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Making a mark in Dubai |


Making a mark in Dubai

- Alexa Villano -

MANILA, Philippines - Designer Watch: Ezra Santos

When thinking of the Middle East, conservative dressing and Sahara desert come to mind. Filipinos have also made the Middle East their home with fashion designers gaining popularity. One of them is Ezra Santos.

Ezra’s road to fashion began way back in 1986 when he was working for a shop called Arabesque in Makati. Two Arabians, who owned a shop in Jeddah, saw his potential and asked him to join them in 1987.

But what made Ezra determined was the support of his parents, who he considers his first clients. “My parents were my first clients as I designed their clothes. Because of their support and trust, I gained confidence in my ability as a fashion designer,” he says.

In 1992, he returned to Manila but was yet again offered another job in Arushi, a premier fashion house in Dubai owned by Peter and Merielle Loughlin. “I accepted and promptly found my niche in the fashion firmament in the region,” he says.

In 2004, he opened his shop Ezra Fashion House Design in Dubai. On the opportunity to open his own label, he says: “It was a calculated career move, literally and figuratively, and I haven’t looked back since.” With a stiff competition, he decided to learn more by enrolling in the prestigious Central St. Martins School in London.

So how would he describe the fashion of the Middle East? “Fashion in the Middle East is a mixture of their culture and tradition with a touch of the European. They tend to follow Europe as we do in the Philippines; as we adapt to American fashion. They are very fashionable — both men and women. And they like the bling because of their culture. A woman has to shine on her wedding day,” he says.

He looks up to a number of designers, among them French designer Erte, Christian Lacroix, John Galiano and Christian Dior. For famous clients, he says, “My clientele reads like a list of who’s who of international celebrities, from Arab royalty to equally wealthy women of discerning taste and repute. I could not speak more about our valued Arab clients because many of them are from esteemed families with respected positions in the society and as much as possible, they want to be discreet.” He adds that he is open to dressing anybody from famous Hollywood stars to A-listers.

Ezra says that he is very happy about Filipino designers making a mark in the international scene. “I admire them a lot. I believe so much in the talents of the Filipino designers. They are so good because they are well trained with limited means. Back home, you’re supposed to be resourceful and ultra creative to make something amazing out of the simple materials available,” he states. Recently, Ezra had the opportunity to showcase his work during the Philippine Fashion Week and is currently busy preparing for his first US show in New York  this September.

And for aspiring designers, here’s what he has to share: “Fashion is a continuous study and you need to be always updated on what’s happening outside the fashion world. You have to be yourself and create something that will surely be remarkable in the fashion industry. And to top it all, you need to have passion for fashion.”

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