Before Babae sa Septic Tank and the numerous awards that came with it, Marlon Rivera dabbled in fashion. "The desire to design has been there since high school. I've [also] been doing styling and prod designs for commercials, so it wasn't new," he tells Preview exclusively, "Then I met Em Barretto and he started doing fashion design na din, and I got to meet Joey Espino, so I was drawn pa closer to fashion design."
He debuted his first collection in 2009, and it was a bold and well-edited ensemble for a Philippine Fashion Week first timer. It also made a lot of people ask, "Who is this Marlon Rivera?"
IMAGE Noel Pabalete
"My first collection was all about my favorite piece of clothing: the tailored jacket and, consquently, the tux."
IMAGE Noel Pabalete
"I was also just getting into my obession with the kimono and anything Japanese. So the tux and the kimono merged into my first collection."
Liz Uy wears Marlon Rivera on her very first cover for Preview.
At that same time Marlon was also an Executive Creative Director for an ad agency, but juggling ad work and his designs didn't seem to be a problem since his Holiday 2011 collection landed a spot on Preview's Top 10 Collections that year. In a review published in our August 2011 issue it read:
Marlon Rivera’s collection connected with those who marched to a more masculine beat. “I always lean towards menswear—suits and coats—when designing for women; that, and an infusion of Oriental,” the designer explains. Taking the Far East fantasy a notch higher were the bondage cues: leather, chaps, wraps, and buckles, all darkly seductive details made to complement the somber, restrained palette of ash and soot. And while the pieces may look complicated, they are in fact, as the designer explains, “reworked basics”—a t-shirt with spliced materials, a cut-away vest, a blazer with a pleated back, a tuxedo with an exaggerated high collar—all when taken apart, were meant to mix and match; definitely not strict coordinates, but contemporary basics that bring in new shapes, a softer approach to tailoring, and a marriage of textural contradictions. The great thing about it all is the beauty and sophistication in its simplicity, and of course, all the possible sartorial combinations imaginable.
When asked if he would ever get back fashion design, "I constantly want to go back to designing, and I still do one-offs once in a while. But since I really want RTW, it's not viable in this market."