Albert Andrada: Doing us proud in Paris

It’s been a month since Albert Andrada presented his creations at the Paris Fashion Week at the Paris Vendome. It was a most applauded showcase of Albert’s pret-a-porter creations for men and women, highlighting the aesthetics, traditions and grace of his country of origin.

Evident was Albert’s insistence on showing off the craftsmanship of the Filipino through various embroidered pieces that took off from such inspirations as our very own Filipina lass in her Maria Clara-sleeved outfit, Balintawak sleeves and shimmery camisa, coupled with Philippine indigenous flora, the archipelago’s beaches of powdery sands and seashells, and the internationally renowned barong — all cultural elements that he used to the hilt but very tastefully and elegantly as he combined them with western wear like blazers and coats. Prominent was his use of the Filipino fabric jusi, thus treating his audience to an exciting amalgam of the influences to which Albert had been exposed in his long, successful career. 

The waiting had been quite long as this Parisian project had had its share of setbacks. Finally, it did come and that did not only put a smile on Albert’s face but also prayers in his heart and on his lips. 

A good man

While there were other Filipinos who equally wowed cosmopolitan Paris, Albert took his well-deserved share of the accolades.

This gentleman, who attended the very Catholic San Sebastian College in elementary and high school, praises and honors the Divine Creator not only by attending the regular service at the Victory Fellowship Church, but by creating masterpieces that reflect divine inspiration. To him, “It’s not about religion. What’s important is one’s relationship with God. And when your relationship with God is okay, your relationship with people, especially your co-workers, your clients and your own family, is equally okay.”

ANDRADA: ‘Everything should be guided by God. He should be placed first, then everything will be okay.’

High society’s favored designer

The superlatives for his masterpieces indeed are in order for Albert, a top favorite of many prominent stylish ladies. In showbiz, two of his regular clients are Julia Montes and Claudine Baretto who, he said of the latter, “is making a comeback.”  

His latest convert, one who had actually been raring to don an Albert Andrada, is entrepreneur and former Binibining Pilipinas Maja Tiffany Syson Cuña, the lady who has been a constant inspiration to maverick businessman Noel Onate and a devoted mother to their children. It had been a dream come true for Tiffany who initially had qualms about approaching Albert who, as everyone knows, is busy.

She did ask for the intercession of an original Albert Andrada client who whispered to Albert about giving Tiffany a day in his ever-busy court, as it were. And it did come to pass that Tiffany stood out with aplomb as she gracefully walked the ramp during the latest awards night of the Philippine Cancer Society’s Best Dressed List. If she was naturally confident, she felt comfortable and relaxed in her Albert Andrada get-up, eliciting cheers and applause from the appreciative crowd. 

Miss Luzon for his mother

Albert’s long journey leading to Paris began from his childhood when he was fascinated by his well-groomed mother, the former Lina Andrada, a Miss Luzon from La Union, whose insistence on looking good in her finery fascinated her son.

“She would come out of her room with her face fully made up,” recalled Albert. She had wanted him to take up one of those usual courses that tradition-minded parents favored, his father being an engineer, and their relatives being physicians, but Albert stuck to his guts and chose to become a designer. If it was any easier for him, it was because they had accepted his sexuality and “my being gay was never issue in our family,” he shared. 

This close mother-and-son relationship, despite their occasional differences over his life’s choices, would bear fruit when his mother, one day, asked him to dress up because she had a surprise for him.

To his amazement, she brought him to an empty space that she said would be his first shop. It was in their neighborhood in Kamias, Quezon City, indeed quite distant from where he reigns supreme today, in the uppity fashion house row in Greenbelt where he receives his faithful followers who are immediately impressed by his famous iconic blue terno that greets them at the entrance. There is no mistaking it is the same national dress that Pia Wurtzbach wore on the final night of the Miss Universe beauty pageant.

Swarovsky Prize winner

Albert is the first to tell you that the path to Paris had not been one red royal carpet, for he had had his share of challenges, including the loss of his mother who, however, was blessed to have seen and enjoyed her son’s initial successes, including winning the internationally renowned Swarovsky Prize. 

Through life’s triumphs, such as working in the Middle East exclusively for a royal princess, and heartaches, including his partner getting sick and confined in bed, Albert has kept his faith in the Creator. There is not a single day he does not praise Him for the overflowing blessings with which this prince of Philippine fashion has been showered.  

As he was busy counting down to his departure for the City of Lights, Albert was both pensive as he recalled his beginnings and glowing as he looked forward to presenting his creations before an audience of fashion critics, buyers and celebrities. 

A few days later, Albert would come home triumphant and feeling vindicated for this latest gamble, for many indeed had doubted his Parisian outing — several times canceled, would finally come to pass.

TIFFANY Syson Cuña

Mentor to young designers

The most admirable of Albert’s plus points is his desire to help the country’s young designers. “I mentor young designers,” he shared, mentioning “Jezelle Amorado as among our upcoming designers. She just had her show at Marriott and she’s doing well.

“I used to teach at Raffles Design in Manila and on the first day of class, I would tell them to have their dinner with their parents and thank them because they’re in school and they’re spending a lot of money to pursue their passion.”

Gratitude, indeed, runs through Albert’s veins. He is quick to mention the names of fellow designers who have unconditionally supported and encouraged him including the famous Michael Cinco who, it is said, always looks at the goodness in every man and every friend. 

As for his detractors, including those who doubted he would be able to present his collection in Paris, Albert said, “I pray for them and thank them. I do my best to respect everyone even those who criticize me. I refuse to hate anyone because sometimes the people whom you might hate so much is the person who would help you in your times of need. You wouldn’t know what’s tomorrow. So, you have to be aware of everything that you see, everyone that you meet. So, it’s very important lang talaga (really) to be guided by God. Everything should be guided by God. He should be placed first, then everything will be okay.”