Filipino designer Rian Fernandez, who dressed Miss USA 2022 R'Bonney Gabriel for the competition as well as her Miss Texas run before that, returned to Arab Fashion Week for the autumn/winter showcase in Dubai.
Fernandez, who founded his eponymous label in 2012 in Pangasinan in the Philippines, made his Middle East debut at the event in June during the menswear showcases. Known for his elaborate creations with strong cultural themes, on Tuesday, the first night of the six-day autumn/winter shows at Dubai Design District, the designer paid homage to Baguio, a city on Luzon island, north Philippines, where he said his love for fashion was born.
Scroll through the gallery above for Rian Fernandez's collection at Arab Fashion Week
Showcasing a mix of menswear and womenswear, the 40-piece collection was uncharacteristically colourful for the season, something the designer said was deliberate.
"They love colours in Baguio. It's also a city that's rich with culture," Fernandez tells The National.
Known as "the summer capital of the Philippines" owing to its elevation, Baguio's population is a melting pot of cultures, and is home to a number of ethnic tribes.
Fernandez's collection served as a nod to many of those tribes. While fringes on gowns represented the thread used in highland weaves, acrylic beads used for decorative purposes formed intricate patterns on puffy dresses, adding a dash of fun. There were also a lot of crystals, worked intricately on body-hugging pale-coloured gowns, while some formed striking headdresses.
Fernandez recently made news when he dressed Gabriel, who became the first Filipino-American in history to win the Miss USA title earlier this month. Gabriel, a model and fashion designer, beat 49 other candidates to the crown and will go on to represent the US at the Miss Universe 2022 pageant, to be held in New Orleans in January.
Before the Miss USA competition, Fernandez had dressed Gabriel when she competed in the Miss Texas competition this year and last.
He says accepted the invitation to participate in Arab Fashion Week in the hopes of introducing his label to the Middle East.
"It’s a very dreamy place and hopefully I'll set up my brand here soon," he says.