Joey Samson and Lesley Mobo showcase their modern interpretations of the terno through their new runway collection at TernoCon in SM Aura
Distinguished by its statement butterfly sleeves, honed shoulder arches, and fabrics that call back toward our history with Spain, the terno has established itself as a defining characteristic of Filipino culture. For more than a century, the national dress has witnessed the rise and fall of different eras throughout Philippine history, yet it still continues to grace the floors of galas, balls, and runways as the dress of choice.
Throughout the past year, Bench’s TernoCon was held in celebration of the garment’s rich heritage. Marking their third event for the year, “Paskong TernoCon” served as the grand finale in their series of celebrations.
Held in SM Aura, the space of the mall was transformed into a runway, with a red carpet that led toward a 33-foot Christmas tree that illuminated the main hall. The sounds of violins, brass, and strings resonated throughout the foyer, with guests walking the red carpet to the sound of an orchestra in the background. At the height of the event, models walked the runway to showcase fashion designers Joey Samson and Lesley Mobo’s contemporary reimagining of the classic terno.
For Samson’s third collection with TernoCon, he had sought to infuse his minimalistic approach to tailoring in combination with the dramatization of the terno’s detailing. The collection took inspiration from Jose Rizal’s work and writings, featuring a variety of Barong Tagalog and terno dresses in structured, almost-architectural forms. Each meticulously thought-of detail added to the depth of Samson’s various looks— with flattened accordion pleats that resembled the pages of books, intricately laced embroidery, and piña fabric paired with kimono and obi sashes.
Mobo’s design language contrasts against the stringent black and white garments seen throughout Samson’s work. The designer has always had a penchant toward maximalist visuals, with “tropical terno” being a recurring motif. This has led toward a collection of pieces that are inspired by the more Latin-influenced side of our Spanish history. Clad in dresses that playfully drape against each model, the looseness of the clothing captures a vibrant tone that is highlighted by loud polka dots and florals. In commemorating the terno and its history with pageantry, Mobo had adorned each dress with sashes and headdresses crowned in a bouquet of flowers, completing each look.