In This MEGA Exclusive, Michael Leyva shares how his first Fashion Show in Manila since the start of the pandemic came about.
Last November 13, 2021, Michael Leyva held the first fashion show in Manila since the start of the pandemic, entitled Enchanted. Many designers are still hesitant about holding a live event, but Michael took the extra mile to make it happen while following all safety protocols. He showcased a 30-piece collection with special runway appearances by beauty queens and celebrities.
In the show, we saw both Francine Diaz and Andrea Brillantes of the hit TV show, Huwag Kang Mangamba, work the runway in stunning debutante gowns of red and lavender. Joining them were the top 4 queens of the current Miss Universe Philippines pageant, namely: Steffi Aberasturi, Maureen Wroblewitz, Victoria Velasquez Vincent, and Miss Universe Philippines Beatrice Luigi Gomez. Read our exclusive interview with the designer before the show began.
MEGA: First off, we would like to congratulate you for your successful show in Arab Fashion Week. Can you tell us more about that experience?
Michael Leyva: “Well actually, the Arab Fashion Week– it was my good friend and mentor, Michael Cinco, who told me about it. Sabi niya, ‘Gusto mo mag show dito sa Dubai?’ Sabi ko, ‘Oo, sige! Go!’ He told me he’ll send my contact details to the producer and organizers. The people from Arab Fashion Week contacted me, they asked for my portfolio, the collection, and I got in.”
Arab Fashion Week was the first fashion show Michael got in to since quarantine started due to the pandemic. The pandemic hit designers and the events industry hard during the pandemic. From doing 3-5 shows a month, everything was put on hold for 2 years because of IATF restrictions. Leaving Michael and many creatives in the events industry waiting for the perfect moment to come back.
MEGA: How does it feel like going back to the runway?
Michael Leyva: “Nakakaiyak. Nostalgic yung feeling. There was a point in time during the start of the pandemic that we all thought it was the end of everything. If we all wait, nothing will happen.”
“The first time I saw the runway, I thought, “Nakaka-miss yung feeling na yun. So ayan na, after more than a year it will happen again. I’ll be on the runway again and I’ll showcase my collection. Sobrang nostalgic yung feeling. Parang rebirth ba ‘eto? Parang fashion is back.”
And in some way, it was his rebirth. Arab Fashion Week was the fuel to push for the first ever fashion show in Manila since the pandemic. The success of the show gave him the confidence to mount his on runway in Manila. With the help of Kutchie Zaldarriaga of Getting Married PH, Hilton Manila, Director Robby Carmona, and a handful of event stylists, he was able to make it happen.
“Straight from Dubai tapos ayan na. Manila na diba. Mas napressure lang ako. I used to think na since nalagpasan ko na yung Arab Fashion Week okay na lahat. Pero ngayon, I’m starting to feel the pressure to showcase another good collection. Syempre, it’s the first, so kailangan pasabog. Gusto ko talaga it’s something new sa Pilipinas from the staging, music, lights, gowns, and all,” says Michael.
MEGA: How is Enchanted different from any runway show you’ve had before?
Michael Leyva: “Aside from it’s a solo show, it’s a bridal collection. I’m very picky with the runway. It’s not the typical runway that you see. I told Direk Robby, ‘Direk! Gusto ko bigyan sila ng show time. Gusto ko na parang nanonood sila ng concert or a theatre play.’ Everyone was very excited that it (fashion shows) will happen again. Ayoko naman mag disappoint.”
“Whenever I do a show, I always want to show versatility. I don’t want to focus on just beaded gowns or lahat embroidery. I always want to cater to different types of people. Especially, it’s brides. Gusto ko kapag may isang tao na nanonood makakarelate siya doon sa show. Parang, that’s very me. Ako yan. I would wear something like that. I’m doing a 30-piece collection.”
During last night’s runway show, Michael Leyva delivered everything he said and more. There was a variety of gowns in different silhouettes, material, and styles. Anyone watching would definitely find something that would fit their personality. Despite being a bridal show, Michael did not let himself be confined by the usual bridal requirements. He had creations that played with past and present trends done in a way that is true to his brand’s DNA.
After a successful show in Arab Fashion Week and in the Philippines, Michael does not plan to stop there. Currently, Michael has offers to do shows in Paris Fashion Week, New York, and Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. His next big step really is to go international with his designs. When asked about the success of Arab Fashion Week, the designer teased about possible plans of opening his own store in Dubai.
“It was really very successful. As in, super happy ako on the turn out of the show. And then, they wanted me to put up a shop in Dubai. Sabi nila, ‘Michael, Dubai is for you. When will you put up a store in Dubai?’ Sabi ko, ‘Small steps. Baby steps,’” says Michael.
Andrea Brillantes photo by Dookie Ducay