It should've been the closing show of Philippine Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2012. The visions, the dreams, the mastery of execution and presentation, the sheer bravura of it all—Slim's at 50 would've made for a fantastic finale to the season. But regardless of when it showed, it was a spectacle that showcased the best work of the ten participating Slim's Fashion and Arts School alumni and students, honoring the legacy of the late Salvacion Lim-Higgins on the 50th anniversary of the institution she founded. Slim's at 50 was a show, we daresay, that Slims would've been extremely proud of.
They were pieces we saw—gaped, at, really, and fawned over—exactly a year ago, when he closed Philippine Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2011 with a 37-piece show. The same play with volume and dimension and sumptuous draping that he wowed us with after a long fashion design hiatus was once again on display in the Slim's at 50 segment, with a new set of bondage-y footwear, natch.
We know him as one-half of the fab duo behind luxe boutiques Firma and AC+632, but long before he became a purveyor of chic homeware and fashionable accessories, he was a student at Slim's. Presenting a theatric and highly stylized 6-look collection full of decadent, imperial drama, Chito Vijandre showed just how impeccably adept he is at fashion design after all these years. With a showing of his flamboyant but always tasteful, and elaborate but never absurd style, he gave his audience (and co-PFW-participants) a lesson in spectacle and majesticity done just right—that is, with class, élan, and studied drama.
For the second time, Erika Adona showed her 5-piece The World of Barbarella, but this time to a bigger audience than the one it debuted to in the PEFTA fashion show. In Slim's at 50, Erika's Barbarellas sported more futuristic styling than the seventies one of her inspiration, hinting at the fierce future this young lady has, being a Preview emerging talent and all.
Ezra Santos treated his audience to a darkly spectacular collection of Swan Lake-esque motifs. His black-garbed villainesses swanned about the catwalk first, followed by veiled, snowy angels dressed in filmy minidresses with sculpted shoulders. There is something so deliciously wicked about his work, which we first caught a glimpse of at his Metrowear Filipiniana showing. This delectably dark, almost nefarious, aesthetic truly sets him apart from the customary rose-hued romance of his Middle East-based contemporaries.
Following Ezra was James Reyes, whose similar inky aesthetic captivated the audience through his all-black 6-ensemble collection. Showcasing select pieces from his Fashion Watch Holiday 2011 lineup and several new evening dresses, James toyed with texture and structure for his Slim's at 50 presentation. Additionally, he expanded on his origami accessory repertoire with the extravagant cartolina headpieces that punctuated each bold onyx look.
Filipino fashion design legend Joe Salazar passed away in 2004 after a long battle with throat cancer, and the industry that he has gifted with such beautiful creations, including the stately ternos that became his trademark, continues to miss his exquisite taste and creativity. The Slim's at 50 audience was witness to a display of his archival pieces that are simply redolent of modernity and elegance, which made of us willing recipients of the simple lesson that true grace in design is forever precious, covetable, and timeless.
Joey Samson is no slave to trend, to mass-driven desires that will make of anyone a panderer to fleeting tastes and inclinations. With every showing that he has, he never fails to put forth a clear manifesto of his sharp, meticulous aesthetic that always parries with convention. Be it through a delicate patchwork dress that should, at first sight, sing with unbridled femininity, or a lace-topped metallic tulle ball skirt attached to the waist with naughty straps, his designs always flirt with normy expectations, turning them on their heads with a kickstart lust for something different.
Aside from PEFTA designers Erika and Riza, Martin is the youngest among the Slim's alumni invited to show for this PFW segment. The intrepid Martin made good use of the opportunity to exhibit his ultra-glam Spring/Summer 2012 collection of leathers, glitz, and chiffon, doling out once again an array of lust-worthy evening wear for his party-fixture goddesses.
Michael Cinco got a great deal of mileage during his visit to his homeland, what with a gala for Red Cross, a solo show for PFW, and this last showing for Slim's at 50. Not that we mind, of course, because his splendid creations are always a sight to behold. We just can't help but wish that—were it not too taxing and prohibitive for the designer—he had brought home from Dubai a bigger assortment of pieces from which to parse out his three exhibits. That way, we'd have a bigger grasp of his imagination. Don't blame us, but from ultra-talented designers like Michael, we can't help but be a little greedy.
Last and definitely, definitely not the least, PEFTA young talent Riza Bulawan closed the Slim's at 50 segment with another showing of her Daughters of Poseidon collection. Falling right in step with the masterful construction and liberal creativity that distinguishes her elder Slim's co-designers, Riza proved just why she was chosen by the Preview editors as one of the ten most promising designers of 2011.