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The Pilgrim |


The Pilgrim

MJ Benitez - The Philippine Star
The Pilgrim

MANILA, Philippines — Last weekend, designer Joey Samson presented a 49-piece collection for this year’s Red Charity Gala, entitled “PilgrimAge.” While the designer’s affinity for tailoring and menswear still shone through, the addition of softer silhouettes and embellished fabrics gave the collection an ultra-romantic, even nostalgic, touch. From poufy tri-colored tulle gowns and luxe velvet jumpsuits paired with glittering gloves to golden chainmail dresses and see-through belted trench coats (worn over super-sheer trousers), clever plays on color and texture highlighted Samson’s mastery in design.

And while the clothes were stunning on their own, custom paper constructions made by artist Ryan Villamael added depth to the clothes. With paper and felt as his medium, the artist created intricately latticed pieces that reflected the collection’s vision of pilgrimage. Interestingly, whether placed atop a model’s head or as a towering structure resting on the shoulder, Villamael’s handiwork strengthens rather than outshines.

In this YStyle exclusive, we talk to Ryan Villamael about working with Joey Samson on his first fashion collaboration.

YSTYLE: How did your collaboration with Joey Samson come about?

RYAN VILLAMAEL: Joey and I first started talking almost three years ago, when we were tapped to collaborate on a fashion film together for a publication. Almost instantly, we hit it off because of, I think, a similar approach to work and maybe because we’re both Cavite boys at heart. Unfortunately, funding for the film didn’t push through and the publication had to cancel the project. Through the years though, we stayed in touch and would see each other at events, exhibits and sometimes over dinner or merienda. This is my first fashion project and I’m really glad it’s with Joey, who I’ve always respected and whose work I admire. I don’t think I could’ve done it with anyone else.

What was your inspiration?





My pieces were just support for Joey’s show — this is really his idea, vision and narrative. I’m just glad I got the opportunity to contribute to his vision. I responded to his theme of pilgrimage though — the different journeys we take in life — and how he was inspired by a trip he recently took with his nanay. Joey also saw my exhibit “Behold A City” and mentioned that he responded to the images of Manila in ruins, and how we rebuild from those ruins. I tried to make pieces that somehow reflected that.

With fashion being a different platform for your work, what was the biggest challenge in creating pieces for the show?

The challenge on my end was taking into account how each piece would move with his garments. During the process of making, Joey and I had constant conversations about his ideas and inspirations for the show. He was kind enough to just let me do my process though and I think that made the work and collaboration more organic.

Tell us about your design process.

I approached the project the same way I do my own process of making. I related to Joey’s ideas about the different journeys we take — themes I also explore in my work — so it wasn’t a stretch at all. Nothing was forced. It was a good fit.



Styled by MJ BENITEZ

Makeup and hair by SYLVINA LOPEZ

Modeled by MORGAN of


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