They gathered together for the Red Cross’ Charity Gala Show, the society’s upper crust, the glitterati, the moneyed and the famous, who conspicuously and ostentatiously attended “War and Roses”, FURNE ONE’S Haute Couture 2011 at Shangrila Makati. Older ladies with sprayed helmets of hair and cascades of diamonds were dressed to the nines, next to women in their late twenties in five-inch stilettos with Balenciaga clutches and Chanel totes. As one famous celebrity dropped her BlackBerry into her HERMES Birkin bag that lay at her feet, models began marching FURNE ONE’S armour dresses inspired by Queen Elizabeth I.

These are unsettled times for everyone in the business of luxury, but the challenges facing this uncertain world of economic crunch, are as unique as the one million peso hand-beaded ball gown embellished with Swarovski brilliants and semi precious stones, sashaying at the Philippine Fashion Week Holiday Collection 2011 by Dubai- based designer, MICHAEL CINCO.

With money in retreat, its traditional customers aging or dying, and critics increasingly carping about its irrelevance, the couture economy, always delicate, now is more precarious than ever, leaving many to wonder whether there is a customer base left for couture.

Gone are the high-class tastes of the old Manila’s finer set, the blue-blooded ladies who lunched and hosted benefits and social events in couture daywear having been replaced by new-world of pret’- a- porter and China’s excess from Divisoria to Greenhills.

For this very few moneyed class, it’s less about the luxuriousness of wearing exquisite handmade to-order creations and more about conspicuous consumption and making museums out of their closets. But couture is much more than a product. It’s a creative branding, a marketing strategy, it’s an image. Lovers of Couture don’t bring the much coveted piece into publicity and recognition to maintain its allure.

To call couture a business has long seemed unstinting. The art of handmaking and custom-fitting intricate one-of-a-kind garments surely would have died out two decades ago. The diaspora of creative and talanted Filipino designers to the Middle East, particularly Jeddah and Dubai, with international trained craftspeople, made the Pinoy designers more aggressive, more artistic and more knowledgeable to high stitching of elaborate gowns, sometimes loosely translated to Haute Couture. Filipino designers abroad became the “masters” and on the top of a newly created fashion food chain, having a staff of trained embroiderers from India and the subcontinent, pattern-cutters-tailors from Europe and Philippines.



Philippine Fashion Week 2011

The most mesmerizing ambience show ever this year, MICHAEL CINCO continued his impalpable dream. Inspired by the classic ‘Madame Butterfly’, the 45 piece- collection flown in from Dubai, was eight months to finish. His embroidery staff worked day and night to create a dazzling embellishments of crystals and semi -precious stones. Soft and diaphanous, the ensemble of voluminous skirts complimented the vivid color- mix of iridescent Swarovski crystals in pure abundance from bodice to skirt in butterfly patterns. Highly knowlegeable in fine stitching and impeccable finishing, Cinco’s trained staff laboriously moulage every piece,

producing a feminine silhouette of luxury. The “Madame Butterfly Show ” raised the bar of haute in couture and luxury, Michael Cinco’s finest.



Red Cross Charity Gala Show

Shangrila Makati

Known for his grand and elaborate shows, FURNE ONE’s War and Roses was the most fabulous event of the year. Except for the sliding of the models incident, the show deserved high praises, from production to collection, it was Parisian Show in Philipines. The ONE & ONLY FURNE ONE’S aesthetics are innate, a veteran A-lister and award winning designer, his Dubai’s runway shows top the fashion’s most wanted.Furne One created edgy and modern concept of women with strong attitude. His beige, nude silhouettes in well-crafted short dresses and gowns displayed his no nonsense know how in the industry. Furne One is unbeatable in runway….a master, an illusionist and a fabulous artist. War and Roses showed his edge.


Flight of Fancy/Plumage



CARY SANTIAGO is a meticulous artist-designer, his “coutureness” is unbearable. Santiago’s push-to-the-wall love and dedication to HAUTE COUTURE is his personal quest to perfection. Cary Santiago resurfaced the dying if not dead COUTURE industry in the Philippines. Stubbornly arrogant in his convictions, his dream was vindicated and continued doing couture amidst bland and quirky ready made garments. Santiago’s collection at his METRO BRIDE SHOW were coveted pieces that exhibit the finest in stitching , more than art….its art immitating art.



INNO 30-20-10

The Cultural Center of the Philippines


Thirty years in the business has made INNO SOTTO a “PREMIERE CLASSE” amongst the fashion-conscious and the fashion elite. Specialising in exclusive haute couture originals, a Sotto creation spells affluence and class. His sartorial focus is a non-stop quest for producing the finest elegant pieces that conjure a feast for the senses. Bringing to the fore a refreshing insight into his thirty years collection founded with a palatte sated with colours and a balanced blend of symmetric shapes and forms, INNO SOTTO presented a vision that moves from glimmering flesh tones to delicious peaches. Then, his “noir pieces move sinuously into vibrant tones ending their journey in an unparalleled blend of silk chiffons that cascade flawlessly down the runway like harmonious limericks.And while his signature all-out celebration of all that is glamorous takes you on a passage to all that’s chic, he also references his love for the finer things.

INNO SOTTO’S 30-2010 wondrous creations are a testament to his mastery, and a gift to the fashion industry.




The grand finale of the PFW S/S 2011, GAUPO’s neat and precise collection showed the veteran’s mastery in high-end designs and techniques. His fabrics and color combinations  were great achievements, a “soft tailoring”- a chief trend in international fashion, from VALENTINO to MARC JACOBS ..lean tailored look.

Cesar Gaupo’s sophisticated style combined with a hint of  feminine flair, made his collection  outrageously popular. This trend embraces understated, elegant pieces like subtly structured gowns, ruffled blouses and delicate cap-sleeved dresses. All classy cuts, Gaupos fashionable, comfortable and clean-cut urban looks work best , although the tailoring is evident in these garments, it is relaxed and flowing, clearly indicating that it belongs to a GAUPO silhouette.