EXCLUSIVE: Francis Libiran Injects Couture Precision to BAYO’s Classic Aesthetic

EXCLUSIVE: Francis Libiran Injects Couture Precision to BAYO's Classic Aesthetic
EXCLUSIVE: Francis Libiran Injects Couture Precision to BAYO’s Classic Aesthetic

For 25 years and counting, Bayo has been holding up the Filipino flag for modern women all over the country. The brand has reliably dressed busy Filipinas from office to coffee to parties to overseas vacations. But no matter how stable a brand is, injecting fresh blood can’t hurt.

This 2017, Bayo tapped one of the country’s most recognized high-fashion designers (both locally and internationally) to collaborate on its collections. Here, the celebrated Francis Libiran and Bayo’s creative director Anna Marie Lagon tell us how the brand’s classic aesthetic will get a facelift.

In a nutshell, what is Bayo?

Anna: It’s Filipino and proud. It’s always been known for celebrating elements related to being Filipino. We’d always look at inspirations related to our culture and traditions, and apply it to things that are acceptable to the Bayo woman.

Who is the Bayo woman?

Anna: She loves travel—so when she goes around, Bayo allows her to blend in swiftly and gracefully. She’s also very busy. She can be a mother or career-oriented, but she always looks for clothing that can last her for a long time and remain stylish at the same time.

It’s not fast fashion.

Anna: We’re definitely not in that category. 

How did the collaboration come about?

Anna: We were looking for someone who can represent the brand, not only design for it Someone who is known locally and internationally. The first one on the list is Francis, and we were very blessed to have his yes right away. Everything went smoothly from there.

Francis, why did you decide to work with Bayo?

Francis: When we sat down, I wanted to hear what Bayo’s DNA is as a retailer. They said their style is very classic for the modern Filipino. What hit me is Filipino–we had that same vision of putting Filipino at the forefront. That’s why I said yes right away.

Can you tell us about your design aesthetic and how you will meld it to Bayo’s?

Francis: My training is to be haute couture. I’ve been designing gowns with a lot of fru-fru. Bayo is a different venue for me. It’s RTW, and I’m so used to embroidery and beading. The first thing I asked them was “How can we do this?” They said they have their own facilities to print their own patterns on the fabric. So for that alone, it’s a go–because I could create my own patterns.

Can you tell us about your creative process for this collaboration? What’s it like working with Anna?

Francis: When we collaborate, we’d sit down for dinner.

Anna: But he doesn’t eat! I eat everything! [laughs]

Francis: I drink wine, it helps me be creative [laughs]. So we would share ideas, and at the end of the dinner, we have a collection. It’s nice working with them because they don’t restrict you in terms of ideas. They’ll let you design. They’re open if it works or doesn’t work.

In what direction are you bringing the brand this year?

Anna: We don’t plan to change drastically, because we are confident with how Bayo is right now. The silhouettes will be the same, but updated in terms of shape. If you notice, fashion is like history—it repeats itself. It’s only the interpretation that changes. It’s more about adapting it to the changing lifestyle of the Filipino.

Can you tell us about the core collection?

Anna: There are patches on it that connotes our anniversary. These commemorative items make use of things that are so “now”, like patches, but done still in a classic silhouette that you can wear for a very long time.

Can you tell us about the Francis Libiran collection?

Francis: I love lines! If you look at it, it’s mostly art deco [laughs]. So what I did here is study the silhouette of what Bayo is known for, and then I made sure that the lines and prints are strategically located wherein the one who’s wearing it has a nice silhouette.

What fabric did you use?

Francis: We studied the fall of the fabric. We used stretchy neoprene for the top part of the dress to make sure that it is breathable. But for the bottom part, we used the thicker type of neoprene to hide body imperfections. It could be a very simple piece of garment, but every piece is well-thought of.

Why should our readers wear Bayo? How is it going to be different than the other fashion retail houses?

Francis: First, you can see a particular print from several brands. What I appreciate about Bayo is that they could produce original prints that is very different from other retailers.

But most importantly, there are a lot of international retailers coming into the Philippines. So with Bayo being there for the past 25 years, how can we make it significant? By putting a filipino designer with the aesthetics of the Filipino! We don’t want to follow what H&M is doing. Bayo’s design came from the Philippines, and is actually made in the Philippines.

Pure-blooded Filipino.

Anna: But aside from that, the creative team of Bayo is tasked to research on global trends. We make sure that whatever we present to our customers is updated and new. It may be basic in terms of shapes, but there is something in that piece of clothing that tells the wearer that it’s the “in” thing now. We don’t do much of trendiness, but we make sure it’s an updated classic. ~

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