Albert Andrada couldn’t have asked for a better affirmation of his work.
After presenting his 21-piece Brigitte Bardot-inspired fashion collection a fortnight ago, a Frenchman approached the Filipino designer and paid him
“He told me, ‘No offense, Albert, but I thought the clothes were made by a French designer. I was surprised when I saw you step out,’” Andrada recalls. “That is my goal, to show the world-class talent of the Filipino designer.”
Andrada’s “BB Forever: Brigitte Bardot, La Legende” fashion collection was his second solo show with and at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel. It was staged during the unveiling of a collection of 30 photographs featuring the iconic actress dubbed as “the French Marilyn Monroe.”
The exhibit is on tour of Sofitel’s properties from New York, Chicago, Washington to Los Angeles. After the Manila run, which ends on Sept. 10, the exhibit will make a final stop at Sofitel Mumbai.
“We’re a French-managed property, and we believe that Brigitte Bardot is the reflection of French elegance, just like the service we provide,” explains Adam Laker, Sofitel Philippine Plaza’s general manager.
Andrada is a former fashion designer for Middle Eastern royalty. He worked in the United Arab Emirates for 20 years before coming home last year and setting up a boutique at Greenbelt 5, Makati City. His first Sofitel show was held early this year at Spiral, the popular buffet restaurant-bar.
This time, the designer told Bardot’s story, focusing on the ’50s, when she ruled the silver screen with her extraordinary sex appeal and luminosity.
Andrada’s curtain raisers were lamé-type jersey tops with jewel-toned leggings beaded with Swarovski crystals. The black tops had illusion tulle panels that showed hints of skin to underscore Bardot’s image as a sex symbol. The jewel tones were a nod to makeup sponsor Lancome’s new Hypnose palette.
You could tell Andrada practiced restraint—the first four pieces were sexy, but not in-your-face sexy. He says this is in keeping with his audience’s presumed conservative sensibilities.
“When I met with Sofitel and I was given the peg, I thought it would be very easy,” he says. “But as I did my research, I realized that Bardot’s look called for opulence, which was in sync with what I do. But I wanted to make sure that I didn’t go over-the-top.”
And tone down he did, but only the beadwork. He didn’t sacrifice fabrication. He used French laces, iridescent printed taffeta and textured jerseys sourced from Paris, Italy and Dubai, his same suppliers when he worked for Dubai’s royal family.
The evening show, held amid a sumptuous buffet spread at the hotel’s Le Bar, showcased many things French—apart from Lancome, Bardot’s famous beehive ’do and sexily tousled hair were recreated by L’Oreal Professionel’s Philippe Tordjman, with jewelry provided by Jewelmer.
“It was important for me that the models wore real jewelry,” Andrada notes. “Bardot was born rich. She wasn’t just an actress who became successful.”
The designer’s personal favorite was the French lace segment—blush-toned, red-carpet looks that were a nod to the feminine and romantic shapes of the ’50s. Emphasis was placed on small waists and voluptuous hips. There were strips of fabric undulating on the bodice to create volume.
Andrada’s finale was a bridal dress, worn by beauty queen Gwendolyn Ruais, to “signify the end of Brigitte’s journey,” he said of the actress who had a colorful love life, having married four times.
The high-neck sleeveless wedding dress was of skin-tone tulle “because it’s appreciated by men,” fully embroidered and beaded, lined only on the lower half to preserve the model’s modesty, Andrada says with a laugh.
The “BB Forever” photos, highlighting the actress-turned-animal activist’s film career and love life, are on display at the Sofitel lobby’s Le Bar (call 5515555 or e-mail email@example.com) until Sept. 10.
There will be guided tours of the exhibit, with a Saint-Tropez-theme afternoon tea, featuring delights inspired by the glitzy French holiday town popularized internationally by Bardot. Her film, “And God Created Woman,” was shot there.
In Saint-Tropez, Bardot met several of the men she would be romantically involved with. Saint-Tropez was her playground, and ultimately her home, where she lives to this day with her fourth husband.
PHOTOS BY ANDREW TADALAN