Francis Libiran’s sole inspiration for Havaianas
FiFTY SHADES OF RED - Arian Yupangco (The Philippine Star) - November 19, 2014 - 12:00am

It’s hard to deny that we Filipinos, with our love for good food, family get-togethers and the occasional karaoke session with friends or co-workers, are a unique and lively bunch. Plus, we’ve got a heck of a culture that’s just as warm, festive and colorful as we are. All that is exactly what served as inspiration for internationally renowned architect-turned-fashion designer Francis Libiran as he collaborated with footwear brand Havaianas to create a collection that reflects Filipino culture in all the right ways.

“Designing flip-flops was a very different experience for me,” said Francis during the intimate press luncheon at The Peninsula Manila last week, “but I just wanted to make sure it (the collection) was ‘Filipino,’” Francis said.

Francis, who wanted to incorporate his signature Art Deco look and feel into the designs, also faced the challenge of creating pieces that were true reflections of Filipino life and culture, without appearing too old-fashioned. As a creative force to be reckoned with who has both impressed and dressed the likes of celebrities from Nicole Kidman and Tyra Banks to Anne Curtis and Megan Young, this challenge was soon overcome and Francis produced three limited-edition designs for the flip-flop empire.

 “We wanted something festive and Filipino. For this collection, each pair of Havaianas serves as a canvas for Francis’ artistic expression and aesthetics,” said Anne Arcenas-Gonzalez, president of Terry S.A., the exclusive and sole distributor of Havaianas in the country since 2003,

When asked why Francis, who is also the first Filipino designer to work with the global brand, was the figure they set their sights upon, Anne says, “It was a matter of finding the right designer at the right time. What drew us to Francis was his architecture background. We thought it was very interesting and was a richer story to tell. With the coming holiday season, we also needed an aesthetic that was very festive and almost extravagant, and with Francis, there’s no lack of extravagance.”

Working with a designer who is a firm believer in the Havaianas brand was another factor on the list, and a believer he is as Francis happily admits he’s been a big fan of the brand since the beginning. “I personally have to have my Havaianas every summer,” he enthused. “I actually buy a new pair every time.”

With the collection a year in the making, Francis opened up about the process of designing on an entirely new canvas, specifically a rubber canvas. “It was completely different because you’re talking about flip-flops here. What can you do with flip-flops to make it really interesting? I did a lot of research on Havaianas and their past collaborations with other designers and for me it was all about making a statement. So my creative team and I asked ourselves what were iconic symbols we could put on these flip-flops that were very Filipino, but at the same time would help to make a statement.”

The result of this artistic brainstorming is three eye-catching designs: “City,” “Festival” and “Island.” The aptly titled “City” features a true Philippine icon, the jeepney, with all its intricate details amid bold yellow, red and orange shades that Francis dubs as “very urban.”

“Festival,” with its elegant gold straps and purple hues, invoked a vision of a woman for Francis, one that frequents our country’s beautiful beaches and one who desires to make a statement with her beach appropriate footwear.

“Island,” on the other hand, symbolizes the vast, multi-cultural heritage of the Philippines with its festive colors and the Philippine Sarimanok on display. Each pair will be available in specially designed packaging too that will make them ideal gifts for just about anyone.

The Francis Libiran for Havaianas collection will be available starting Dec. 1 at all authorized Havaianas retailers nationwide until February 2015.

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Follow me on Instagram (@arianyupangco) and Twitter (@ArianYupangco), and check out my beauty blog “Ari’s In Wonderland” at

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