Albert Andrada to highlight piña, jusi at Paris Haute Couture Week | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Andrada sketches at his desk. Partially seen on the left is the national costume gown he designed for Wurtzbach inspired by Manila's carnival queens.
Andrada sketches at his desk. Partially seen on the left is the national costume gown he designed for Wurtzbach inspired by Manila's carnival queens
Andrada sketches at his desk. Partially seen on the left is the national costume gown he designed for Wurtzbach inspired by Manila’s carnival queens

Filipino talent will be on display in France next month when Albert Andrada presents 35 of his designs at the Paris Haute Couture Week fall/winter 2023 shows.

The designer might have gained widespread recognition for designing the gowns worn by Pia Wurtzbach when she brought home the crown at the Miss Universe 2015 pageant, but he has been designing for decades now.

The sleek, royal blue gown Wurtzbach wore can now be rightly called iconic, but Andrada also designed her national costume, a terno inspired by those worn by Manila’s carnival queens in the early 1900s. Embellished with pearls, capiz shells and crystals, the dress was paired with a matching hand fan and a headdress, and was a sight to behold.

The designer honed his talent and eye for opulence in the Middle East, where he worked for two decades.

“For the first 10 years there I worked at an atelier with an Emirati business partner designing for various clients,” he told Lifestyle. “In 2002, I won Designer of the Year at Swarovski’s Bridal Designer’s Competition Award in Dubai, which led me on a new chapter of my life in the Middle East.”

Designer for royal family

Albert Andrada and his outsize “calling card”: the royal blue gown Pia Wurtzbach wore when she was crowned Miss Universe 2015.
Albert Andrada and his outsize “calling card”: the royal blue gown Pia Wurtzbach wore when she was crowned Miss Universe 2015

He was appointed designer of the ruling family in Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates where he stayed for 10 years, designing gowns and party frocks for the family.

“I traveled a lot and was given access to a wealth of fabrics and a wide range of materials, but as the years passed, I began to feel like I had less freedom to explore. I wasn’t growing as a designer and was beginning to feel boxed in.”

When the opportunity to return to the Philippines presented itself, Andrada took it. “I wanted to try my hand at designing for Filipino women.”He noticed almost immediately how different Emirati women are from Filipinas when it came to dressing up.

“They’re really extremes. Emiratis spend a lot on their dresses because they attend many events like weddings, birthdays and balls. They want to show off and stand out whenever they go out.

“Many of my Filipino clients, however, prefer to be low-key, refusing to upstage the bride at a wedding or the guest of honor at a party. They often tell me, ‘Albert, not too much’ or ‘I’m just a guest/sister/friend.’ Still, when they come to me, they know what to expect: elegance with a touch of opulence.”

Designing for a pageant, however, is another story, he pointed out. In a way, it’s similar to designing showstoppers like those he made for his Arab clients.

A replica of the blue gown he made for Wurtzbach continues to occupy pride of place in the window of his boutique at Greenbelt 5. It draws pageant fans who have a chance to look at it up close and pose in front of or beside it.

“I haven’t removed it from the display window because it’s become some sort of landmark.” He could also describe it as his oversized calling card.

Andrada has gone on to design for other notable projects since the Miss Universe pageant, including the barong Tagalog worn by the male world leaders at the 2017 Asean Summit held in the Philippines, as well as a few of the gowns worn by some of the leaders’ spouses. Even Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau remarked on how comfortable his barong was and requested a meeting with Andrada where the two had their photo taken.

Fashion collab

For Paris Haute Couture Week, Andrada was tapped by Baroqco, a Netherlands-based jewelry maker known for crafting the crowns for Miss Universe Netherlands, Germany and Singapore. “Baroqco was the key for me to be part of Paris Fashion Week (PFW). To be an official part of PFW, you have to showcase your collection for five consecutive years,” Andrada said. “Baroqco is on their fifth year already so they contacted me and said, ‘Albert, we’ll pull you in’ because they wanted to showcase Filipino designs. The models will be wearing my clothes with accessories by the jewelry brand.”


Andrada’s fabric manipulation includes shirred tiers
Andrada’s fabric manipulation includes shirred tiers


He described his designs as made using piña, jusi and other woven materials, but which will have a more “international” appeal. The Filipino connection will be in the fabrics used, but the highlights will be the construction, structure and silhouette, he said.The event will also be a reunion of sorts, as his compatriots—fellow Filipino designers who made their name in the Middle East—will be flying to Paris for the shows scheduled on Jan. 25 and 26. Michael Cinco, Ezra Santos and a few other designers will be attending, he said.“We’re very supportive of each other. Of course, when we were all based in Dubai, there was some friendly competition but then again, we had our own clients, and I worked for the royal family. Now, we can all just laugh about it.”

With less than a month to go before PFW, Andrada is still fine-tuning the collection. “Until the last minute, that’s what I’ll be doing,” he said.

He and his team, including a few Pinoy models, will fly to Paris in mid-January to scout for additional models. “I was told that there will be a lot of runway models to choose from so we’re aiming to be there by then.”

When all the hullabaloo has died down and he’s back in the Philippines, Andrada will return to designing for his Filipino clientele that, he said, has grown exponentially compared to before the pandemic.

“My business has grown threefold, which I attribute to how more people are going out and dressing up again,” he said.

PFW, also known as Semaine de la mode de Paris, is held semi-annually in the French capital as a regular designer presentation featuring designs for spring/summer and autumn/winter. Dates are determined by the French Fashion Federation. It is part of the global “Big 4” fashion events that include London, Milan and New York.

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