Going gold

Going gold

Francis Libiran mark’s 25th year eschewing silver

TRADITIONALLY, 25th anniversaries were celebrated with silver gifts. For designer Francis Libiran’s he seems to look forward to another 25 years, building up to a golden anniversary.

Hardly a trace of silver was seen during his anniversary runway show on Nov. 24 at the City of Dreams. Mr. Libiran showed off a collection inspired by the phoenix, the legendary bird that dies in a burst of flames, only to be resurrected anew in the ashes. Flashes of red, gold, and orange, all resembling the purifying flames of the phoenix, were used profusely throughout the show.

The show opened with two gold dresses, with one having sleeves and shoulders that seemed to bounce away from the body, while another dress had a trailing sleeve, resembling wings. The motif of wings was seen many times: in a gold embroidered jacket, and in another red dress. There were dresses with necklines with tendrils extending from the collar and framing the face, truly resembling fire. The rest of the dresses were remarkably dramatic: think black dresses draped with capes, and another with shoulders formed by crumpled layers of cloth that made one think of an explosion. Models walked and moved slowly, deliberately; as if ballerinas frozen in motion. A red finale dress showed was strewn with crystals, with trailing sleeves dyed to look like flames (the stage’s stark lighting only added to the effect).

This was decidedly different from most of the things Mr. Libiran has done before. His work has been seen on America’s Next Top Model, worn by then-host Tyra Banks herself. Other global celebrities he has designed for include Darren Criss, Angela Bassett, Nikki Reed, Mena Massoud, and Billy Porter — he’s already quite a favorite with local celebrities such as Anne Curtis. He has designed for various productions and television shows, and even sporting events: designing the parade uniforms of Team Philippines for three seasons of the Southeast Asian games. With all these, his work displays an elegant structured form that he can credit to his background in architecture. For this show however, he lets loose and lets drama and emotion reign.

“I want to showcase a different type of Francis Libiran this time. I really played with textures, layers,” he told BusinessWorld in a backstage interview. As for where his architectural background comes into play, he said, “Structure. If you saw how it was constructed, it has that architectural touch to it.”

The show was a treat for the other senses. Some of the chosen music for the runway included covers of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” and “Damn Your Eyes.” Asked about his song choices, Mr. Libiran said, “May meaning iyon eh (it has a meaning).” Prodded further, he laughed and said, “Secret.”

As for the sense of smell, Mr. Libiran is venturing into perfumery, with scents like Gardenia Mango, Spice Oud, and Neroli Clavel, created by Renato Lopena, Jr. A part of the proceeds from the perfume sales will go to CBN Asia and Operation Blessing Foundation Philippines.

The perfumes also mark new beginnings in new ventures: the scents will be sold online and in his stores. Furthermore, he’s planning to jump into furniture design and ready-to-wear. “Ang dami pa (there’s still a lot more),” he said. “Since I’m an architect by profession, anything related to design.”

In the optimism of years past, people once celebrated their 25th birthdays and called them “quarter of a century parties,” everyone hoping to hit 100 someday. Mr. Libiran looks back on his own 25 years: “Being in the business for 25 years is something very meaningful for me. It has its ups and downs.” — Joseph L. Garcia