The Top Spring/Summer 2024 Trends From Bench Fashion Week
Runway

Bench Fashion Week 2024 Held Styling Predictions for the New Season

Runway looks from the latest collection from Nicolò. Photo by Kim Santos

From the runway presentations at Bench Fashion Week, designers Jo Ann Bitagcol, Gabbie Sarenas, Joey Samson, Rhett Eala, and Nicolo Perez present samplings of new trends to shape up the spring/summer season. 

The fall/winter 2024 season that took place across New York, London, Paris, and Milan culminated with Nicolas Ghesquière’s spectacle show for Louis Vuitton, shown to an audience of upwards of 4,000 under the bright beam of tall, modular lighting structures. But fashion month itself still persists elsewhere on the sphere; in Manila, Ben Chan and Noel Manapat staged shows for the upcoming season. Now in its seventh year, Bench Fashion Week is a biannual event that brings industry vets, stylists, influencers, photographers, and friends together to view the latest offerings from local and international fashion brands and luminary Filipino designers. 

For spring/summer, Chan and Manapat’s personal selection of designers comprised Joey Samson, Gabbie Sarenas, and runway debutants Nicolo Perez and Carla Zhang. Each of them had their own self-defining vision and approach to tailoring and construction, but there was a slew of promising trends that emerged from within the collections.

Paper dolls

Le Ngok’s Carla Zhang explored themes of anxiety as she made her runway debut. Find fabric formed, twisted, and, in this instance, pieced together to form an ultra-cropped cap-sleeved cape. Photo by Kim Santos
Designer Nicolo Perez mainly does menswear, but presented a vision for women’s tailoring: organic shapes and cutouts that are equal parts statement-making and functional, as the year approaches hotter weather. Photo by Kim Santos

At the shows, fabric created clear, sharp lines on the body. Clean patternmaking gave way to flat fashions, as seen in various iterations of vests, tunics, and capes, and deconstructed tailoring. 

Jo Ann Bitagcol’s eponymous label had an abaca cap-sleeved tunic done up with ties. Carla Zhang’s Le Ngok took a similar approach to cap sleeves—this time via a cropped cape pieced together by raw fabric printed with medical scans and X-rays. 

At Nicolò and Joey Samson, perennial wardrobe staples graduate to statement pieces; designer Nicolo Perez reworks the classic pinstriped button-down with breezy ventilation and trailing ends, while Joey Samson envisions the classic pantsuit anew—blazers constructed on the body at clean asymmetrical slants. 

Laced and layered

The embroidered floral aprons at Gabbie Sarenas were done up with ties. Photo by Kim Santos
Imagine new modes of layering this season, with dresses over skirts and skirts over pants, as seen in the latest collection by Jo Ann Bitagcol. Photo by Kim Santos

Gabbie Sarenas was inspired by her bridal clientele as she worked on her collection. Instead of wedding and reception dresses that serve a sole purpose, she presents her vision for a modular wardrobe: airy, cream-colored dresses descended down the runway before they would show a second time, layered with her signature embroidered aprons, fashioned at the waist, hips, or over the shoulders with ties.

Jo Ann Bitagcol’s collection also presented new layering codes for the new season: there were graphic-printed silk dresses held up with long strings of silk, styled atop romantic lace slips—and in one instance over pants—and a generous offering of sheer—kimonos, jackets, skirts—that revealed even more layers underneath. 

Nicolò showed a white tunic in slivers, with its focal point on the ties holding it together in one piece. At Joey Samson, tailored jackets were cinched at the back with laces. Find ties, bows, and folds peeking out of pristinely tailored layers throughout the rest of his collection, too, from the back of long coat slits to fastening ribbons on voluminous dresses. 

Gilded age

At Kashieca by Rhett Eala, there were brocades and meticulous sequin appliquè that mimicked the look of floral jacquard. Photo by Kim Santos
Jo Ann Bitagcol used brocades on sheer skirts to frame lace slips. Photo by Kim Santos

Brocade lent a luxury feel throughout multiple shows at Bench Fashion Week, but each iteration was different in desired effect. At Kashieca, designer Rhett Eala applied gilt with a heavier hand, weaving the floral patterns on flounced drop-waist skirts. It also appeared in Jo Ann Bitagcol’s collections, in a sheer skirt gathered to a slit that revealed a golden lace mini slip. 

The gold was subtler in Joey Samson’s collection, woven over white pants, an elaborate sweatshirt-short set that looked far from sport-appropriate—richly detailed, and affixed with buttons from the shoulder through the arm—and a grand kimono that grazed over the floor. 

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