For Michael Leyva brides, ‘a strong demand for Filipiniana’ | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

For Michael Leyva brides, ‘a strong demand for Filipiniana’
Michael Leyva: Filipina brides are “ready to splurge and make a statement.” —contributed photos

Defying expectations, designer Michael Leyva brought Parisian ambiance and dramatic silhouettes to his recent fashion show at “Weddings at The Peninsula,” the hotel’s annual bridal fair. Voluminous ball gowns, over-the-top beadwork and exaggerated shapes dominated the runway, a clear statement for the nontraditional bride seeking a show-stopping look.

“I initially thought brides might prefer simpler styles after the pandemic,” Leyva admitted. “But they’re ready to splurge and make a statement. They’re all about the details.”

Luxurious materials such as imported laces, duchesse satin, Mikado silk, horsehair and feathers brought the bridal gowns to life, while grooms exuded elegance in brocade blazers and piña barong embroidered in Taal, Batangas.

Leyva’s 40-piece collection showcased his versatility, encompassing couture techniques, fabric manipulation, tailoring, intricate embroidery and beadwork. From classic lace to edgy, architectural gowns, minimalist gowns and the ever-popular princess ball gown, the collection catered to diverse bridal tastes.Tailored terno

“Swarovski crystals have been popular,” Leyva noted, “and there is a strong demand for Filipiniana.”

A terno, embellished with pearls and tassels, offered dazzle and a heritage twist for brides seeking cultural expression. Leyva’s terno suit presented a unique blend of masculine and feminine.

The collection also featured sleek columns with drapery for brides desiring a touch of understated elegance.

Michael Leyva: Filipina brides are “ready to splurge and make a statement.” —contributed photos

Drawing inspiration from a visit to Paris’ Tuileries Garden (pronounced twee-luh-ree), Leyva named his collection “Enchanted Garden” and transformed the Upper Lobby of The Peninsula Manila into a floral landscape. White and pastel blooms, nestled among hedges, created a runway that evoked a garden stroll for the models.

“Gardens are a constant source of inspiration for my designs,” said Leyva. This influence was evident in the floral embroideries adorning the bridal gowns and the patterns on the grooms’ suits. Some gowns featured laser-cut petals individually hand-stitched into delicate three-dimensional flowers.

Career shift

He cited the sculptural gowns that were the results of individually stitching underwired fabrics that curled to resemble wisps of smoke. These types of gowns empowered brides who defied convention.Leyva’s name has become synonymous with drop-dead glamour in the fashion scene, a journey that began 12 years ago. His path to design, however, was unintentional. The story of his late brother, Brian, a rising fashion star whose life was tragically cut short by violence, is well-known.

Leyva, then a flight attendant, witnessed Brian’s dedication firsthand. After Brian’s demise, the loyal seamstresses continued working on unfinished projects, but the business needed leadership. With no background in fashion, Leyva stepped in. This experience motivated him to take a three-month course at London’s prestigious Central Saint Martins.

Leyva vividly recalled his transformation in London. Departing from his unstudious past, he embraced the library, going on a digital detox, immersing himself in fashion history and culling inspiration for his collections.

“You get what you put in,” he said, emphasizing the seriousness of the program.

Today, Leyva leads a team of over 100 at his Antipolo factory, producing uniforms and custom garments. Fittings and meetings take place at his atelier in Peninsula Manila. He boasts an impressive client list, including daughters of politicians and celebrities.

Notably, he designed influencer Heart Evangelista’s gown worn after her renewal of vows with Sen. Francis Escudero last February in Balesin. It was a Swarovski-encrusted tulle outfit with a plunging neckline and a dramatic train.

Today, Michael Leyva observes a growing desire for individuality. His latest collections cater to this trend, transforming unique bridal visions into reality. —contributed INQ

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