“It will be simple,” director Ariel Lozada said, a few minutes before the show—a snarky manner of pulling off a surprise.
If it’s true that first impressions last, Gian Romano’s solo runway debut treaded wisely.
Hinge Inquirer publisher Bea Ledesma provided context before it began: “We’re here to celebrate Inquirer RED, the magazine that redefines luxury. It’s not about cost or expense. Luxury is about pleasure. It is about appreciating talent and quality, without regard for the price tag.”
On set, a dozen cathode ray tube TVs hung from the ceiling, scattered on the floor, playing video shorts (shot by Paolo Abella and Clarence Sison) of models sporting Romano’s pieces.
“The videos on vintage tubes serve as the eye—a looking glass for the cross-culture concept of the collection,” Lozada explained.
The lighting specs and design were all Lozada’s, but he took under his wing London-trained Paulo Paulino, whom he is grooming to be “the best in fashion productions.”
The catwalk, barely apparent, was composed of crossing lines that formed a quadrilateral.
The choreography was almost never consistent, except for one centerpiece that switched up between series, causing photographers to scramble to capture each ensemble.
This, plus the rawness of the installations and overall set design, was tangential to Romano’s theme of diaspora—but exuded an evident nonchalance.
Romano’s collection boasted creative use of silk eyelet, lace tassels, mesh and leather to add depth and dimension to the monotonous colors, though some details seemed almost fetishistic.
The silhouettes were loose, but refreshingly softer and more fluid than his previous stiff architectural works.
The only letdown of the collection was the same series Romano disclosed in a previous interview—his injection of color that stirred excitement but fell short, noticeably the weakest part of the show.
He redeemed himself, however, with a last-minute wildcard that he and Lozada conceptualized only the night before: an unexpected, compelling editorial piece. A model walked down the runway wearing nothing but a long, high-waisted skirt of leather and mesh, perfected with a sentimental lace trail, to which Tessa Prieto-Valdes at the front row applauded enthusiastically over her head, or rather, headdress.
Romano also addressed the phenomenon so often referred to as representative of modern times: androgyny, a blurring of lines.
There was an air of arbitrariness to this reworked Romano aesthetic, revealing the designer’s mature vision and newfound confidence, made heartfelt by an irresistibly peculiar romance.
Ria Prieto, Inquirer RED editor in chief, was all smiles at the finale. “Gian has remained relevant without compromising his vision, and by remaining low-key. As is the vision of the magazine, we believe that there are many more under-the-radar talents to be tapped, because they are not ‘popular,’ which actually is not always the barometer for talent.”
The show was sponsored by SM, Kultura, San Miguel Corporation, PLDT and CATS Motors; with the participation of Figlia, Cibo Di M, Toni & Guy, Bensimon, Sneakers, Bobble Water Bottle, and Russian Standard Vodka; official venue was Samsung Hall of SM Aura.