The Filipino designer released a staggering 50-plus brand new creations for his fashion show entitled “Hiraya.”
A visibly emotional Michael Leyva bounded down the steps at the National Museum. As he turned to embrace his muses who walked the show, the actor Anne Curtis-Smith, beauty queen Pia Wurtzbach, and television host Vice Ganda, the back of his black dinner jacket showed off the painted profile of his late brother Brian. Leyva often talks about his sibling, whose triumph at a 2004 fashion design competition in Paris serves as inspiration for Michael’s own career. Just moments before, Curtis had walked down the zig-zagging runway in Brian’s winning piece, a 30-kilo pantsuit decorated with the old coins. The actress was supposed to wear a gold sequined dress created by Leyva especially for the show, but at the last minute changed plans. After taking his bow to a packed audience, Leyva beamed upwards.
“Hiraya: Isang Dekada ng Aming Pagmamahal at Pangarap,” saw the National Museum of Natural History packed perhaps to capacity. Representatives from all sides of Philippine fashion were in attendance: insiders, creatives, celebrities, society doyennes, and media and business elite. The soft-spoken and perennially cheerful Leyva is a beloved figure in the industry, and his stature is well-earned. He doesn’t shy from speaking of his humble beginnings that included fitting clients at coffee shops and making just enough from a dress to pay his seamstresses. His story is well documented, even gaining an episode in a long-running television show. After a decade, he’s still going strong, perhaps a testament to the man’s sheer determination and his ability to always deliver “the dress” for his clients and to pay homage to the brother who set him off his path to success.
Leyva is of course known for his sweeping ball gowns and intricate beading, making him a favorite among brides, debutantes, and the length of Philippine entertainment’s A-listers. His 10th-anniversary collection underlined his strength and style as a gamut of gilt-laden creations slunk down the runway: serpentine evening gowns, languid pantsuits, body-hugging lace dresses, and architectural wonders (at one point a male model actually strode down the runway wearing a mock-up of the museum on his chest, plaster painted down his face). Each one cinched the waist and elongated the silhouette. Menswear was also well-represented, with several hand-painted jackets and a dramatic floor-length coat. The show was a fitting statement to Levya’s 10 years in the business, and a vision of what is to come.