By Alex Y. Vergara
Followers of Francis Libiran now have the chance to wear the designer’s pieces without wreaking havoc on their budgets.
To mark its 25th anniversary in the business, leading ladies’ ready-to-wear brand Bayo has tapped Libiran to design a capsule collection consisting mostly of neutral and wrinkle-resistant dresses, blouses, pants, and skirts with the designer’s trademark Art Deco prints. Dubbed as FL x Bayo, the collection was rolled out nationwide recently. But unlike most joint efforts between designer and RTW brand, this one isn’t a one-time collaboration.
“We started discussing the project late last year,” said Anna Lagon, creative director of Bayo. “Everything was finalized sometime in January. This is just the start to establish what Francis wants to do with the brand. We will try to build on it as we go by introducing new collections.”
Anna and husband Leo Lagon, CEO of Bayo, took over the brand from its original owners two years ago. But they have been part of it since its early years, initially, as one of its suppliers and later as partners. Their first-born, Louie Lagon, a business management and accountancy student, joined the company recently as director of media relations.
Since they’re very private individuals, the Lagon couple didn’t know Libiran prior to their collaboration. They even had to “stalk” the designer on social media before they found a way to finally meet him personally over dinner, said Leo. The designer, it turned out, welcomed the opportunity.
“It’s an ideal opportunity for me as a designer to learn new things because I have been doing couture for a long time,” he said. “This collaboration provides me with a new platform as a designer to reach more people.”
For starters, Libiran has unveiled mostly black-and-white pieces made of such fabrics as wrinkle-resistant cotton, silk georgette, and breathable neoprene. Libiran used the latter material in a number of showpiece dresses, including a short-sleeved number with black skirt and white bodice printed with vertical and diagonal black patterns.
Libiran also used similar prints on certain pieces, albeit more sparingly. Thanks to his use of contrasting prints, certain shirts, and dresses achieve an instant visual punch. His quirky take extends to a number of black bottoms like a pencil skirt with an uneven hem. There’s also a pair of Capri pants with draped detail around the tummy area to help the wearer “hide those hidden wealth.”
Although most of the dresses have a flapper-like quality to them in keeping with Libiran’s 1920s inspiration, the designer gave them a modern take by adding a bit of shape that skims and flatters most figures. In terms of price points, the Lagon couple made sure that each piece is affordable. Prices range from P1,000 for a versatile sleeveless top to P2,795 for a statement black-and-white dress.
“The material was also an important factor in helping me achieve my vision,” Libiran said. “What’s good about Bayo is they could do whatever prints I want. We are not totally dependent on what’s out there in the market.”
Because the Philippine fabric industry has been all but decimated, most of the materials Bayo uses are imported. But it can manipulate or enhance these fabrics with its exclusive prints. Libiran, for instance, is toying with the idea of using printed palm fronds, including the palaspas, for his next collection for Bayo.
“If a fabric that suits our standard is available here, we purchase it here,” said Anna. “We also want to be true to our heritage, which is Filipino and proud.”
Libiran, who dabbled in RTW when he was just starting, has been so used to doing made-to-order pieces that “I had to lock myself in a hotel room with pen and paper in front on me,” as he worked on the collection late last year. The licensed architect felt that he needed a place “free from couture” to gain a different perspective as a designer.
“But the most important thing for me is to have fun while doing it,” he said. “It was challenging, yes, but it was fun as well.”
The pieces in his initial collection for Bayo are all in black and white except for two—a sleeveless and printed royal blue dress and a white top emblazoned with royal blue linear patterns.
“We chose royal blue because Francis has also been known to design for our beauty queens,” said Anna. “It’s synonymous to who he is. We started and hopefully would build up from there.”
It was a really a good collaboration, Anna attested. “I told Francis in the beginning to think of women ages 25 to 28. Women who are older than that particular age group would be happy to wear his designs as long as they are able to get away with it.”
When the Lagon couple initially sat down with Libiran, they learned that the designer and their brand really “complemented” each other, said Leo. Now that their first baby is out, the trio is raring to produce a series of future capsule collections within the year.
FL x Bayo is available in Bayo stores in Mall of Asia, TriNoma, Glorietta, Megamall, Alabang Town Center, Market! Market!, Robinsons Place Manila, SM North EDSA, Robinsons Galleria, Eastwood Mall, Greenhills, Greenbelt, Shangri-La Plaza Mall, SM Marikina, Robinsons Place Ilocos Norte, Robinsons Place Tacloban, Evia Mall, Ayala Solenad, Robinsons Place Bacolod, and SM Iloilo