Scars of beauty
MJ Benitez (The Philippine Star) - October 28, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Allow yourself to evolve,” fashion designer Seph Bagasao muses, when asked to offer his advice to aspiring designers. And judging by the trajectory of his own career growth, evolve he certainly has. Fresh from Amazon Fashion Week Tokyo, where his homegrown label BAGASÁO made its fashion show debut alongside collections of fellow Filipino designers Carl Jan Cruz and Karen Topacio, the young designer’s offerings for spring/summer 2017 showcased his vibrant and deliberately unpolished take on two of his signature materials—denim and knit. Cases in point: double-breasted denim coats are given boxy silhouettes, slouchy knit sweaters with extra-long sleeves are cut and frayed to bare the shoulders, zip-front light denim midi skirts are flared with the addition of dark denim insets, and pinstripe shirtdresses are given the excess factor with fringed and beaded sleeves. A selection of textured leather handbags and dyed leather mules complete the looks.

In this YStyle exclusive, we sit down with Bagasao to talk about his newest collection and get first dibs on his eponymous label’s s/s lookbook.

YSTYLE: What’s the story behind your s/s 2017 collection?

SEPH BAGASAO: The collection is entitled “Scars of Beauty.” It’s about a boy running to get out of the dark forest searching for light, trying to escape a past of sadness, misery. He seeks to answer the uncertainties of yesterday. A strong boy, he doesn’t mind getting cut and scarred by the thorns, stones and branches because he knows that in the end, these scars will make the clear sky feel that much more beautiful.

This season, duality is expressed through the selection of various fabrics and textures. The colors, inspired by the wooden objects made by designer Collin Garity, reflects a somber mood that blends seamlessly with the imagery of Mick Jagger and shape, and the lines of a sea of trees.

How has your inspirations influenced your design aesthetic?

My inspiration allowed me to navigate and distill my emotions to create the whole collection. Each component was significantly influenced by how I felt at the moment. Each piece creates a dialogue between something that was left behind and the hopes of tomorrow.


You just came from your first fashion show, and at Amazon Fashion Week Tokyo too. How did that come about? What was your experience like?

When I first started to have a vision and dreamed about becoming a designer, I knew I wanted to build a brand that can be experienced globally but I never imagined that I will be doing my first show in Tokyo and at the very prestigious Amazon Fashion Week Tokyo. It was very surreal! I realized that it really did happen when I was already back in Manila, silently lying down in my bed.  The whole experience was exceptional. The Japanese people are the best people to work with. They are very professional and very humble. We have worked with the biggest people not only in Japan but the whole world and they are all very respectful and humble. They treat everyone equally. Akiko Shinoda is of BOF’s 500 but she took the time to bring us to different manufacturers and suppliers.

Nine designers were selected by Tetta Ortiz- Matera (she’s the one responsible for the whole project). She then presented our portfolios to the PR company rocket and JFW organization headed by Akiko Shinoda. After of few months of waiting we got the news that it was me, CJ and Karen that were selected to represent the Philippines together with our sponsor Bench and to undergo a 10-day business training that enabled us to get a firsthand experience on the insides of the Japanese fashion industry. .

What is the philosophy behind BAGASÁO?

BAGASÁO is a luxury ready-to-wear brand of unique, contemporary, gender-fluid clothing and leather accessories that resonates a refined contrast between nostalgia and modernity. The brand incorporates a balance of sophistication, playfulness, and functionality in its designs, making sure that every piece is a product of outstanding craftsmanship. While the color story is usually muted and earth-toned, textures of the select fabrics add a tasteful twist to the collection. Design value takes precedence over seasonality.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned so far in your fashion career?

Personally, I have learned to just keep competing with myself and not with people around me. Believe in yourself but never let all your achievements get to your head. Sure, there will be times when things seem to be very unclear but keep your faith up because it can bring you anywhere. Oh, and don’t ever compromise your vision.

Photos by GERIC CRUZ | Styled by MJ BENITEZ | Hair and makeup by HANNA PECHON of Shu Uemura |

Modeled by MARITA GANSE |Shot on location at the Halili-Cruz School of Ballet

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