Filipino Designer Ezra Santos at Fashion Forward Season 2

Dubai exhales with the Filipino designer’s art deco offering

By Lalaine Chu-Benitez

Photo By: Zyvervenz for Illustrado Magazine

Special Thanks to: Cristina “Tinayums” Linaza


After being spoiled for choice year after year viewing the luxuriously elegant and sometimes out-of-this-world creations from what the local press calls Dubai’s couture kings – Cinco-One-Santos – one wonders what else is there within the context of the region’s own brand of decadently detailed couture.

Enter Filipino designer Ezra Santos, at the “definitive opening show” at Fashion Forward’s second season’s first day, with a collection replete with clean details, and pure silhouettes, one could almost hear Dubai’s fashion world giving out a much needed long and cleansing elegant exhale.

Entitled Divine Romanticism – Ezra’s new offering inspired by the Art Deco and Art Nouveau movements pays homage to the 1920s golden era where glamour, beauty and art reigned supreme.

The collection had three highlights allowing the designer to delve into a braver more contemporary and fashion forward category, whilst at the same time providing his loyal following the rich, elegant and classic couture staples Ezra’s designs have always been known for.

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First on the runway were pristine ensembles in white with art deco gray prints punctuated with brilliant crystals providing a lift to the elegantly restrained background.  The pieces featured strong architectural details and atypical silhouettes – away from the usual hour glass and body con shapes ubiquitous in the region’s couture.  Part of this sub-collection were dresses in the season’s fave futuristic material – neoprene.  Used in runways across the world for edgy, sporty and avant garde-leaning ensembles, Ezra’s skill was in turning this industrial material into elegant and feminine sculpted gowns, which – for lack of a better term, were very “Ezra.”

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Then came the hour glass dresses with serpentine bottoms that looked like they were made of liquid metal – liquid black, gold and raspberry, pieces that look like they were designed to slink their way into Hollywood red carpets and glamor capitals across the globe.

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Last of the collection highlights were the multi-colored dresses in tulle, crepe, lace with multicolored crystal embroidery echoing art noveau patterns.  Elegant, rich but restrained and very sexy, none embellished for excess.  The kind of pieces one comes to expect from the house of Ezra.

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The show ended with an art deco wedding gown – an incarnation of the quintessential Ezra dress of previous years – this time, instead of featuring strands of pearls, the gown’s focus was on waves upon and waves of meticulously sewn dainty pearls which was a study of beautiful symmetry.

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If there was one thing that could be called a disappointment during the show, it was the fact that we didn’t have enough and couldn’t get enough of the white printed art deco gowns and other contemporary pieces which signify a sort departure from the more obvious couture choices of the region – we definitely were left wanting for more!