The Filipino designers represent the Philippines on the international stage.
Paris Fashion Week celebrated a lineup of Filipino notables that frequent the fashion capital twice a year. This season, the A-list roster of showgoers included Bryanboy, Bretman Rock, Mark Bumgarner, Norman Rene De Vera, Kim Jones, and Bella Poarch to name a few. Among the esteemed designers presenting at the last stop on the fashion-month circuit are luminaries Puey Quiñones and Dennis Lustico. Showcasing for FashX at the Pirnia Collections Showroom in The Westin Vendôme alongside Filipino designer Debbie Co, labels DeLustico and PUEY delved into their heritage for a unique take on their Spring/Summer 2023 collections.
Samar-born designer Puey Quiñones is known for his feminine silhouettes that bring a sense of old-world charm. With a focus on draping, embroidery, and hand-beading, the Los Angeles-based designer incorporates Filipino elements like intricate butterfly sleeves in his signature collections, and has also ventured into bridal wear and shoe design. His designs were even recognized by Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) when the museum purchased one of his creations to be part of its heritage collection. His couture dress with pouf sleeves is preserved alongside pieces by Christian Dior, Madame Grès, and Alexander McQueen.
Dedication, the ability to adapt, and resilience are all words that identify with the designer. Embroiled in controversy in the past, the designer considers his struggles a blessing in disguise. The designer moved to the United States and was able to start anew, his challenges informing his vision and shaping the aesthetic of his brand. “In the Philippines, I would just be creating,” the designer tells Vogue Philippines. “It was nice when I was younger because you identify your aesthetic and you get to know your DNA, but when you go to the international arena, [you] need discipline when it comes to your designs.” By recalibrating his brand, Quiñones was also able to experiment and integrate new kinds of technology to refresh his designs.
“Fashion industry is not all about designing and fashion shows. It’s a business that you really have to understand and put a lot of your effort and focus [into],” Quiñones remarks of the “challenging” industry. “I always tell this to my interns and staff that if you’re half-hearted, forget it—fashion is not for you.” Welcomed by the Filipino design community internationally, the designer is proud to be displaying during Paris Fashion Week. He mentions, “I’m very happy that Carmina [of FashX] picked me as one of the designers to represent the Philippines in this exhibition in Paris so I feel honored and happy.”
PUEY’s Spring/Summer 2023 collection is imbued with floor-skimming frocks with billowing sleeves in vibrant colors. Each garment is unique—embellished with dainty ribbons, floral gems, and cascades of ruffles. Quiñones says his Filipino heritage remains a mainstay throughout his creations. “I used Filipino materials like Mother of Pearl [for] embellishments. I also used silhouettes that are inspired by Maria Clara sleeves. I just exaggerated it to be more global,” he shares. What excites Quiñones is the ever-changing nature of fashion, giving him the opportunity to constantly learn. He states, “You have to keep reinventing yourself and your design. That’s going to be the key for you to stay in this industry: keep evolving and changing.”
A prominent name in the industry and a significant influence on Quiñones’ career, Dennis Lustico highlights concise tailoring and an injection of color in his feminine ensembles—elaborate shift dresses with linear cut-out details and fluid silhouettes adorned with beaded details. Emphasizing Filipino craftsmanship as the main component that highlights his collections, Lustico emphasizes the importance of having a distinct identity on the international stage. He tells us, “My objective always when I create a collection for fashion week is to introduce something different and be distinctive. As one of the many featured designers in this showroom [who come] from all corners of the world, you have to introduce something different. This reinforces your identity as a designer, so that is a very vital element in trade shows abroad.”
With lamé metallic gold gowns, optimistic polka-dot prints, balloon sleeves, gravity-defying sheer ruffles, and bead embellishments, Lustico introduces a joyous collection to Paris Fashion Week. His collections mirror the passion and dedication that motivates him to design. He says, “The fire in you has to always be there, so you have to keep it alive.”
To break into the international fashion scene, he emphasizes the importance of discipline, hard work, and “a little more aggressiveness and determination to do it in the global scene.” Lustico further explains the importance of being active and doing whatever you can to make your name heard—imparting his wisdom on the emerging designers who hope to make it on the international stage.