Albert Andrada–designer to Arab royals, now dressing up ManilaBy Paul Palmero
One afternoon on a laid-back weekend, Dubai-bred designer Albert Andrada sat on his swivel chair. Three sheets of new bridal sketches lay on his table, his pens and ruler scattered on the side.
Dressed in black from head to toe, with the exception of his brown wayfarers, Andrada was the picture of someone with a firm grasp on his passion—luxe wear, as he would later describe his creations.
Before returning to the country, Andrada had established a glittering career in the Middle East as a favored designer of Arab royals. Now he has returned to serve as as a lecturer, resource speaker and mentor to students at the venerable Slim’s College of Fashion and Design, where he first took up formal fashion courses. He has also set up shop in Greenbelt 5, where he entertains clients from blushing brides-to-be to power celebrities and society names.
It was only after graduating from San Sebastian College that Andrada enrolled at Slim’s. Finding himself an OFW in Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia in the mid-’80s, he began designing graduation gowns, corporate uniforms, RTW pieces and couture. When he transferred to Dubai, he won the royal family’s approval, bagging the prized Swarovski award in 2002 and designing clothes for the ruling family.
“Staying at the palace strengthened my grasp of my style—the ’80s was a great era in fashion,” said Andrada.
“Today’s young designers are more adventurous and privileged because of technology and that is great,” he said.
His RTW business at the mall is teaching him new things. “I am shocked a client would walk in, request a design and seal the deal—without ever asking for a discount,” he said. “There is clearly a market for my designs here and it’s now harder for me to leave.”
His shop has black walls “because I want the dresses to really stand out, like artifacts in a museum,” he said.
And shoppers taking photos of his dresses is okay with the designer. “It’s really okay if they take photos—they’re taking a part of me with them,” he said.
He’s looking to expand his label into footwear and jewelry, menswear and a kiddie line.
His countless Europe trips have taught Andrada that morning is his most creative time of the day. “I’d sit on train stations and just observe. You’d be surprised how people dress up.”
Period movies are another source of inspiration.
He laments the fact that Filipino beauty queens are being made to wear the works of foreign designers when they compete abroad.
“It is just unfair to hand this important task to foreign designers. Filipino designers and talents are among the very best in the world,” he said. “Filipinas are standouts on their own merit, because of their skin.”