The Philippines has consistently generated top-tier talent in the fields of fashion and design. The inventiveness and success of Filipino artists have transcended the confines of the regional scene. All have left their imprint on the Philippine fashion scene by emphasizing strongly Filipino-specific details and motifs. Their clothing and sense of style undoubtedly gives a new meaning to the phrase “Proudly Philippine-Made.” This article will give spotlight to the Filipino celebrities fashion icon.
Some of these icons have thrived in the international fashion scene by incorporating western details with Filipino fashion artistry while some fashion designers opts to manufacture using materials that are locally sourced and is inspired by designs weaved by indigenous tribes and provincial traditions in the Philippines. On the other hand, there are also Filipino celebrities and personalities that have represented the Philippine fashion in the world by simply wearing them.
1. RAJO LAUREL
Rajo Laurel has been one of the country’s top designers for more than 20 years, making him a legendary figure in the Philippine fashion industry. Before starting his work in earnest in the mid-1990s, he received training at Central Saint Martin’s in London and the New York Fashion Institute of Technology. Rajo is a forward-thinking individual who takes great pride in his profession. He is the CEO of Rajo Laurel Enterprise, a new, design-driven business that embraces the ideals of romance, elegance, and luxury. With contrasting harsh and soft features, the style is consistently current and feminine. Despite being Filipino and having strong Asian roots, Rajo strives to keep a global perspective in design.
The craftsmanship and artisanal quality are what set Rajo Laurel’s creations apart. Stunning, reasonable, and reasonably priced. The addition of distinctive features like embroidery, beading, and hand-painted patterns elevates the clothing into extraordinary limited edition items. Rajo Laurel’s works always have fresh, natural, sensual sensitivities that are intended to be admired as works of art.
Since establishing House of Laurel in 2000, he has taken home honors for fashion design and entrepreneurship both domestically and abroad. The Rajo Laurel Group of Companies now consists of House of Laurel, Laurel et Ross Enterprises, a manufacturer of clothing, and Rajo Laurel Enterprises. Laurel, a major powerhouse in both Philippine and Asian fashion, has extended his impact beyond the field of style by championing the LGBTQ+ community and environmental projects. Rajo is a forward-thinking individual who takes great pride in his profession.
2. PATIS TESORO
Donning the traditional baro’t saya when she joined the Patrones de Casa Manila in the 1980s resulted in a personal epiphany for the woman who has become one of the country’s most vocal advocates for cultural protection. Patis Tesoro has since advocated for the revival of the country’s national clothing by spreading awareness about traditional textiles such as pia and local cotton. Similarly, she has used the skills of local artisans in her own work, ensuring that traditional techniques of weaving and embroidery are not lost or reduced to mere footnotes in the history of Philippine fashion. Tesoro famously said, “If we lose what is integral to being Filipino—our dress, food, and homes—then we lose who we are.” These straightforward words sum up the necessity of preserving our culture, tradition, and sense of pride in our national identity.
3. BEA CONSTANTINO & CAROL GO
One glance at the creative team behind Herman & Co. may lead one to believe that the women would fit right in in any of the world’s fashion hubs. That is undoubtedly the case, but Bea Constantino and Carol Go want to introduce the distinctive hues and patterns of traditional Mindanao tribal designs to a wider audience. When Paris Hilton made her first trip to Manila, Constantino famously persuaded her to wear only Filipino designers. Now, together with fellow Mindanao native Go, Constantino is revolutionizing the fashion industry by incorporating traditional designs like the renowned Pis Siyabit of the Tausugs onto contemporary clothing. Named after Constantino’s great-great-grandfather, German sea captain Herman Leopold Schück, Herman & Co is a wonderfully curated heritage clothing concept that assures that transmits the beauty of Southern Mindanao to the rest of the globe.
4. MICH DULCE
Filipino ladies aren’t known for wearing hats over the years, but that hasn’t stopped designer, milliner, and corset maker Mich Dulce from designing stunning chapeaux that have adorned the heads of celebrities like Grammy Award winner Lady Gaga and actress Leighton Meester. Her eccentric, occasionally absurd sense of fashion has won fans abroad, especially among young fashionistas. The modern Filipino woman is strong, feisty, passionate, and unafraid of what the world may throw at her, and this award-winning designer captures it in her work. In her designs, Dulce emphasizes fanciful patterns and vibrant colors, adding a dash of the upbeat positivity that Filipinos are renowned for, even when working with foreign designers.
5. MAK TUMANG
Mak Tumang began as a pure talent, spurred on by the twirling turns of his imagination and his unwavering passion for fashion. As a supporter of contemporary methods, haute couture, and his ongoing quest of opulent elegance, he has established himself as a well-respected figure in the national and worldwide fashion scene. He has revolutionized the sector with his complex needlework, fine lacework, and sophisticated motifs. He has clothed both beauty queens and well-known celebrities over the years. In the Philippine fashion business, he is most known for designing the evening gown of Catriona Gray in the 2018 Miss Universe pageant. The now-iconic lava gown he created for the beauty queen provided her with the necessary tools to stand out among the sea of attractive competitors vying for the title. After that iconice era, Mak continued to thrive in the Philippine fashion scene with his well-thought and intricately done designs. It’s no surprise that Mak’s famous designs continue to break down barriers and garner recognition all across the world.
6. FRANCIS LIBIRAN
Francis, one of the nation’s most prominent fashion designers of this generation, defines fashion as a means of self-expression through the selection of apparel and the addition of handcrafted embellishments to each creation. Everything related to the fashion industry, from production to retailing and marketing to actual design, is essential in his eyes. Francis mentioned that he enjoys working with famous people. Exploring the ups and downs to learn more is part of following one’s passion. Like Francis, everything he encountered in the fashion world led him to a chance that realized his ambition and gave him the assurance he needed to feel good about his masterpieces.
7. MICHAEL CINCO
Michael Cinco, noted for his signature big glasses and black suit, is a celebrated and well-known Filipino fashion designer. He was born in the Philippines’ Samar Province, has lived in the UAE since 1997 and started his own label in 2003. Michael Cinco can recall the exact second he decided he wanted to become a fashion designer. It struck him when he was watching the 1964 musical My Fair Lady, in which Audrey Hepburn dazzled society in regal costumes and attire. Cinco made history in 2016 when he became the first Filipino designer to be invited to Paris Haute Couture Week; in 2017, he was responsible for one of the most unforgettable Cannes Film Festival red carpet moments, dressing Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in a powder blue Cinderella gown.
With his own fashion collection, which he recently debuted at Los Angeles Fashion Week, Cinco is currently impressing the industry. The daughters of presidents and prime ministers, as well as members of the Dubai Royal Family and Austrian pop star Victoria Swarovski, have all worn wedding gowns created by Cinco. Cinco succeeded despite obstacles by finding a method to go through. He claimed that his struggles and tribulations taught him that what really matters is the beauty of the designs, not where the designer came from. Although other young designers from the Philippines and other marginalized communities have benefited from his success, he cautioned everyone to have reasonable expectations of what the cutthroat world of fashion design will entail.
8. PITOY MORENO
Named as the “Fashion Czar of Asia”, Pitoy Moreno is considered one of the Philippines’ Fashion Icons who helped shaped the Philippine Fashion scene in its early days. In his younger days, Pitoy never intended to join the world of fashion and originally wanted to take part in the judiciary however the University of the Philippines Law School’s admissions had ended when he intended to enroll. Instead, he enrolled in the Fine Arts department because it was the only one that was open, planning to stay only for the semester. He did, however, come to enjoy it.
The early 1960s Fashion on Wings event and the Kahirup balls were a high point in his life. The Manila Times sponsored the fashion show, which visited eight towns on its trip, including Cebu, Davao, and Baguio. The Araneta Coliseum, which was just opened, hosted the final of these performances. People applauded as the eight designers took their bows. During the finale, Moreno took the stage with Conchitina Sevilla Bernardo and was greeted by a standing ovation. Then another door started to open. Moreno was invited by the national airline Philippine Airlines to perform three shows in Hong Kong, followed by more PAL-sponsored performances in Hawaii. Then Korean Airlines and Scandinavian Airlines System followed suit and presented similar services in Europe, Paris, Italy, Monaco, Russia, China, and Honolulu. In the end, he performed in 25 different countries. It was evident by that point that Moreno had conquered the international market. He has also been referred to as the “greatest Filipino couturier” by the Honolulu Star Bulletin, “Asia’s high priest of fashion” by Asia Magazine, and “The Fashion Czar of Asia Comes to Paris to be Crowned” by Le Figaro. Fashion editors have dubbed him the “Fashion Czar of Asia.”
Through the ages, Moreno popularized Filipino art, fashion, and attire. His professional life reads like an important passage in the annals of regional dress. He was a pioneer of the Maria Clara movement, influenced by the works of Juan Luna, Damian Domingo, Fabian de la Rosa, and Felix Resurrección Hidalgo, whose paintings he studied at the UP and who would have an impact on his future work. They portrayed women wearing Maria Clara, terno, traje de mestizo, balintawak, and kimono, among other traditional Filipina garments. He made it his goal to establish a name for himself inventing Filipino traditions and costumes. With his elaborate sleeves and beading, he stood out. Going back to the Filipino flashback, Moreno thinks that the Philippine fashion sector is motivated and at a high point.
9. HEART EVANGILISTA
It was none other than Heart Evangelista, who was dressed in a stunning contemporary terno by Cheetah Rivera, a Filipino fashion designer. On the streets of Paris, she was first captured wearing Rivera’s white and blue ombré “Santiago” dress precisely a year before. Over the years, Heart’s image has appeared in a number of prestigious magazines throughout the years, including Elle, Instyle, Bazaar, and Vogue. She is well known to Anna Wintour. In a shot, she is seen alongside Michael Kors. She also gave Christian Loubutin an enthusiastic hug.
Heart’s appearance and stances serve as currency for marketers. She is coveted by designers who want to use her name and influence to promote their company because of her immaculate sense of style and class, stunning appearance, and head-turning swagger. Chanel, Guerlain, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Balmain, Prada, Kenzo, Giambattista Valli—the list of luxury brands is limitless. Along the way, she advocates Filipino labels such as Neric Beltran, Cheetah Rivera, Maison Glarino, and Mark Bumgarner, giving global attention to Philippine fabrics and design. Heart’s talent is in high demand in the fashion industry, and she is only getting started. It’s likely that the next time a fashion photographer’s camera snaps, whether in Milan, Paris, Los Angeles, or Singapore, it’ll be Heart, embodying style, grace, and elegance in a single frame.
10. CATRIONA GRAY
The impact Catriona Gray’s success has had on the Philippine fashion sector makes it even more wonderful. Catriona’s idea was the starting point, and it required months of careful curation. She has undoubtedly raised the bar for what it means to represent the Philippines in the Miss Universe competition. She represented the strong, independent Filipina who gave careful thought to her culture, her roots, and those around her. Throughout her Miss Universe competition, she gave “OOTDs” a whole new meaning. From the emerald green top and high waist slacks she wore for her departure and arrival appearance to the sampaguita-inspired Mak Tumang ensemble she donned for her homecoming procession, she always appeared in stunning works of art by Filipino designers.
Her dedication to showcasing the people and cultures from every region of the Philippines hasn’t wavered since 2018. Catriona has served as the National Commission for Culture and the Arts’ ambassador for three years. Her birthday shot highlighted this historic building and the Filipino designers she wore in it as part of this milestone and the official debut of the new Philippine Metropolitan Theatre. This went hand in hand with her #RaiseYourFlag series with the Department of Trade and Industry as she traveled around various Philippine provinces, shedding light on the creative industries, the products they produce, and the people who make them. Catriona wears unique weaves and textiles throughout her adventure, created by designers and artisans in a nation she is genuinely proud to be from.
Written by Noelyn Kate O. Cabrera