]. I thought it was the most magnificent creature I ever saw. When it noticed that I was in awe, it showed off its wings,” Santiago said.

It wasn’t Maya Angelou’s “Caged Bird” or Björk’s Marjan Pejowski’s swan dress that Santiagounleashed at the show, but sculptural, draped renditions that only he knows how to exceptionally construct. “I wanted to show freedom, of birds in flight,” he said. Think more Cary-esque Yves Saint Laurent’s Georges Braque-inspired “doves” wedding dress from his 1988 Rive Gauche collection, or elevated interpretations of Cecil Beaton’s gowns for Leslie Caron in Gigi.

 

For his spine-tingling portion, One was inspired by the ornate architecture of cathedrals, Catholic vestments and religious iconography for his “Amor Vincit Omnia” collection, which means “Love Conquers All” in Latin. The finale piece, worn by the magnificent Marina Benipayo, sent the audience to its feet. It was an “iconic fabric sculpture created with rows of ruffled tulle in various sizes. The finale embodies angel wings with its curved sleeves and statement headpiece.”

 

One is also a native Cebuano like Santiago: “Who could say no to being a part of such a prestigious, rare gathering of the country’s most talented and acclaimed artists? For as long as I can remember, we Filipinos have looked up to the designers of Paris and Milan. This is where we can show our fellow Filipinos that we, too, are capable of creative, beautiful, world-class garments to represent the Philippines and make the country proud.”

 

Had he lived during Hollywood’s Glamour Age, Santos would have thrived alongside Adrian (who created clothes for Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford and Katharine Hepburn), Orry-Kelly (Bette Davis in Jezebel) and Edith Head (Grace Kelly in Rear Window, among others).

 

His collection for “World CLASS” is evidence of his elegant aesthetic. “My inspiration is from the 1930s but giving it a modern twist. It’s a beautiful era of fashion—glamorous, tailored, strong but still feminine,” he explained.

 

Santos showed structured gowns and corsets and cutting the tailored suit to midrib. “I used men’s suiting fabrics for women and layers upon layers of tulle. Embroidery with icy crystals and mother-of-pearl rectangular sequins and beads with off-white and nude petticoats,” he said. “The finale piece, worn by Binibining Cebu 2017 Apriel Smith, is made with hand-embroidered cape embellished with Swarovski crystals with a dove of peace head piece—the symbol of ‘Love and Hope,’ which is the title of my collection.”

 

The “L” in “CLASS” was the hardest to cast, I assume. Monique Lhuillier, the acclaimed bridal designer this side of Vera Wang, was a natural consensus, being a French-Cebuana. The London-based Lesley Mobo, I would’ve considered. Rajo Laurel was busy with his Red Charity Gala. Jesus Lloren would be a refreshing breather from all the bling and tulle.

 

Libiran, though younger and not Middle East battle-scarred, was an inspired choice. He was overwhelmed by the invitation: “Of course I had to say yes! It’s such an honor to to be part of this fashion show with some of the greatest geniuses of the fashion world. I was motivated to be more creative, innovative and think out of the box, and create a collection that was different from any I’ve designed before. It was also a platform to show the country and the world, the artistry and talent of Filipinos and our dedication to our craft.”

 

In “Opulence,” an ode to his architectural background, he wanted to relive our Art Deco past, when Manila was the “Paris of Asia.” Libiran’s finale piece, carried with great discomfort by Miss International 2016 Kylie Verzosa, was nonetheless a gown to behold: “I had a lot of these individually embroidered panels in different sizes, sort of like Art Deco petals. Every panel was meticulously beaded by hand and carefully sewn onto a structured soft tulle base. I wanted to create something that looked beautiful from afar, and the more you get closer and see all the little details and intricacies, you get to see how bold and magnificent the piece truly is.”

 

It was Cinco, arguably the most internationally recognized of the five, who opened the show with supermodel Ria Bolivar to a rousing start with his “Impalpable Dream of the Royals” collection. “I was inspired and influenced by the Victorian princesses who were larger than life, lovers of arts, had a towering presence and were powerful stateswomen in any empire,” the pouty designer said.

 

“Most of my fabrics are luxurious lace that make an impact, and these are exquisite crystallized tulle and lightweight impalpable tulle. Most of them are embroidered and decorated by hand, and to get hold of such precious cloth is not easy. However, they produce magic in every creation,” Cinco explained.

 

“From this point forward, Filipino talent has no geographical boundaries not only here in the Philippines but also in the international market,” Cinco noted. “It was a good thing to see international designers putting Filipino fashion on the map. We all have a strong vision and a high quality of work that needs to be showcased here in our motherland.”

 

“World CLASS” was truly a “Clash of the Titans.” Santiago can rightfully bask in the show’s successful afterglow. “Furne came ready for battle. Michael came prepared; he has nothing to prove anymore. Ezra, everyone loved because his clothes are wearable. Francis is a social-media superstar,” Santiago assessed. Will there be a rematch next year? “Yes!”

 

Image Credits: PHOTOGRAPHED BY ARIEL AYING SALUPAN

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