Francis Libiran’s 25th anniversary fashion show is inspired by the dramatic rebirth of the phoenix
There are only a handful of names that come up when discussing globally acclaimed Filipino fashion, and at its forefront is Francis Libiran. For the past 25 years, the designer’s glitzy, one-of-a-kind couture confections have been highly sought after not only by top showbiz stars in the Philippines but by huge names overseas, including Tyra Banks, Angela Bassett and Billy Porter, to name a select few—and for good reason. Francis Libiran’s name has become synonymous with high glamour and pristine polish down to the most minute of details, but more importantly, as a fashion tastemaker that fully leans into the fantasy of it all.
Francis Libiran, after all, doesn’t design for the sensible, no-nonsense woman. Instead, he seeks to dress a woman who wholeheartedly loves fashion and is willing to get lost in the theatrics and drama a sparkling voluminous gown can bring. It’s this flair for drama and fantasy that has kept him at the top of the fashion game for the past 25 years and has made him a go-to around the world for stunning evening wear.
To maintain your status as a top name in fashion for 25 years is no small feat. It takes a lot of grit and gumption to keep longevity in an industry that’s always in search of the next hottest thing. So it was very fitting that for his 25th-anniversary collection, Libiran drew inspiration from the phoenix—the mythical creature known for its fiery, drama-filled rebirth.
As the elegant models sauntered down the stage, Libiran’s love for drama and architectural detailing became fully apparent, with an abundance of sparkle and luster. What strikes us most is how his designs feel like passionate sketches come to life: big swoops of fabric bloom from an otherwise ordinary neckline to frame the face, oversized gigot sleeves ruched and twisted for maximum drama, and meticulously dyed poofs of tulle form a commanding silhouette. Avant-garde, but not quite—marked by the high-glam polish he’s come to be known for.
Bright hues of silver, gold and fiery red marked his runway and reminded you of the phoenix’s feathers, with his trademark beading punctuating every gown. Libiran definitely knows his fashion references: with their huge beehives and theatrical poses, the effect was reminiscent of Richard Avedon shooting 1960s supermodels like Suzy Parker and China Machado in a Diana Vreeland-helmed editorial.
With this collection, Libiran makes it clear that he’s leaving the princess fantasy behind. Instead, this collection seems to be suited for an evil queen in the best way possible, or for a woman with gumption. With strong silhouettes and plenty of dramatic flourishes, his gowns almost remind you of armor in the way they’re imbued with strength and verve.
Libiran’s vision wasn’t just limited to the ladies, too. His menswear was equally as dramatic and glimmering, with an intricately beaded vest and a tunic made out of mirrored paillettes among his standout pieces. But his stunners of course remain to be his ball gowns. From the way they move beautifully to how they bring a commanding aura to the wearer, you can tell that Libiran is a designer who genuinely loves women.
And as the row of models converged and paraded together in the glittering finale, one could see why Libiran stays on top of his game after 25 years in the industry. With his Phoenix collection, he soars high and ensures that Philippine fashion continues to stay world-class.
Words Jer Capacillo
Art Macky Arquilla