Mark Bumgarner pulls out all the stops with a collection that takes couture to a whole new level.
The path was dark. But soon multiples bright lights engulfed the track. Mark Bumgarner is on the driver’s seat setting his sights on the finish line. A few seconds passed and Mark’s focus was soon joined with classical music playing in the background. 3. 2. 1. Go! Visions blurred as the speeding racetrack becomes a runway where Sarah Lahbati, clad in a fully beaded sheer Grecian gown soon sauntered in a slow, steady gait with models wearing only the dreamiest frocks created by Mark Bumgarner himself.
A few years back, this would not be an unacceptable speed for Mark Bumgarner whose first love has always been professional formula car racing. At a very young age he has always found joy in the tracks looking glamorous and untouched from his periphery. The world of dressing then found its way into the life of Mark even if it was just initially in his subconscious. Soon enough, Mark realized his passion for beautiful garments. But it was not a particularly easy road to tread. “I am mostly self-taught. It was challenging to convince people that I wanted to design clothes, having come from the world of sports. It was a struggle for a few years,” he shares. But it was sheer determination and hard work that made him realize how much he loved this new world. “When I became aware that fashion design is the same as any other job, even more difficult sometimes, and yet still be completely in love with it, it was the same time I realized I was meant to design,” he says with a smile.
Mark Bumgarner has built a name for himself in the Philippine fashion industry, creating womanly pieces worn not only by celebrities, but also the fashion elite. For him, it is enough to make the woman who wears his creations feel beautiful and confident. “I want my clothes to be the extension and expression of beauty of the woman wearing it. I also want it to be timeless,” he says. But more than anything else, what matters to him most as a designer is the ability of his enterprise to provide jobs to his fellow Filipinos. “I love my team. I owe everything to my small team of artisans. They are my family.” This sense of gratitude and love for the people behind the Mark Bumgarner name has gained him an unstoppable and loyal team that has created only the most glamorous pieces in his atelier. Together they created his latest collection, a mix of fantasy with the plethora of nature-inspired embroideries, sinuous shapes and silhouettes that highlight the woman’s form, as well as a showcase of ladylike details in different striking shades.
It was not just Manila that appreciated the global appeal of his collection as Mark received an Instagram from Moda Operandi’s social media manager a few months back. “She messaged [asking] if I would be interested to send my line sheet to the buyers. Luckily, we had just finished my collection then and were working on the line sheet at the time to send to my other stockists abroad. After a few introductory emails, a lot of Skype meetings and weeks of preparation, we were ready to launch the trunk show,” reveals Mark. He admitted that he was apprehensive at first, worrying what the international fashion world would think of his collection. Two weeks passed, the normal timeline for all trunkshows in only luxury store, and then Modi Operandi extended it to almost a month because of the very good feedback from its customers. Add to that, Aishwarya Rai, Bollywood megastar, wore one of his ballgowns to the Cannes Film Festival. Mark and his team were (and still are) on cloud nine.
The models soon walked off the runway, the music mellowed down as Heart Evangelista popped on the screen talking about Mark not only as a fashion designer but also as an amazing friend. “Presenting Emerging Global Designer, Mark Bumgarner!” The music settles and the ballroom turns back into the racetrack. Mark is still on the same path but in the car with him is his whole team. It was not a race anymore. No more finish line. He just wants to keep moving forward.