This year, the hotly anticipated BYS Fashion Week features the best runways from Vania Romoff, Cheetah Rivera, HA.MU and more
“For the first time in a long time, I felt like myself again,” swooned Carrie Bradshaw in the Sex and the City movie as she watched models dripped out in couture strut by her at a fictionalized Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. And after attending the recently concluded BYS Fashion Week and watching the runway shows from the country’s top designers, we can honestly say, same.
Is it just the heady rush from being greeted by new colors and silhouettes of the season? Or is it proof of fashion’s power to seduce you with the allure of what's new? Whatever it is, we were simply blown away by every single show we attended at BYS Fashion Week. With renowned and visionary local designers like Vania Romoff, Cheetah Rivera, Neric Beltran and HA.MU showing this year, it was a feast for the eyes seeing just how far Filipino design talent can go.
Ahead, check out our favorite designer collections from this year’s BYS Fashion Week.
For his debut collection, designer Raf Villas of the downtown-ready label Rafa Worldwide delivered a sexy, sumptuous and ultimately twisted fantasy straight from the depths of hell. Red was the dominant hue here, and models stomped out wearing sensuous, punk-inspired garments that were contorted, embellished and bedazzled for maximum pleasure. Right away, we know that this is a collection for the new generation of club kids who aren’t afraid to get their freak on. We’re obsessed with the sheer dresses trimmed with distressed denim pieces, as well as that red-hot fringed number Nadine Lustre wore to close out the show.
Followers of stark-chic designers like Martin Margiela, Jil Sander and the Antwerp Six will be pleased to find a young local counterpart following in their footsteps. For her label ANTONINA, designer Nina Amoncio showed a very modern rendition of the urban uniform. Amidst a sea of grays and blacks, she delivered sexy sheer blouses (for both genders, natch) offset by bold tailoring and a very large subversive take on tech wear. For us, the highlight of her collection is the massive coats, which are nipped in the waist, expansive at the shoulder and tailored to perfection.
This season, cult-fave label HA.MU fully leaned into childlike imagination and their storybook fantasy. Every look they sent down the runway felt like a child’s Crayola drawings come to life, and in a feat of technical construction no less. Yes, we see their trademark floral patchwork appliques and their playful takes on proportion and volume—albeit this time, it feels a little more optimistic and filled with wonder. It was an unabashedly quirky collection reminiscent of Rei Kawakubo’s best work, marked by explosions of tulle and a brave determination to take up space.
In the mood for a heavy dose of camp? Look no further than the runways at Randolf Clothing. For this collection, designer RJ Santos proved that he’s a master of harnessing wit and tongue-in-cheek chic. We saw color-blocked suiting that made the models look like cartoon characters, sexy club-ready takes on the brand’s signature barongs, and drag queen NAIA in a voluminous bubble dress designed to look like a trash bag. Our faves include a backpack that converts into a graffiti-printed coat and several white voluminous gowns that look like explosions. This is a collection for the quirky fashionista with the hunger to play around with her wardrobe.
For his first bridal collection, Neric Beltran was all about the highest standards of glamour. Pristine perfection was the order of the day, with no room for any flaws. A bride opened the show in a breathtaking ball gown, with a voluminous skirt composed of multiple pleats that allowed for the most beautiful movement. More sublime pieces appeared: like a men’s coat bejeweled with what seems to be hundreds of pearls, a lovely bridal coat pieced together with several ivory orchid petals, and another stunning ball gown with a massive skirt composed of the dreamiest white roses. This was perfected glam at the highest order—and we expected no less from Neric Beltran.
Designer on-the-rise Chris Nick is making a name for himself by dressing Manila’s It Girls in racy and impeccably tailored clothing. For the holiday season, his vision was black, sharply tailored, sparkly and wrapped up with a bow—literally. Black velvet bows were present on every garment, from sparkly sequined cocktail dresses to sexy skirts with a thigh-high slit (sheer to show off the coordinating velvet thong, of course). Not to be missed are the designer’s signature slogan tees emblazoned with the most suggestive statements. Wouldn’t it be hilarious to gift your office’s Kris Kringle baby a t-shirt with the word “COCKY”?
Local fashionistas already know to turn to Orias Studios for their dose of sharp, well-tailored suiting. This season, designer Vin Orias sought to discover what would make tailoring distinctly and irrevocably Filipino. A far cry from the stuffy and uptight tailoring from London’s Saville Row, Orias defined Filipino tailoring as light, relaxed, and imbued with life and movement. Natural fibers like cotton and linen are manipulated to create beautifully constructed suiting—and every look is topped off with one of Orias’ signature bags, made with sumptuous leather and a fine solihiya weave.
To celebrate her 10th year in the fashion industry, designer Cheetah Rivera presented a gorgeous, exuberant collection that only had one emotion in mind: joy. And the feeling of it was palpable—there were sassy bubble mini-dresses in vibrant florals, bright color-blocked separates, and flowing gowns in eye-searing chartreuse and cobalt. Rivera didn’t shy away from using every color in the rainbow this season and leaned in fully into her most girlish impulses. The result? A chic and lively collection that was fun, flirty, feminine and undeniably fabulous.
What is the essence of a woman? Well, Sushmita Sen can sit down for now, because you have your answer in Vania Romoff’s recent return to the runway. What strikes us most is how womanly each piece feels. These aren’t pieces for a wide-eyed girl looking to impress—it’s for the confident, discerning woman who knows that true chic is found in the languid movement of a silk skirt flowing in the wind, in the soigné scarf detail on an evening gown or in the playful polka dots on an otherwise prim ball gown. Romoff masterfully amplifies the power and elegance inherent in soft femininity, and brings out the beauty hidden in the vulnerability that comes only with womanhood.
From elegantly soigné gowns to tongue-in-cheek streetwear, BYS Fashion Week proves that Filipino fashion can come in the widest variety of tastes.
Words Jer Capacillo
Photos BYS Fashion Week
Art Macky Arquilla