Filipino fashion designer Mark Bumgarner gives Vogue Philippines an inside look at his Spring/Summer 2023 showcase at Paris Fashion Week.
Designer Mark Bumgarner has dressed a roster of the biggest names in fashion and entertainment ranging from Heart Evangelista to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. True to his multidisciplinary practice, the Manila-based designer pivoted from being a professional race car driver to becoming a sought-after fashion designer. He first experienced the world of fashion through the eyes of his friends (designers and creatives who are heavily involved in the industry), by helping them backstage or going and eventually discovering his own craft. Bumgarner carved out a space for himself within the scene.
The 31-year-old designer’s covetable collections are a celebration of color with vivid pinks, lush blues, among other rich tones. Luxurious frocks with intricate embroidery, soigné lace, streamlined shapes, changing motifs, and an abundance of ruffles—his whimsical collections are designed to accentuate the female form. Known for his penchant for romantic, floor-sweeping silhouettes, Bumgarner’s artful gowns with cascading layers have made their rounds in the fashion circuit.
On September 30, Bumgarner revealed his Spring/Summer 2023 collection at the Salon Cesar at the Ritz Hotel in Place Vendôme, Paris. This season, the collection is “a return to glamour” and his answer to the “world opening up again.” New shapes, forms, varying textures, and techniques come together to make each garment an illusion made for a “belle du jour.” A showcase imbued with pleated florals, oversized ribbons, painterly ternos, and feather embellishments, the capsule delivered a new sense of energy to Paris Fashion Week—one that is distinctly Filipino and ethereal in its nature. Below, Bumgarner tells Vogue Philippines about his much-anticipated collection.
Could you tell us about your recent PFW collection and the inspiration behind it?
Over the course of the pandemic, we learned (more than ever) to embrace our core aesthetic and married this with the changed buying habits of our clientele. That union is this seasonless collection made up of effortlessly chic to dramatic eveningwear that caters to a wide spectrum of women. We also introduced pieces that can transform from cocktail to evening, and daytime looks in tweed that can easily be classified as classics.
What story are you telling about the individuals that wear your designs?
Women want to feel beautiful and special—and they are the backbone of our brand. We give extra care and attention to each piece that comes out of our atelier to serve this very purpose. Also, most of our clients are Middle Eastern so in our designs, there’s drama and some sense of modesty.
How does Filipino identity and representation on the international stage come into play in your most recent collection?
Filipino creatives in fashion have a global taste level. Our perseverance and attention to detail coupled with the ability [to use] color are innate to us as a people. This has been the growing trademark of Filipino design worldwide. Of course, we also include a terno in every collection. It is really beautiful and has been well-received by buyers each season.
How has your experience of Paris Fashion Week changed since your first show in 2018 and how have you prepared for this season?
We gained a lot of international following and started receiving boutique and individual orders from abroad, so it was an easy decision to make. Having a showroom gives buyers an opportunity to see it up close and to feel and touch the dresses. For buyers, quality is of utmost importance.
Nothing has really changed since the first time we joined back in 2018. Each season is met with the same dedication and perseverance. It is still a long process of preparation: from creating the collection, securing a spot in the showroom, and traveling with boxes of clothing to and from Paris.
You’ve been dressing the Filipino fashion elite making global waves. How do you feel about your muses?
The rise of Filipino influencers and creatives should go hand-in-hand. It should be a mutually beneficial relationship—they each have their own part of the pie to offer but both, when melded, help each one carve out their own place in the world stage. The internet and social media have played a very big role in paving the way for global recognition. It has opened doors, but what allows you to stay are attitude and talent—traits Filipinos are best known for.
Can you tell us about how your collections have evolved overtime? What makes this collection unique?
Our collections have evolved in a way that reflects our main clientele all while staying true to our brand aesthetic and ethos. We have also introduced some directional pieces. Ones that may not necessarily sell, but gives the collection a look and us a chance to push our boundaries and flex our creativity.
Photography by Horia Stan
Styled by Katrina Cruz Villanueva
Creative Direction by Earl Semitara
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