Martin Bautista’s many years in the industry have proved himself a master of draping; jersey was his fabric of choice. Although he has in recent lookbook-release collections used velvet and satin to much success, Bautista has long stuck to crowd-favourite silhouettes. It’s understandable—his twists and tricks are surprisingly forgiving to the figure, whether you’re Liza Soberano or just ready to party.
His F/W 17 showing at Manila Fashion Festival was not a departure from this aesthetic, but Bautista gave a fresh perspective to his signature elements with new detailing. Tuxedo bibs gave shape to an outburst of flounce and flow; primary-coloured feathering either lined edges or completely took over; crystal embellishment reminiscent of disco gave everything a distinct ‘70s flair.
While Bautista’s offering was not so much the highly conceptual, fantasy-driven runway show others prefer, it was an efficient walk-through of styles that women in the audience (and on their computers) can wear themselves. Bautista is mainly a ready to wear designer, perhaps because he enjoys dressing a personality, a person, a woman much more than a mannequin. And no mannequin would enjoy the movement and memory promised by pieces such as a gorgeous, flowy trapeze dress with bell sleeves and a structured bib; shoulder-baring embellished shift dresses; and a crystal-bibbed gown of burnt sienna that moved with Halston-esque elegance. It was distinct, so full of personality—and so full of optimism in ways that aren’t marked by rainbows and flowers.
Bautista’s clothes have always been about celebration; so perhaps it’s a sign of changing times that many of Bautista’s pieces now gave more breathing room in the middle, in case one is more inclined to tacos and beer than tapas and small plates. You’ve got to give it to him—he knows his women well.