We didn’t quite realize what a big deal it was until a fake text started to circulate. While LV is no stranger to counterfeit, it must have been its first case of counterfeit invite
Louis Vuitton has always been synonymous with the art of travel since 1854. Fast forward to over a century and a half later and the brand is still doing just that—traveling, and this time to Cebu for a three-day trunk show, fittingly dubbed “Voyage Cebu” to introduce its Mail Order Service both to new converts and its loyal clientele.
The arrival of big brands had always been hotly anticipated in our once sleepy town, but no brand has been this big, and no invitation has been as coveted as the personalized, hand-calligraphed one from Vuitton. The invitation was for cocktails at the Ocean Pavilion of Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort & Spa to be hosted by Rhea de Vera-Aguirre, general manager of Louis Vuitton Philippines and Micronesia.
The upcoming event had already gotten all of Cebu talking, but we didn’t quite realize just what a big deal it was until a fake text started to circulate, inviting guests to the event. While Louis Vuitton is no stranger to counterfeit, it must have been the brand’s first case of a counterfeit invite. The text got the date right but it got the time, venue, and most worryingly, the dress code wrong, telling guests to come in “evening formal.”
Thankfully, anyone with enough sense could see that the text was too grammatically challenged to be true and no gate crashers ended up in the venue, overdressed in long dresses.
Instead, the A-list crowd that assembled at the Ocean Pavilion just in time for sunset cocktails came dressed in the suggested attire of resort chic.
And if there was one dress code we Cebuanos can effortlessly pull off, that would be it. The colors were bold, the prints playful, and many took the opportunity to dress boldly but comfortably in their favorite kaftans.
Fashion and accessories designer Mia Arcenas, who has found her niche in resort wear, gleefully said, “I was so happy to see a lot of gorgeous ladies in their Mia Arcenas pieces!”
Vuitton’s De Vera-Aguirre said, “In the spirit of discovering new destinations, Louis Vuitton Philippines has chosen to hold its first event outside of Manila in Cebu. Cebu is known for its appreciation of high-quality craftsmanship, making it the perfect venue to showcase our leather goods collection.”
Her statement was spot on as it looked like all of Cebu’s creative types had gathered that evening. There were fashion designers Jun Escario, Oj Hofer, Marichu Tan-Geson, Edwin Ao, Protacio Empaces and Arcy Gayatin, who was wearing an origami-inspired brass necklace by Doro Barandino. The multifaceted artist was instrumental in bringing Vuitton’s vision for their pop-up store to life.
Also there were accessories designers Butch Carungay, Iris Arcenas and bag designer LA-based Joanna Lhuillier, who was in town for her in-laws’ golden wedding anniversary. She came with sister-in-law Yvette Lhuillier-Warnod, who told Louis Vuitton Philippines PR executive Mary Reyes, “We’re neighbors! My apartment in Paris is right across your foundation.” She was, of course, talking about the Louis Vuitton Foundation for Creation, the stunning glass building by Frank Gehry set to open later this year.
No mention of Cebuano design would be complete without Kenneth Cobonpue, and he too was there. So was home accessories designer Marguerite Lhuillier who was supposed to be jet-lagged but didn’t look it, as well as Snug Furniture creative director and newlywed Maybelline Te who marveled, “They’ve really transformed the space! I can’t believe I got married in this exact place not even two weeks ago.”
All eyes that night though were on wunderkind Vito Selma, whose furniture served as the ideal setting for Vuitton’s pieces. “So happy Louis Vuitton is in town and even happier to have my work alongside their collections,” he said.
His delightfully named Philippe Starck shelf housed the Mon Monogram and books display; his Gyza console perfectly complemented the Greenwich collection; and his Mosa-Eco tables showed off our new favorite Lockit bags that came in hues of bright Framboise, soft beige Galet and delicate Magnolia.
There was no shortage of beauty that evening, from the merchandise to the people, even to the food. The luxurious canapés were prepared by Dutch executive chef Mark Mulder, who, for the sake of his budget, warned us not to tell his wife about the event. The music of DJ Emel Row also made for a great party as did the Instagram booth (#LVCebu14) that was flown in from Singapore just for the evening.
It was a good thing the following day was a holiday because it would’ve been impossible for so many of us to get out of bed what with the champagne (Moët & Chandon, of course) that flowed as ceaselessly as the sea that served as the backdrop of that enchanting evening.
Young up-and-comer, accessories designer Neil Felipp San Pedro summed it up, “It was truly a voyage.”