Not one but two. “Who are you wearing?” used to solicit a singular name of a top Manila designer when high society ladies glided down the red carpet. Now, all that has changed. The new rule in dressing formal is to mix two designer pieces.
During the Red Gala at the Makati Shang’s Rizal Ballroom last Saturday night, many women of style and substance had the smarts and the confidence to put together two entirely different looks to create a new one that was fresh, bold and so original.
Agile Zamora layered a Joel Escober strapless gown with a Jun Escario blouse she saw at the Jewelmer show three days before. Ingrid Chua wore a Lanvin cocktail dress that was tucked into a flowing ballroom skirt by Carmen Reyes Papa and that peeked out like a camisole.
Salome Uy united a Rajo Laurel rich obi bustier with a fiery red Randy Ortiz serpentina skirt, while statuesque Trish Panlilio wore her sexy Jun Escario under her boyfriend’s tuxedo jacket.
All of this means that the couture client is now becoming her best stylist. She has achieved the kind of panache that balances practicality and style. If you wanna get it, you have to edit. Elegance is the refusal to go overboard.
To mix but not exactly to match pieces is now a trend alert. Imagine how difficult it is to navigate going to the powder room, sitting for dinner and dancing in a strapless mermaid gown
that’s only held up by a zipper and a prayer. Suddenly, the notion of dragging around a fabric fishtail or struggling in over-the-top designer duds seems de mode and so last century.
Wearing an upper garment like a beautiful white silk blouse or bustier and pairing it with a trumpet ankle-length skirt or trendy palazzo pants (like what Mikee Cojuangco did) is the new look for Manila’s fashion-conscious set.
Extend and expand
“It’s (brought about by) their subconscious desire to extend and expand their wardrobe choices,” noted Pepito Albert. “They attend many galas and they can’t be seen wearing the same gown. So the final solution is to layer pieces into what would look like a one-piece formal—adding and subtracting until they get the hang of it.” Albert himself mixed his own black tuxedo look with a Lanvin jacket, Rick Owen pants and a Maison Margiela top.
Hot white long gowns sizzled against the all-black Rizal Ballroom. The best were worn by Vicki Belo and Andi Eigenmann, who were my dinner partners. Beside me were Ricky Carandang and Ces Drilon, who was in emerald green chiffon.
Lace, whether chantilly or guipure on nude hour-glass gowns, is a ship about to sail away. Anything too labor-intensive, too beaded like bad copies of Cary Santiago’s masterpieces, now only resemble tattoos on a fashion addict.
Go a bit more structured with minimal embellishments, and experiment with new fabrics like the crepe neoprene knockout couture pieces of Ezra Santos, which were presented during the Red Cross Ball.
All black has become too blah nowadays, too, and you literally blend into the all-black background of the Shangri-La ballroom, so amp up your color wheel with new macaron pastels.
Like beautiful Ching Cruz, who was in hot pink and shiny sorbet shades—which, from the recent Paris and London shows for Spring-Summer 2014, may be the next big thing.
So, with the reign of sexy separates, I will now be asking all local designers: “Are you a bottom or a top?”