We thought we'd never say "sequins" and "Esme Palaganas" in the same sentence until the designer presented her capsule collection for Philippine Fashion Ball. "This one is a different side of me. I haven't done something like this," Esme remarks as she takes us through her not so usual color palette of gray, baby pink, apple, green, and teal—no denim, black or white here! Then she pulls out her key piece: a fully sequined skirt that flows in striking apple green. Definitely not the Basic Movement we've come to know.
IMAGE Deneb Villanueva
"It's about the meaning of the words restraint and self-control—like as much as you want to control your emotions or what it will always come out. That's the reason behind that green look!" Esme adds. The young designer is always cerebral about her work and is emotionally connected to each collection above anything else. Her obsession with hardworking details however doesn't escape this rebellious capsule. Like that textured striped shift dress, that's actually single strand bias cut chiffon sewn together. "I wanted everything to be soft, like I used a lot of tulle and chiffon. But when you look at the piece from afar it could look like a print or texture. There's this sense like everything is not like what it is. I wanted to use usual fabrics and transform them into something not of their natural state."
And what of those one-sided beaded earrings? Esme gets nostalgic and even mentions the notion of getting into bridal.
"When I was in grade school, I wasn't really in love with fashion per se, it was more of accessories. My ninang gave me this one box of glass beads, and then from there I began to be creative and made bracelets. So this sort of symbolizes me coming back to what I originally loved, which is beading and making accessories. And accessories just not as a side aspect of the whole concept of fashion, but as an integral part of the story. Since my first collection, all my accessories were important to telling the story of my clothes, and at the end of the day it's that." And to complete that story, Esme had her girls sport Amy Winehouse-like cat eyes with a simple side-part. "Rebellious but sweet. It's really like opposites coming together." she tells us, and as long as Esme Palaganas is telling a story through fashion, we're here to listen.
Main image by Deneb Villanueva