The minimalist Filipino bride is back | Inquirer Lifestyle

The minimalist Filipino bride is back

Clean lines, sparse embellishment—‘They want to look their best self, and not look like they are wearing a costume’

Jocelyn dress in black silk crepe with notch neckline and silk tulle ruffle train


Is the minimalist Filipino bride back? Is today’s Filipino bride going against the overpowering trend of recent years of huge ball gowns, and instead opting for the sleek modern cut?


Michi Calica-Sotto, a designer of 30 years, thinks so.


“There is the minimalist bride. Yes, believe it or not, this trend is back, where clean lines and just a touch of sparkle, like a waist detail, is all that is needed,” she told Lifestyle after she was introduced last month as bridal specialist of Vera Wang in the Philippines.


Calica-Sotto helps brides-to-be who come to the Vera Wang store at 8 Rockwell, Makati, select their wedding ensemble.


Today’s brides have the luxury of choice and the independence to make that choice, if the clientele of the country’s three-year-old Vera Wang store is to be the gauge.


Faviana V-neck silk mermaid gown with illusion high neck accented by all-over hand-placed Chantilly lace appliqué


Valerie Zayco, head of the Vera Wang store, notes:


“Filipino brides definitely want to make sure their own style shines through during their wedding day. They want to look their best self, and not look like they are wearing a costume.


“Usually when brides finally decide on the dress they want, we often hear them say, ‘This is so me.’ Used to be that there was a lot of pressure on brides to wear whatever their moms’ or mothers-in-law’s chosen designer deems they will look best in.


“But now, with the availability of a beautiful fashion house where they can actually see themselves in the gown before making the final decision, brides are more empowered to decide for themselves and go with what they are happiest and most comfortable in.”


And apparently today’s brides are going for modern, yet timeless, designs.


Jacqueline Reyes Dutilly wearing the Jocelyn


Zayco says, “They want something that will stand the test of time but with an edginess to it, not boring, and definitely that will make them look beautiful, even unforgettable. I think in general, maybe in the last 8-12 years, brides have become more inclined toward timeless, classic silhouettes that tend to be elegant without the need for much beadwork or embellishments.


“Usually now, they prefer to make the overall design, the cut, the flow of the fabric do the talking in terms of drama. For brides who still want the ‘bling factor,’ they usually go for an embellished belt for the extra wow factor and accentuate their waists. One thing’s for sure, the brides who purchase from us are pretty set that they definitely want to walk down the aisle in a Vera Wang.”


Since it opened three years ago, the Vera Wang store has drawn a clientele of celebrities and also low-key private clients from all over the country, who find it convenient to visit the store here instead of the branches abroad. “They can come as many times as needed for their fittings and alterations to ensure the perfect fit.”


Calica-Sotto notes the emergence of the jet-setting Filipino bride: “A good number of today’s brides have destination weddings in venues such as castles in Europe, ranches in Australia, beaches in Mexico and exotic islands around the Philippines and the world. So the Vera Wang style suits this type of jet-setting bride.”


Sarah Uy wearing the Octavia


The way the Filipino bride shops for her wedding trousseau has also changed.


“In this age of Instagram, more and more brides want the certainty of  style, and to see it up close before ordering the piece. Very few want to wait for their wedding gown to unfold in stages over a year’s period,” says Calica-Sotto.


There’s also diversity in taste. Calica-Sotto observes, “Some come in for something simple and elegant, others want a modern romantic look. The princess bride look is still popular—with strapless tops and fitted bodice and the ball gown skirt. There are also those who want the more figure-conscious  semimermaid dresses in vintage Chantilly.”


Zayco recalls how they got to sign on Calica-Sotto: “Michi and I got together one time to discuss the fashion industry and the bridal business. During our chat I realized that although she took a ‘vacation’ from fashion design, her experience in dealing with all kinds of brides and knowing their concerns and desires would be very beneficial to our team.


Sambie Rodriguez Tung in the Esther


“Having been in the bridal business for years, she can share her expertise and mentor our bridal consultants on sales and guide the brides and their families through the process. She has such a passion for fashion that we felt there was a new chapter for her in this industry which not necessarily required her to be in the design and production side.”


Whatever the style preference is of today’s Filipino bride, Calica-Sotto is certain of one thing: “What they have in common though is that the gown must make them look like the most beautiful version of themselves.” —THELMA SAN JUAN


Marit Balagtas wearing the Catherine


Vera Wang’s bridal specialist Michi Calica-Sotto and managing partner Valerie Zayco
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