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It’s getting hot — let loose | Philstar.com
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It’s getting hot — let loose

GLOSS THE RECORD - Marbbie Tagabucba - The Philippine Star
Itâs getting hot â let loose
Bench founder and CEO Ben Chan with Joey Samson.
STAR / File

Ben Chan couldn’t have summed it up better: “This season of Bench Fashion Week is about love.”

The bi-annual three-day weekend has always served as an unofficial barometer of who’s hot in Philippine fashion and entertainment, from the most promising up-and-coming talents to established greats stepping up into a new progression.

Closing the season on the third day, Joey Samson’s “Secret Garden” bloomed from within. One bowed cape reveals a shrub of white roses and peonies as a babydoll dress. In another look, it’s a ruffled collar as a bouquet. An ode to the Barocco era, every component shines. Underpinnings are executed with a precision that must be worn outside as statement pieces; he’s not nicknamed the “Garment Surgeon” for nothing.

Kathryn Bernardo

Tailored underskirts need no adornment in all their sheerness, and barong bibs are belted as sleeveless tops. Suit jackets are missing a sleeve. Samson played with silhouettes, accentuating hips not with hip pads but with tailoring, and created a strong stride with arms in mutton sleeves. Bella Baxter of Poor Things, herself captured in various states of undress as a woman coming to be her own person, would’ve loved this collection.

Each look is a state of getting dressed and a snapshot of his process. “For me, a dressing room is a special place,” he says of his personal secret garden, letting ideas bloom when he’s standing in front of the mirror. “Para sa akin, putting on garments, trying on clothes, it’s a ritual. It’s a place where I find myself conversing with my inner self. It’s a place where I cultivate and nourish ideas.”

Michelle Dee

The loosening of silhouettes continues at Bench as loose and wide-leg fits are the pants of the season. “We were looking for a creative handle for Bench to introduce our new fits,” says Suyen Corp. creative director Noel Manapat. “It was a wild mix but we thought that the ’50s was a good visual reference to combine the looks inspired by both the rockabilly aesthetic and Elvis Presley-Hawaii era.”

The Playground was transformed into the Bench Diner, complete with checkered flooring, as Bench’s star-studded lineup grooved to ’50s dance music. Styled by David Milan, David Licauco, Ruru Madrid and Andres Muhlach played the part of Socs in Bench’s varsity jackets while Muhlach’s twin Atasha and rising star Francine Diaz wore summery polo coordinates. Beauty queens Michelle Dee, Celeste Cortesi, and Ara Arida and ageless Ina Raymundo and Sunshine Cruz served “Bench body” in swimwear.

Ruru Madrid

Chan recalls, “Bench was a celebration of love and life, told through a decade we love: the ’50s. The show combined rockabilly, rock and roll, and vintage summer postcard aesthetics. It was a fitting, fun finale for the season.” Towards the end, Chan joined Kathryn Bernardo as the runway became a dance floor, with Bernardo shimmying in her Bench wide-leg trousers and knotted tee.

Suyen Corp.’s “play fashion” brand Urban Revivo calls to mind our favorite Spaghetti Westerns. Waistlines are low, and tops are loose; styled by Ryuji Shiomitsu, he tells a story of city cowboys, mixing urban essentials of bleached denim and open knits with cowboy hats, boots and bandanas. As Beyoncé would say, this ain’t Texas. It’s a Philippine summer, and it sure is hot!

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BEN CHAN

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