By Lalaine Chu-Benitez

Photos From the Illustrado Fashion Editorial – Amor Vincit Omnia; Haute Couture – Ezra Santos; Creative Director – Michael Cinco; Photography – Jef Anog; Hair & Make-Up – Valentino Montuerto Jasmin; Models – (Luna of MMG Models), Karo and Nikola of The AgenC

 

If Michael Cinco is all about grandiose beauty, Furne One the master of dark drama, and Rocky Gathercole continues to play shock and awe, Ezra Santos’ domain is firmly placed on the altar of refined elegance.

Ezra Santos - Photography by Jef Anog for Illustrado Magazine
Ezra Santos – Photography by Jef Anog for Illustrado Magazine

It has been a decade since we started Ezra-spotting – watching and imbibing this Filipino designer’s divine definition of fashion.  From the time he unveiled the startling Ezra dress – with string upon strings of pearls draped as a bodice, to his first gala held for the Middle East glitterati, his debut in New York at the Couture Fashion Week, and through his various shows at Dubai Fashion Forward, and Philippine Fashion Week.

If Michael Cinco is all about grandiose beauty, Furne One the master of dark drama, and Rocky Gathercole continues to play shock and awe, Ezra Santos’ domain is firmly placed on the altar of refined elegance.

From the Illustrado Fashion Editorial - Amor Vincit Omnia Haute Couture – Ezra Santos; Creative Director - Michael Cinco; Photography - Jef Anog; Hair & Make-Up - Valentino Montuerto Jasmin; Models - Luna of MMG Models), Karo and Nikola of The AgenC Ezra Santos: Filipino Designer

Ezra Santos: Filipino Designer

His signature style nestled on a foundation of clean elegant lines, consistently pushes boundaries with a fresh point-of-view, and is blessed with just the right touch of dainty, as well as mindful and measured use of embellishments and detailing.  Nothing more that will make the piece look the least bit ostentatious, yet nothing less to make it another generic and safe fashion rehash. 

Flawless. Disciplined. Beautiful.  

That definitive aesthetic is no more pronounced than in his collection this year. Stamped with Filipiniana inspiration featuring contemporary interpretations of the Maria Clara dress of another era – Ezra’s current style assemblage showcases incarnations of the baro with its voluminous sleeves, as well as the ultra feminine paňuelo.  Curve hugging serpentina dresses with a new version of the butterfly sleeve emulate the terno.  The collection was an astounding exercise in merging both traditional and contemporary fabrics, as well as old and new techniques that typically won’t find themselves side-by-side on the same runway.  Abaca, piňa, and tulle, including space age neoprene, in a barely there palette of blush, soft pinks, and peach with an unexpected smattering of deep fuschia, provided the canvass to hand painting, 3D laser-cutting, as well as laborious beadwork. 

Ezra Santos: Filipino Fashion Designer

Ezra Santos: Filipino Designer

Filipino Designer

All in all, elements were deftly combined to make up a collection that is on one hand, fresh and current, but on the other, rooted in timeless elegance.

Interestingly enough, this the second time Ezra has brought Filipino style to the international runway.  The first instance was when he unveiled his Imeldific revolutionalized terno at his Dubai gala in 2010.  What is pleasantly surprising though, is that even in this second display, his inventive streak has been successful yet again, at churning out something that is new, albeit built on the old.  Quite an edge, compared to other Filipiniana-oriented designers who somehow seem shackled to the dictates of tradition. 

Filipino Fashion Designer

Ezra Santos: Filipino Designer

Perhaps, even more admirable, is that fact that the inspiration for his collection is deeper and goes beyond the mere creation of another fashion moment, a new trend, and opportunity for more business for his atelier.

Ezra Santos: Filipino Designer

Asked why he keeps on campaigning for Filipino style, a risk averse to commercial considerations, Ezra Santos shares, “I feel it is my duty to promote our country through fashion. If we won’t do it, who else will?

Click here to check out our previous articles on Ezra Santos

 

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