After a five-year departure from the runway, the designer returns with his first bridal collection.
Neric Beltran’s “FOREVER AFTER” is his carte blanche. He returns after five years away from the runway, and with his first foray into bridal. Known for his intricately hand-embellished pieces made for the stage or a loyal clientele, the designer rarely dabbles outside of bespoke. But only because it takes time to craft his vision.
The collection the designer presented Friday evening at Whitespace Manila for BYS Fashion Week took a year to finish. Beltran told Vogue Philippines, “It was a long, fun journey creating the pieces.”
This finite attention to detail led to creations that displayed a sense of growth, pushing past the limits of his well-known signatures. “My aesthetic has evolved a lot from when I started,” the designer said. “Experience has definitely given me a lot of confidence to explore more and more.”
Underscored by Tears For Fears’ “Head Over Heels,” Beltran sent an elegant entourage down his aisle—all-white ensembles made for a distraction-free demonstration of his range, punctuated by motifs familiar and new. The designer has always been about opulence: gemstones and pearls formed intricate patterns on blousons, hot pants, and netted shift dresses.
But his palette also made room for pieces that held an emphasis on form, like the tulip-shaped evening gown; floral assemblages that enveloped the body in a gauzy crush; trailing supersized bows; and vertical, narrow tube dresses and skirts. They’re a part of this new envisioning of his DNA, “statement-making pieces, in their loudest and quieter forms.” Altogether, the collection held the tone of a celebration, offering a playful reinterpretation of what bridal wear could be. Beltran explained, “I want to show that, nowadays, the bridal garment can and should be worn over and over, not just to sit in the closet after the wedding.”
This intention of longevity was the starting point for his collection, conveying a wardrobe’s need for timeless pieces through his language of high craft. “Most of the embellished garments took months and weeks to work on,” the designer recounted. “They were hand-applied to achieve the texture that I wanted. Also, I made sure to include upcycled materials fashioned into petals for the embroidery.” For his starry-eyed bride, Beltran presents versatile pieces, made to last.
A touch of luck
For his first bridal collection, Beltran abided by a bit of superstition. After he presented his last ensemble (a glittering long-line men’s jacket “instead of the usual bride-as-a-finale-look”), he surprised his guests with a special performance. The members of P-Pop group SB19 lined down the runway, crooning to the slow, bass-heavy beat of their song, “I Want You.”
“They are my ‘something blue,’” the designer said, referring to the saying that begins along the lines of “Something old, something new,” an age-old tradition that would mark a prosperous marriage. Josh, Stell, Pablo, Ken, and Justin were dressed in his light-as-air florals with touches of a soft, sky blue. He mused, “[Their looks] still [echo] the collection’s style and aesthetics, but with the traditional touch of blue.”
The romantic ballad resonated with Beltran’s saccharine sentimentalities for the collection. That must be why he shed a few tears as he took his final bow, looking over the crowd as they offered up their resounding applause. After a five-year departure from the runway and a year of preparation for this show, perhaps the designer saw the same thing a bride and groom do as they exchange their “I do’s”: a fresh chapter, a bright new beginning.