ROMANCE, tulle, and feathers were on the mind during Conrad Manila’s Inspired Beginnings, a wedding fair capped off with a fashion show. Judging by what we saw, big weddings are back.
The first day, June 23, saw a concert with Bituin Escalante, Rachelle Gerodias, Ciara Sotto, Quatro, Debonair District, and Ellipsis. The last day, June 24, had a bridal fashion show featuring the collections of Albert Andrada, Jo Rubio, Joe San Antonio, Jazel Sy, Julianne Syjuco, Mak Tumang, and Veluz.
Veluz kicked off the show with a short dress with medieval sleeves, its skirt appearing under the bodice as multiple layers of tulle. A backdrop of a sunset flashed behind the models. This was the only “modern” dress by Veluz, with the rest of the models donning ballgown skirts, while one model wore a white lace long-sleeved blouse over a cream skirt.
Jazel Sy started them young with two child models, one in a gown scattered with crystals; the other in a similarly gem-encrusted number with sky-blue feathers at the skirt. Crystals were seen throughout Ms. Sy’s collection, decidedly romantic with circle skirts. There was even an option for Muslim brides, showing a woman dressed completely in white, with a large encircling skirt and long-sleeves, and a hijab (under a tiara).
Julianne Syjuco had a decidedly young collection, either for a deb or a daring bride. The models walked to FKA Twigs’ song “Two Weeks” with the more explicit lyrics faded out, because this show also opened with young flower girls. Ms. Syjuco’s dresses showed off shoulders and a little bit of cleavage, and lace and crystals went in for dramatic, shimmering looks. For a bride’s something blue, Ms. Syjuco showed a sky-blue dress with feathers on the skirt — but also a big blue boa. This show ended with a model in a great pink dress, with folds and flounces — and feathers.
Blue was also a prominent color in Joe San Antonio’s collection, with one model wearing a shimmering ice-blue number. The rest of the dresses showed the illusion of slinkiness with sequins scattering the light and bodices clinging to the body, but a traditional strapless dress with a sweetheart neckline ended the show.
Miss Universe designer Mak Tumang wasn’t about to get lost in this parade, showing his models in a fantasy forest. Butterflies and flowers were the theme of his collection, opening the show with a woman in a sunshine-yellow dress with a silk butterfly over her mouth. The designer showed fabric folded into flowers, scattered all over a dress, but of note are dresses with a giant rose forming a headdress, while a bridal veil fell over it. Only a very special bride can pull off this look, and we’ll be very glad to meet her.
Jo Rubio seemed inspired by 1950s wedding looks, with models walking in front of a backdrop of a grand gallery, accompanied by French songs. We saw draped bodices, flounced bustles, and a giant bow at the low neckline with a tantalizing effect.
Albert Andrada closed the show, with the backdrop transforming into a pane of solihiya (woven cane). He showed a modern version of the barong, turning the translucent shirt into a suit jacket. Filipiniana techniques were seen throughout the show for the bride looking for something more traditional and nationalistic. There was a terno with a silver skirt, and a cocoon fanning out to cover a bride like a shell or a fan.
Joanne Gomez, Commercial Director of Conrad Manila told BusinessWorld that during the wedding fair, they offered discounts to couples getting hitched in the hotel from this year until June 2024 amounting to up to P100,000. She also offered her own observations about the wedding scene. “I think right after the pandemic, everyone just wants to have a wedding again.”
Pandemic restrictions from 2020 allowed only about 10 people in a room, so couples made do with livestreaming their weddings. The number gradually increased as the pandemic waned, with weddings of up to 50 persons, until the restrictions were finally lifted and people started getting married to pre-pandemic scales again.
Or maybe even better.
“When the government eased out all the restrictions, it was just amazing. Really big. Much bigger than before the pandemic,” said Ms. Gomez. — Joseph L. Garcia