Draping Success in Asia
Martin Bautista was still studying at Slim’s Fashion and Arts School when he made his debut at the Philippines Fashion Week in 2007. The designer’s first collection was a big hit, earning him rave reviews and great connections in the local fashion scene. The show was to prove a great take off for Bautista.
Straight out of fashion school, Bautista launched his eponymous label, known for its soft textures and love of silk sateen and bold colours, characteristically draped lines and ultra-feminine, 40’s reminiscent style.
Regarding his style, Bautista describes it as “Clean, chic and pure”. On his love for fashion, the designer recalls, “Being a fashion designer has always been my dream. It was pretty clear from early on that I would be working in fashion.”
And when asked when he knew he had made it, he simply states, “When I started working 15 hour days!”
Late last year, the 28-year-old was nominated for ‘Best Upcoming Fashion Designer’ at the Asia Fashion Awards, earning him a following outside his home country. But Bautista admits fashion is not always an easy trade, especially working as an independent designer.
“There are a lot of challenges working in the industry independently, like having access to a limited source of materials. Having said that, it can also work in my favour. By having that limitation it makes designing more challenging, keeping everything fresh and new and finding the beauty of what is left to work with,” he explains.
Not a trend follower, the designer stays true to his own style and philosophy, creating pieces “for real, everyday women”, finding inspiration in those very same women.
“I actually hate the word ‘trend’ because it takes out the personality of the wearer. It should be all about personal style, only then does it become original,” he goes on to say.
Bautista is very hands-on and keeps a busy schedule handling many of the operations himself.
“I meet my clients every day. They are scheduled every hour. In between fittings, I check my production, the sewers, finishings, and answer emails and calls. I do the patterns and draping myself, while working with the mannequins, most of which is early in the day while I’m still in my pyjamas or like most creative people, late into the night.”
Currently, a big part of the designer’s label is his custom-made bridal pieces. His is a very subtle and relaxed style, targeted more at the unconventional bride, all the while in keeping with the signature silhouette shapes he has become known for.
“I think that there’s a lot of potential in made-to-bespoke pieces, as people become more sensitive to the uniqueness of custom-made pieces,” he observes.
On the future, Martin reassures he is very much content with his position in the fashion world. He says he plans to be very cautious about his next moves while continuing to make his own unique statement in Asia’s fashion scene.
Your signature look?
Draped silk dresses
Favourite material to work with?
Colour, B&W or prints?
Gemma Ward, Karen Elson, Elise Crombez, Vlada Roslyakova, Liya Kebede and Mariacarla Boscono
Designers you look up to?
Olivier Theyskens, Dries Van Noten, Alber Elbaz
Favourite website/ blogs?
Favourite fashion era?
Your muse when creating?
Real women, everyday women
Advice for fashion designers starting out in Asia?
Focus on what you do, try to veer away and not look at what everyone else is doing. You’ll only get distracted