These are belt-tightening times, quite literally. Designer Pat Santos is reviving the tiny waistline and the full skirt.
Santos’ premier fully beaded cocktail and formal collection will be seen at Philippine Fashion Week (PFW) on May 31 at the SMX Convention Center.
Channeling Audrey Hepburn, the evening dresses suggest the ’50s silhouette—cinched waist, full skirt and slim belt. The skirt falls below the knee, as dictated by this year’s trend.
For the formals, he also looks to Old Hollywood—seductive, figure-hugging gowns and yards of sheer fabric. Some are floating, bias-cut chiffon and georgette gowns in silver and lilac. Clearly, the collection targets a young clientele that spends hours in the gym.
The show is an opportunity to show off his strengths— laces manipulated to form geometric patterns, resplendent beadwork, intricate embroidery and Swarovski crystals that make clothes resemble sparklers on New Year’s Eve.
There are golden abstract designs in his gowns that are made from beads, accentuated by Swarovski crystals at the center of each bead.
“I am telling the public that my prices are reasonable, considering that my clothes are labor-intensive. There’s a lot of thought that goes into the execution of each dress. That’s why
they’re special,” he explains. As women have become increasingly slack in their dressing, Santos points out that the perfect party dress is like ammunition.
Santos is also pushing his bridal and formal wear in his shop in Parañaque. It’s all about looking virginal but sexy with this season’s thigh-high slits, sheer and skin-baring bodices, and figure-hugging, unforgiving silhouettes. The universally flattering strapless style is a favorite of young brides, he says.
For embellishment, he utilizes appliquéd flowers and laser-cut petals. Shaped into roses, these flowers turn some of these long dresses into virtual bouquets or gardens.
As in his PFW collection, Santos likes to play with shape and volume. The classic bridal gowns derive inspiration from the 18th-century hoop skirt and corseted waist.
Because Santos believes in having a strong foundation, the formal long dresses have built-in corsetry. The bodices are fitted with whalebone corsets to shape the bride’s waistline, while the skirt is rounded and puffed out with light steel hoop. Santos’ brides eschew the hoop for tons of heavy tulle petticoats underneath bouffant skirts.
For brides who don’t like the shimmer and the froufrou, the tamer options are made from stretched lace that skims the body, and draped goddess gowns. Santos explains that the draped collection, though deceptively simple, is difficult to achieve. It requires manipulating the fabric to produce dramatic folds and flow.
Aside from the classic bridal white, Santos favors nontraditional shades such as blush. The color palette consists of orchid shades—violet, lilac and magenta—the most saleable colors in his ready-to-wear collection.
Santos is one of the designers for SM Department Store, where he produces designs for his label and for SM Ladies’ Wear. Earlier this week, his designs were included in SM Department Store’s show at PFW.
“We are developing a new label for SM called Woman. It will consist of day wear and dressy corporate wear that can take you from day to night,” he reveals. “We are encouraging women to be more stylish. Although the designs are simple, they are not boring.”
The Pat Santos brand will be available in the upscale branches of SM.
“SM has such a big influence on fashion. I want to recreate the same look in this fashion show for less, but the quality is the same,” he says.
The gold lamé and Swarvoski-encrusted cocktail dresses cost P25,000-P35,000 because of the hours spent on embroidery and beadwork. “I can produce similar looks for P5,000,” Santos promises.