15 Minutes with Francis Libiran

The internationally acclaimed fashion designer dishes on his dream client, his love for beaches, and working with Havaianas.

 

(SPOT.ph) Designer Francis Libiran is best known for his intricate and ethereal designs that have graced red carpets and glossy fashion editorials. He's dressed the likes of Tyra Banks and Anne Curtis. Now, he's partnering with Havaianas for the global brand's first collection featuring a local fashion designer.


It's a collaboration almost a year in the making and the end results do not disappoint. The collection's limited-edition designs are all inspired by the vibrance and popular culture of the Philippines, coupled with Libiran's eye-popping signature art deco aesthetic incorporated into each fun piece.

 

Every pair serves as a canvas for the creative vision of Libiran, whose logo will also exclusively appear on the straps of just 300 pairs of slippers. It is also the first Havaianas collection to feature the artist's name on the sole. You could say that this partnership is a right fit; even Anne Gonzales, Managing Director of Terry SA-the exclusive distributor of the brand in the country-thinks so. "We are very excited to have worked with Francis, whose creative ideals embody the very ideals of the brand," she says.

 

We had the opportunity to sit with the fashion designer himself, where he talked about his vision, his favorite architectural structure in Manila, and even his favorite clients.


The "Island" pair

 

On his inspiration behind the collection

It was meshing my architectural background and iconic Filipino designs. That's how I envisioned everything when I was conceptualizing [the design].

 

On the person he had in mind while designing the collection

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For the woman, she would be a beach girl, the one that always goes to Boracay or Palawan, and making a statement with her flipflops. With that in mind, I was thinking of something very eye-catching. One of the pieces is the "Festival," which is a lot more feminine. If you see the print, it's more of the maskara [design], and the gold straps make it more elegant.

 

The "Island" pair, which has the sarimanok that symbolizes the multicultural heritage of the Philippines, is more unisex. The colors are more vibrant. The "City," which is the jeepney, leans more on the masculine side.

 

On the challenge of creating his designs

It was capturing [a] Filipino [vibe] without looking too old or traditional. You want to cater to the new generation, too. At the same time, I wanted to incorporate my signature look, which is art deco.


The "Festival" pair

 

On collaborating with Havaianas

I believe in the brand. I'm a big fan of Havaianas, so when they approached me, I was so excited to do it. Every summer, I made sure that I have the new pair of whatever collection they have at the time. I would really fall in line, even for those flip floats in Laboracay.

 

On the transition from working with gowns to slippers

Of course it's challenging, because you're talking about flipflops. What can you do with a slipper to make it interesting? I researched on the brand and their previous collaborations with other designers. For me, it's really making a statement. Getting a message out.

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We, me and my team, really sat down and discussed the iconic symbols of being Filipino, but it still had to make a statement. We had 10 studies, we then submitted them to Havaianas, and they approved these three [designs].

 

On making the switch from a career in architecture to fashion

I love designing. I remember when I was small, my favorite toy was Lego. It's really creating something out of nothing. So design for me is something that comes out naturally. I could design anything that you give me.

 

I got bored with architecture because it took such a long time to see the finished product. In fashion, it's very easy. You draw, you cut, you sew, and it's there. So I guess the call for fashion was really there. I remember when I was eight years old, I would sketch at the back of my notebook. I'd picture an actress on the red carpet. I'd keep it under my bed because my dad didn’t support it. (laughs)


The "City" pair

 

On inspiring architecture in Manila

It's the art deco. If you notice old structures in Manila, we have so many art deco buildings. The sad part is tinatanggal nila. Walang nag-pre-preserve. When I look at an art deco-themed building, for me it's very interesting. I would sometimes take photos and just admire everything.

 

For me, it's the Jai Alai Building, which is sadly already gone. I just love the play of lines and curves that are meshed well together. Even the Metropolitan Theater is so inspiring. I go inside and I admire the ceilings, the door, the stairway.

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On his favorite clients...so far

Locally, my favorite would be Anne Curtis. I've been dressing her since she was 16 years old. International...[it would be] Nicole Kidman.

 

On his dream client

Say a client walks in and she's full-figured. She walks out feeling really great. That for me is my dream client, that you feel good and inspired while carrying my design.

 

The "City" and "Island" designs are priced at P1,195, while the "Festival" design is priced at P1,395. The Francis Libiran for Havaianas collection will be available starting December 1 at all authorized Havaianas retailers nationwide.

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