Renz Reyes’ ‘distressed’ approach to terno | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Patchwork collage terno top
Patchwork collage terno top


Young designer Renz Reyes definitely has had a fruitful two years. He was one of the finalists in the TernoCon 2020, the terno design competition last January organized by Bench headed by Ben Chan and the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the Regional Arts Center. In 2018 Reyes also won the Bench Fashion Awards where the winners were given the opportunity to present their collections in Tokyo Fashion Week.

Reyes described how different an experience TernoCon 2020 competition was in an interview with Lifestyle: “I learned to listen more and take criticism. I realized that an outside perspective is also important. We designers tend to overlook certain things. It’s nice to hear a familiar voice. A knowledgeable voice. Their advice has been invaluable.”

The TernoCon finalists were mentored by top designers, and Reyes’ mentor was London-based Lesley Mobo. Like Mobo, Reyes also loves embellishments.


Terno tent dress In brocade with patchwork embroidery

“I feel like he got what I was going for,” Reyes said. “My TernoCon looks are defined by the attention to detail, craftsmanship and my dedication to research and developing techniques.”

Reyes’ works, which Lifestyle shot with top model Hannah Locsin just a few days before she flew to Milan for Fashion Week (she walks for Gucci, Anteprima, among other top brands), were inspired by his theme of “finding beauty in decay.”

“I distressed my fabrics so they withered and aged,” Reyes explained. “I made a collage of different materials and motifs. I put stuff that normally would go together and tried to make them work harmoniously.”


Solid front of terno tent dress in brocade with patchwork embroidery

Reyes wanted his clothes to have character and look like they’ve been aged a bit. “I wasn’t fixated on making it all look pristine and perfect. Striking a balance between opulence and modernity. The embellishments are made to look withered and a bit distressed.”

The design process was a bit of everything. “I try to source as much material as possible. I get inspired by fabric and patterns and what I can do with them.”

The designer described his aesthetic as haphazard, rough around the edges but still with a bit of polish. “I’m into textures and mixing of patterns; a bit bohemian but in a contemporary direction.”

Reyes first sketched the silhouette and did a mock-up of the garment. “What’s good on paper doesn’t necessarily translate well on the actual.”

He stressed that patterning and construction are crucial parts in the design process. But what makes Reyes’ clothes standout is the DIY approach. “I try to treat making clothes as making a piece of art. Always something visual and interesting.” One of his noticeable creations was a terno with a print of Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”


Up close, terno tent dress, inspired by Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” in brocade with patchwork embroidery

His silhouettes showed a balance between being streamlined and voluminous. “The pieces are all tailored and structured. I didn’t want to make it too complicated since the focus is on my embellishments and textile design. “My journey was a bit daunting and overwhelming but fulfilling,” Reyes said. It entailed a lot of time management and sacrifice, juggling the work on the competition pieces with his day job as designer for womenswear brand, Josie Natori.

“It was a yearlong mentorship. I started with a different design which was good but the mentors thought I could do better so I scrapped that one and started fresh,” he added.

“Looking back, I made the right choice. The mentors wanted the very best from us.”


Patchwork collage terno top and pants


Terno jacket with pannier detail and patchwork embroidery


Photography: Miguel Alomajan
Styling: Luis Carlo San Juan
Makeup: Theresa Padin
Hairstyle: Kirt Dinaliso
Model: Hannah Locsin
Shot on location Cultural Center of the Philippines
Special thanks to Margie Moran Floirendo, Jojo Liamzon and Karen Jardenil