Celebrating women’s month this March alongside their 30th anniversary, SM Megamall presents Wildflower: A Fashion Retrospective on style icon Tessa Rufino Prieto-Valdes. Amidst all the minimalist fashion trending, one woman dares to stand out. Like wildflowers that come in varied species and kinds, the exhibit portrays women from all walks of life. Through each of her dresses, we share a vibrant story worth telling.
Tessa Rufino Prieto-Valdes
Also known as the Sea Princess, Tessa is a Sunday lifestyle columnist in the Philippine Daily Inquirer and manages her own site; http://www.tessaprietovaldes.com. Tessa is a socialite-philanthropist known for her sophisticated style, extravagant accessories, and colorful personality. She has been featured in lifestyle magazines and is ever-present in grand events. She also busies herself with the different charities she supports, spending weekends in Balesin, raiding shopping centers, and playing Barbie with different designers.
Wildflower: An Exhibition of dresses by Manila’s top designers
As we walk through the Sea Princess’ whimsical wardrobe collection, we are introduced to an aspect of Tessa Prieto-Valdes that is essential to her personality — her imaginative fashion. The exhibit likens Tessa as a wildflower, colorful, flamboyant, and diverse. Beauty is a natural thing whether in simplicity or extravagance. And as we trace back to the most organic form of inspiration — nature — through Tessa’s wardrobe, we are introduced to some of Manila’s top designers that Tessa Prieto-Valdes champions.
Albert Andrada returns to the Philippines after 20 years designing luxurious garments for royalty in the Middle East. He was referred to as “Asia’s Most Connected Designer” with works of very flowing, feminine, and definitely dramatic. He takes inspiration from his mother whom he refers to as “a very fashionable lady.”
Ivarluski “Ivar” Aseron is an innovative fashion designer whose collections have been featured abroad, including Malaysia and Indonesia. Ivar is known for his ability to masterfully fuse movement with structure, classic with current, and feminine with a dash of gentleman as seen in his geometric style which includes a surprise of softness that creates slim silhouettes, clean lines, and unexpected details.
Pablo Cabahug specializes in body conscious and tailored formal wear for men and women. His work has been featured in Philippine Fashion Week a couple of times and has been recognized as one of the top collections with his trademark design being classic silhouettes. He won the Look of Style Awards back in 2010 which gave him the opportunity to study fashion design and marketing at the prestigious Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design.
Michael Cinco is an international fashion designer who was born in Samar and is currently based in Dubai. Michael studied at Slim’s Fashion and Arts School in the early 1990’s and proceeded to study in London and Paris halfway through his career. His collections were featured in Miami, New York, Dubai, and Manila and he has been designing for Gulf Arab royals for years. His works boasts of lavishly elaborate couture with detailed embellishments that sparkle with crystal beading, opulent lace, and lush textures. Michael won Breakthrough Designer of 2011 at the WGSN Global Fashion Awards in New York and is the first Filipino designer to be featured on “America’s Next Top Model.”
Maureen Disini is known for her simple cuts and wedding gowns. She was trained in Milan’s Istituto di Moda Burgo in 2009, where she earned a diploma in Stilista di Moda (Fashion Design and Patternmaking). Maureen’s aesthetic is classic, simple, easy and feminine which tend to embrace tradition and forego trends. She customizes her pieces through the fabrics she chooses that are ideal to the personality and character of her clientele.
Rhett Eala has become one of the country’s prominent design icons. He first showcased his talent as an in-house fashion designer in Rustan’s where he was offered to design his first label entitled, “Due by Rhett Eala,” a fashion line for kids. Over the years, his line grew and matured into a more sophisticated line for women and he exemplifies this in his position as the current Art Director of Plains and Prints.
Ronald Enrico is a Cebu-based designer who specializes in custom-made formal wear. He is renowned for his delicate details, fabric manipulation, clean finish, and flattering cuts. Ronald’s workmanship attracts much needed attention through weaving flamboyant and gaudy combinations of tulle, chiffon, and taffeta in his pieces.
Jun Escario started from Cebu and eventually grew to cater international design works where he is renowned for his bridal and evening garments. With gracefulness and elegance in his pieces, his works have reached the London Philippine Fashion Show in 2012.
Rocky Gathercole is well-known for his experimental, unpredictable, and whimsical creations. He came from humble beginnings but with passion and perseverance, paved himself a vibrant fashion career. Gathercole has been a designer in the United Arab Emirates for more than two decades. His definition of wearable is still enigmatic to those that cannot comprehend fashion’s form of self-expression, which to his advantage appealed to Arab women.
Rajo Laurel began his career in 1993 and soon founded House of Laurel in 2000. Trained in New York Fashion Institute of Technology and Central Saint Martin’s in London, he has represented the Philippines locally and internationally throughout the years and has received countless awards for fashion design and entrepreneurship. His works display his signature beading on romantic and luxurious gowns. His articles are a combination of rigid and mellow elements that creates a modern and feminine workmanship which makes his pieces well defined.
Monique Lhuillier is one of America’s foremost designers sought after by many celebrities locally and internationally. She is renowned for her designs that capture the essence of sophisticated luxury by provoking femininity, allure, and glamour. Her ready-to-wear, accessories, and bridal collections embody her innate sense of style.
Francis Libiran is an A-list designer who has garnered success locally and internationally. His work has been featured in numerous shows, some of which include the fashion gala at Manila Hotel during its centennial celebration, the first Canada Philippine Fashion Week, and the annual fashion show in Tokyo, Japan. He is also the designer behind the winning gown worn by Megan Young in Miss World 2013.
Jojie Lloren is a Pateros-based multi-awarded and considered as one of the most respected fashion designer. He graduated with a degree in Clothing Technology in University of the Philippines Diliman and gained training from Ecoles de Chambre Syndicale dela Couture Parisiennce in Paris. After many years in the industry, he continued to gain fame as a resident mentor at a Filipino rendition of a renowned TV-series “Project Runway.” Jojie’s style prioritizes comfort among all other constituents of good dressing.
Dennis Lustico creates works with styles of geometry and femininity. Usually for events and social functions, his garments feature a certain gleam of sophistication yet is still practical and easy to wear especially for women who are always on-the-go.
Pablo Mendez started teaching after graduating from Slims in the 1990s. Since then, he has won many awards including the grand prize for Philippine Fashion Designer Competition in 2007. While he has achieved many awards, he still returned to Slim’s to teach part-time despite his duties as a designer.
Lesley Mobo graduated with an Honors Degree in Fashion at Central St. Martin’s in 2002 after moving out of the Philippines to study Fashion in London. His career started soon after at Jasmine Di Milo, a newly established brand, and was soon after promoted to Head Designer in 2003. Lesley showed passion and persevered in his field garnering him multiple local and international collaborations with numerous brands and features in several books and publications. Lesley’s craft entail edgy, structural elements with sophisticated soft, feminine twists that appeal to young elite Europeans. His pieces are fun and flirty despite residing on the conservative side of ball gowns, asymmetrical dresses, and pant suits.
Josie Natori is an award winning, foreign-fashion CEO and founder of The Natori Company Inc. It houses Natori, a global brand that started out with a lingerie line and later on expanded to a lifestyle brand. Natori received multiple awards some of which include Fashion Group International’s Humanitarian Award, and the Lakandula Award last 2007.
Eric Pineda is a costume and fashion designer credited for his outstanding design works for theater plays, a period soap opera, as well as bridal gowns and fashion ensemble for celebrities. His passion for designing for theatre plays began in college as one of the enthusiastic young members of the University of the Philippines (UP) Repertory in 1982 and was soon after recruited to tackle the production needs of other theatre plays outside UP. Eric had to juggle academics, organization, and production work and still continues to show relentless energy and quality in his works.
Gian Romano is an Iligan-native that started designing and styling back in 2000. A graduate of De La Salle University College of Saint Benilde with a degree in Hotel, Restaurant, and Institution Management, he then pursued his Fashion career after being granted a scholarship to study in Central Saint Martin’s in London in 2004. In 2005, Gian returned to Philippines and revealed his first collection “No Wave” which tackled the foundations of fashion design. His works adhere to a minimalist and utilitarian taste yet brings out the elements of self-expression and consciousness to form and structure.
Joe Salazar studied at Slim’s Fashion and Arts School in the 1960s. He was known for his ornamented ternos and evening wear that avoid minimalist trends. He enjoys doing classic pieces. however continues to add a hint of modern styling to each. Often listed as one of the Philippine’s outstanding designers, he was the first prestigious Ramon Valera awardee, and recently nominated as National Artist.
Amir Sali Aluk is a Paris-trained Filipino designer who ails from Sulu, Philippines. He studied Fine Arts at the University of San Carlos in Cebu City. During his early travels abroad, he met a Saudi princess and was offered to work as a designer for the royal household. After his 18 years as a designer for the Saudi Royal family, he returned to the Philippines last 2009 to start his own design line which started in his small Greenhills shop. His style revolves around heavy layers, seas of colors, and generous beadings which eventually got him the title of Prince of Beads.
Cary Santiago is a Cebu-based master couturier. At a young age of 23, he went to Dubai to work for Hazaar Fashion where he learned all the basics of haute couture. Later on, he moved to Beirut and became the creative designer for the House of Jibran. His work is very intricate – all well crafted and well constructed. He has become a household name in Philippine Fashion with his designs being worn in weddings, state dinners, SONAs, and even the Oscars.
Ezra Santos has been featured internationally in fashion shows, magazines, and events. He put up his own atelier in Dubai in 2008 after working with many designers in the Philippines and Saudi Arabia. His works are seen to use lavish, intricate, and feminine designs and materials.
Inno Sotto received multiple degrees in Fashion and Art in different schools abroad namely the University of San Francisco, San Francisco School of Fashion and Design, and Parsons in New York. With his subtly draped designs, Inno Sotto has done a number of international galas, specifically 27, in his 32-year career.
Philipp Tampus is a Cebu-native designer and proud alumnus of the Filipino rendition of the renowned TV series “Project Runway.” Well-known for his intricate details, random patterns, and artwork that emphasize a woman’s shape, Phillipp is gaining a steady following of loyal clientele, not just in Cebu but all over the country as well.
Oliver Tolentino, coined as the “Valentino of the Philippines”, began his career in the late 90s and was the first Filipino designer to expand his business to Los Angeles in 2009. Since then, he has catered to both local celebrities and Hollywood stars.
Cherry Samuya Veric’s crafts entail intricate details and cuts that bring out the wearer’s seductive silhouettes. He adorns his designs with ornamented pieces finishing with delicate numbers that appeal to varied audiences.
Chito Vijandre is a top lifestyle and design guru. He is the creative director of a chain of lifestyle and design stores which include Chichirico, Felicity, Firma, and AC+632. Aside from being a fashion designer, he is also known for his signature home furnishings.
Yvette Ylagan is a graduate of De La Salle University and Philippine School of Interior Design. She is the other half of the sister duo behind the local clothing brand, Religioso – a brand that champions locally made materials and showcases world class designs, details, and workmanship