Aiming for the New York Fashion Week

FILIPINXT founder and chief operating officer Rob Mallari-D’Auria, Lala Quilantang, Joel Cruz and FILIPINXT co-founder Bessie Besana and host Janeena Chan. | photographs by Dianne Bacelonia for the Daily Tribune

Seeing photos and videos of Filipino celebrities like Heart Evangelista, Pia Wurtzbach and Anne Curtis making heads turn while attending an international fashion event is always a source of delight for fashionistas this side of the world. So just imagine the pride and joy generated if a Filipino designer or group of designers is actually staging a fashion show in that glamorous occasion.

FILIPINXT spotlights local talents in fashion design and the arts.

The proponents behind Filipinxt, an event that celebrates local talent in fashion design and the arts, are moving closer to that goal with the D-Day happening on 5 May at the historic 4W43 Building in New York City, USA. In fact, its recently launched digital billboard at the nearby iconic Times Square in midtown Manhattan has been getting a lot of attention.

“We want to be recognized by the New York Fashion Week,” said New York-based fashion designer Bessie Besana, who’s also a co-founder of Filipinxt. New York Fashion Week is a semi-annual series of events, usually lasting for seven to nine days, that takes place in February and September. It is where buyers, media outlets and individuals get to see the latest in the fashion industry. It belongs to the world’s “Big 4” fashion weeks along with Paris, London and Milan.

MICHAEL Leyva’s masterpieces.

Besana, who’s in the country for the Philippine launch of Filipinxt, also said a follow-up show had been set “that will align with the New York Fashion Week” on 8 September. So eventually, he added, “This will be part of the New York Fashion Week. We are aiming for that.”

Joining Besana at the launch held at The Manila Ballroom of Marriott Hotel Manila in Pasay City were his fellow Filipinxt designers Michael Leyva and Wilson Limon. The fourth member, Veejay Floresca, was unable to make the trip from Los Angeles, California, where she’s been making a name as a designer who “dives into purposeful design through sustainable practices.”

Besana exclaimed, “I am very excited to bring this idea, this concept to life because this is not only for us [designers]. This is for all of us. We want this venture to be an avenue for all of us to represent the best talent we have. We also want this event to be the melting pot of all the businesses that want to go together, collaborate and be able to expand their network and expand their horizon.”

BESSIE Besana’s magnum opus.

Leyva likewise expressed his excitement to be part of Filipinxt, do a show in New York and “to showcase what Filipino designers are made of.” He talked a bit about his collection that’s been inspired by his late older brother and first mentor, Brian Leyva. That’s why it has references to heaven and angels.

“This is an all-white collection, showcasing the ingenuity of the Filipino artisans,” he pointed out. “I’ll be working on textiles from all over the Philippines because I believe Filipinxt is a platform for the designers in the Philippines to showcase to the world, the universe rather.”

Limon, who’s the creative force behind the Davao-based clothing brand NIñOFRANCO, said his collection is inspired by the “artisanal craftsmanship and agricultural scene” in scenic and ethnically rich Lake Sebu in South Cotabato.


For his part, Besana will present his newest line, Whispers of the Cosmos, a 15-piece collection for men and women imbued with the “allure of the universe.” He explained, “I was thinking if I lived in outer space, like how would fashion be out there. This is the representation of what I think people in the universe will be wearing.” Aside from the works of the four fashion designers, Filipinxt will also have a segment highlighting Marriott Hotel Manila as a luxury destination renowned for its own grand events like Marry Me at Marriott. This will serve as the perfect venue for the shift of Marry Me at Marriott to Gratus Philippine Gala, a “full-blown event celebrating stories of love and life’s dreams and winning moments.”

FILIPINXT co-founders Mallari-D’Auria and Bessie Besana, Joel Cruz, Michael Leyva, Wilson Limon, Lala Quilantang and host Janeena Chan.