Following an eventful 2021, Francis Libiran reminisces on how the year went by with some of his notable creations and designs.
I can’t believe that we’re about to end another year again. It seemed like it was just yesterday when I celebrated my 20th year in the fashion industry—right before the pandemic started. Following that, a lot of plans were put on halt for a while.
But for 2021, despite the pandemic, things have truly become eventful. Thus, I told myself that I won’t let anything get in the way of my creativity. I constantly pushed myself by surpassing limits, and I am proud of what I have accomplished for 2021.
2021 is also one of my most productive years because I have worked with a lot of my friends from both fashion and showbiz. I’ve also met loveable clients, whose stories inspired me to create dresses and suits for their milestones.
Year after year, I make sure that I make myself, my family, and those who believe in me proud. And I am happy that I have met and exceeded expectations this year. On that note, I thank God for giving me the wisdom and strength to bear the fruits of creativity as I reminisce how my 2021 went:
Simply Francis Libiran
Simply Francis Libiran, a collection that was launched in 2020, made a comeback in 2021 due to the high demand for simple and affordable wedding gowns. This collection is made up of wedding dresses and gowns that display understated and timeless elegance.
The BINI Collection
I designed an exclusive three-part collection for ABS-CBN’s powerful girl group, BINI. It was such a joy to be working with these young, beautiful, and talented young women! I designed three themes for them namely: Breaking Records, Champions, and Crown of Victory.
Breaking Records shows the sporty side of BINI through athleisure pieces or sportswear. It embodies the youth’s trendy style through comfortable everyday wear: hoodies, jumpsuits, and tracksuits. Plus, it even has a psychedelic theme, which registers well when posted on social media. Really trendy!
On the other hand, the Champions collection showcases huge ball gowns to embody the formal and stylish side of BINI. It’s intended to be attention-grabbing, especially when attending parties. These layered ball gowns, however, are lightweight, making movement easy for the wearer.
And finally, the Crown of Victory collection meshes tradition with innovation. It even modernizes our traditional Filipiniana dress! These dresses come in gold and highlight the Philippine terno’s butterfly sleeves, likewise showing the elegant and empowered side of BINI as modern Filipinas.
Aside from that, I also created one more collection: Androgyny. This collection means dressing up without being mindful of one’s gender. May it be a masculine or a feminine style, the girls would still look beautiful and feel liberated by donning any style they please. There is power in that.
Carson Kressley for Rupaul’s Drag Race All Stars 6
Carson Kressley has become a good friend of mine, ever since I designed clothes for him for the Miss Universe pageant. Since he is part of this popular show series Rupaul’s Drag Race All Stars 6, I was really so happy to see him wearing something I designed.
I created a glittering, bespoke blue bomber jacket, which was custom-made for him! It truly brought out his fabulous personality and style!
I designed a red multi-layered Philippine Terno, which was accentuated with embroidered Swarovski crystals and combined with my trademark art deco patterns. The bodice is made with silk organdy, while the dress is made of pleated tulles, making it lightweight and overall elegant.
Apl de Ap’s Specially-designed Ensemble
I was really happy that Apl de Ap of Black Eyed Peas wore our limited edition The Flag barongto the Pacquiao-Ugas fight. This piece first appeared as the official parade uniform for Team Philippines on the 30th SEA Games in 2019. Moreover, the specially-designed barong showcases the Philippine flag—with the sun embroidered on the shoulders, and the blue and red hues on the collar.
Apl surprised me yet again when he wore another ensemble from my 8 by Francis Libiran brand! He wore a short-sleeved hoodie and pouch from me when he performed with the group at the Black Eyed Peas: Where is the Love stream held in Giza, Egypt. What an honor!
Michelle Dee’s Regal Emerald Green Gown
This is by far one of my most favorite creations of the year! We dressed Miss World Philippines 2019 Michelle Dee in an emerald green gown—embellished with shiny crystals and beads when she graced the stage for her final walk in this year’s Miss World Philippines pageant.
Michelle was already a queen, but she definitely embodied regal beauty when she graced the stage.
Kylie Versoza’s Lovely Pink Gown
Miss International 2016 Kylie Versoza became one of the board of judges in Binibining Pilipinas 2021! And for that momentous occasion, she tapped us to do her dress for the event. Thus, I designed her a custom-embroidered evening gown in pink, which exhibited my signature geometric beadwork throughout the dress. She truly became gracefully beautiful in this particular piece.
Dennis Trillo’s Bespoke Ensemble
One of my creations even made it to the Venice Film Festival! Highly acclaimed Filipino actor Dennis Trillo was dashing and debonair when he wore a Francis Libiran Bespoke ensembleshowcasing art deco cutouts. He exuded timeless elegance with the suit. He sported this outfit during the red carpet event of the 78th Venice International Film Festival.
I also exclusively designed for him a Barong Tagalog featuring fine embroidery using my trademark elements, which Dennis wore to the film festival’s awards ceremonies.
Rabiya Matteo’s Dignified White Gown
This year, Miss Universe Philippines 2020 Rabiya Matteo graced the Miss Universe Philippines stage with a customized gown from me for her final walk. When we sat down with her, we both agreed that a distinctive and dignified gown would look stunning on her, and we weren’t wrong.
She donned a dainty white gown encrusted with crystal beads. While we initially thought that bold colors would look good on her, we realized that white was the perfect fit for her personality, since she acts with so much wisdom and grace.
Darren Criss’ Trifecta of Designer Pieces
Darren Criss and I have been long time friends! Since meeting at the 76th Golden Globes held at Beverly Hilton in Hollywood in 2019, we’ve been in touch for future projects.
Sure enough, we saw a chance when he launched his first Christmas album last October 8. His album, A Very Darren Crissmas, shows him clad in a wine and gray silk brocade suit—complete with a velvet lapel. For this piece, I made sure that the textures and patterns are very rich and that the color play is unique.
I designed more bespoke suits for Darren for his album tour: a brocade suit that he wore during his performance at the Grammy Museum; a two-toned red brocade suit during his guesting at The Kelly Clarkson Show, where he sang Christmas tunes with Adam Lambert; a two-toned satin suit during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade; and a champagne gold bespoke suit while serenading the crowd at The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration 2021!
Darren is truly amazing. He is the ideal Francis Libiran gentleman: masculine, confident, and unafraid to experiment with different styles!
Marian Rivera’s Pretty in Pink Evening Gown
Who would forget one of the world’s sexiest and most beautiful women in the world? I was ecstatic when Marian Rivera’s camp reached out and asked if I could dress her for Miss Universe, as she was tapped by the organization to be one of their judges!
When Marian and I talked, we both knew that we had to highlight her upper body assets as she would be sitting down most of the time. Likewise, I knew that since she is one of the most influential women in the world, she needed to wear a piece that is very feminine yet powerful at the same time.
Thus, Marian’s evening gown is an off-shoulder piece that comes in beautiful shades of pink, beautified by gleaming crystals and beads. Her beauty showed more when she stood up, showed it off, and smiled at the audience.
Mr. Jonas Gaffud, Creative Director of Miss Universe Philippines, asked me if I could design her gowns for Miss Universe. I immediately said yes to the opportunity. My creative rush was consistent because her personality really sparked inspiring ideas.
Part of the collection includes a red asymmetrical cut ensemble with intricate beadwork forming linear patterns; a gold gown with the unique Pintados patterns, beautified by iridescent beads and crystals; a shiny, silver dress featuring tassel-like cut outs accentuated with extravagant crystal embellishments; a bejeweled, royal blue version of her red asymmetrical cut dress; and a powerful and glamorous tangerine gown, encrusted with crystals and beads.
Seeing Bea rise and soar at the pageant touched many hearts because she truly is the shining star of her generation. I believe that she will make a huge difference in the world. Her wonderful journey is now beginning!
Ushering in a New Year of Creative Ideas
These enchanting creations have kept me going this year. Although there were a lot of unseen hardships and unforeseen circumstances that have happened, I conquered these instances with the help of my amazing team.
I can’t wait to see what 2022 has in store for all of us! I too am certain that next year will surpass 2021’s great journey. Thus, I am also looking forward to creating more elegant ensembles for my future clients and loving friends soon!
For now, I bid 2021 goodbye, and I wish everyone here a prosperous and fulfilled New Year!
Francis is a Filipino architect and fashion designer. His love for travel, nature, architecture, and patterns is very apparent in his creations. Being in the business for more than two decades, Francis is considered as one of the Philippine’s premier fashion designers and his brand is dedicated to producing original, high quality, wearable art pieces which promote Filipino beauty, artistry, talent, and craftsmanship on the global arena. Francis Libiran’s international success, awe-inspiring designs and creations, and keen eye for detail opened the doors of opportunities to dress some of the biggest stars the world over.
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