Michael learns to rock (again)

PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez - The Philippine Star
Michael learns to rock (again)
Michael Leyva with Kevin Tsang (right), Managing Director of The Peninsula Manila and Mike Yutuc, Hotel Manager of The Península Manila.
STAR/ File

Under the magnificent Abueva sun of The Peninsula Manila unfolded an enchanted garden where fairy-like brides glided and twirled for Michael Leyva’s grand reveal of his latest couture collection.

The ethereal bridal collection rocked from beginning to end.

“A Michael Leyva bride is a vision of grace, timeless elegance, and effortless beauty,” said the man-of the-hour, Michael Leyva.

From sumptuous laces to intricate hand beading, each element added depth and richness to the collection. Some headdresses looked like a honeycomb of phalaenopsis blooms. Others were simple headbands. Still others were elegant stunning Jewelmer pieces.

But what I loved most were the princess-like ballgowns, though the collection was not lacking in structured, tailored pieces. I think every blushing bride, no matter her age, thinks also of herself as a princess before she becomes someone’s queen.

After party: Jojie Dingcong, the author, Michael, Ching Cruz and Tina Cuevas.
The Enchanted Garden under Abueva’s sun at The Peninsula Manila.

Echoing his reverence for local design, Leyva reinvented the traditional terno with a fusion of classic and contemporary accents. Adorned with pearls and embellishments, the iconic butterfly sleeves emerged as a captivating ode to Filipino heritage.


The beautiful Adriana Zubiri, an ingénue at 16, looked like a young goddess in a fully beaded white, off-shoulder gown with cape. The daughter of Senate President Miguel Zubiri and his wife Audrey, she also had her grandmothers Vicky Zubiri and Dette Tan cheering her on. But she was so poised she enchanted effortlessly.

The Peninsula’s Upper Lobby was transformed into a botanical wonderland, adorned with lush trees and foliage, by the creative genius of Gideon Hermosa, Michael Ruiz and Teddy Manuel. Their artistic vision provided the perfect backdrop for Leyva’s ethereal creations, enhancing the overall enchantment of the show, which was directed by Robby Carmona.

‘King Michael’

Michael’s beloved mother Merly Leyva with Anne Binay.

That princes and princesses walk his runway is part of Michael’s fairy tale. Michael Leyva is actually a “king” in real life. Before there was a Michael Leyva, there was a Rey (“king” in Spanish) Leyva. He was younger brother to fashion designer Brian Leyva, whose dreams were cut short by a heinous crime.

It was in 2012 when “Rey” Leyva abdicated, so to speak, so that Michael could wear his crown. Stylist Bang Pineda learned that Rey’s full name is “Rey Michael Leyva,” and suggested Rey Michael be henceforth known as “Michael Leyva.” And the rest is fashion history.

Michael, a former flight attendant, credits his mother Merly for encouraging both him and his kuya Bryan to be true to themselves.

“Growing up, our mother was instrumental in fostering a creative environment for me and my brother. She encouraged us to explore our interests and talents, providing unwavering support and guidance along the way and I think that helped us being in the creative field,” he said in an interview with this writer, who was so touched that after he took his bow in last Saturday’s show, he rushed down from the stage to where his mother sat and gave the latter a bouquet. The next day, after all, was Mother’s Day.

His Kuya Bryan is still the wind beneath his wings, and he still keeps his brother’s award-winning terno of five-centavo coins in his office.

“We were very close,” he reminisced. “Though I am more bubbly and he was the more serious type. Tahimik siya, ako madaldal.”

Though he worships his brother and dedicates his successes to him, Michael says their styles are not of the same DNA. “He is more avant-garde, I am more dainty feminine.”

And dainty and feminine indeed was his bridal collection. The modern-day “king” of dainty feminine rocked again. *

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