For most pageant insiders, the name Pablo Galicia Mendez has been a player in the beauty pageant scene for quite sometime. However for most pageant fans, he is still relatively known not to many. So today, we are featuring this master couturier and put him in the spotlight for a fashion feature.
His name came to recognition back in 2013 when he designed the gold terno that Binibining Pilipinas 2013 1st runner up Pia Wurtzbach wore during the national costume competition. Since then, he has become to be a designer who created masterful pieces that were technical and wildly creative while maintaining an old-world couture sensibility. In one of the national costumes he made, he used hundreds of vintage embroidered handkerchiefs to create a haute couture terno for Binibining Pilipinas 2016.
One of his latest pageant masterpieces were the national costume and evening gown that Binibining Pilipinas 1st runner up Charmaine Elima wore for the 2017 edition. The evening gown was Greek goddess inspired. It was a take on the one shoulder/ single sleeve trend that is a timeless classic at the red-carpet. The gown features an exaggerated sleeve on a heavuly crystal-encrusted a-line bodice. A lovely feature of this gown is how it flatters the shape of the wearer by creating a long silhouette for the wearer. This design actually is very international pageant appropriate…and as I have said before, this gown could compete with the Miss Colombia gowns in Miss Universe.
Pablo’s designs aren’t your typical run-off-the-mill clothes that so many amateur designers seem to blurt out these days, his is a carefully thought of designs that you would be proud to own in your wardrobe. His creations showcases masterfully crafted pieces that screams quality and refinement in technique.
Next time you are thinking of a designer for a wedding, debut or any important formal occasion, keep the name Pablo Galicia Mendez in mind.
With a lavish and ambitious costume such as the La Reina Emperatriz terno, the next phase is to find a designer to collaborate with to make this vision into reality. This is where Sir Pablo Galicia Mendez came in. It was this symbiotic partnership that made a flat 2D illustration come to life.
What made this tandem a perfect collaboration was the fact that there were much discussions involved on the material, color and execution. Unlike other designers who are too strict in their vision, the ‘La Reina Emperatriz‘ costume was borne out of constant fine tuning which kept the creative juices flowing. The design itself was a living evolving creation. It was as much as Sir Pablo’s as it was mine. This is where the creative sensibilities of two merged to come up with a magnificent overall outcome for the original design.
What he did was to bring new ideas of embossed embroideries (like those of Marian and Sto. Nino statues), brass embellishments, stones and crystals mixed with 3D printing to make this a totally fresh take on the traditional terno. Through his connections in the industry, he was able to find artist/ painter Jeffrey Catuira who did all the 3D printing on the costume (mainly located on the sides and back panels). Throughout weeks of back and forth discussions, we were able improve, alter and polish on the design. Eventually the design was simplified so instead of layers, it became just a single layer in ecru. The crown was a bit of an overkill and was dropped and the stiffness was lessened. So when it was time to submit original designs for BPCI to see, the design was met with immediate approval.
In fact, Conchitina Bernardo even exclaimed that this was inspired from Santo Niño. The costume was jokingly nicknamed ‘our lady of Araneta’ (Nuestra Señora de Araneta in Spanish) due to its overall design, despite the fact that it was the Santacruzan that first inspired it.
The final terno was made from a structured material embellished with baroque gold metal brass, heavy embroideries with crystals and stones, plus 3D painting. Topping the costume was a baroque gold brass headdress that is a representation of the halo of Saint Helena.
Such creative endeavor are quite rare to see nowadays. For me this was not just an exercise of creativity but a proof that when two or three or four minds come together to collaborate, the outcome is always a labour of love… While this isn’t my first rodeo (so to speak), I am nonetheless intrigued if such possibility will present itself again in the future. But if it does, I already have a design in mind and it will be an exercise of one’s haute couture sensibilities once again…
When I was asked to conceptualize a lavish Philippine national costume, the first that came to mind is how we are fascinated with the religious pageantry of the Santacruzan. It is no surprise that I heavily drew influences on that Philippine tradition of the Sagalas for a unique terno.
The national costume that I sketched and conceptualized using computer graphics was the birth-child of a brainstorming session with our Sash Factor head, Larry Elima. He wanted something that is inspired by the Nuestra Señora La Laval, but worked around it so as not to offend religious sensibilities. Instead we thought of a lavish La Reina Emperatriz costume that hasn’t been done before in Philippine pageantry that borrows elements from religious statues. Did you know that the Reina Emperatriz and Reina Elena are one and the same person? Saint Helena upon the ascension of Emperor Constantine was honoured with the title as Queen Mother of the Holy Roman Empire. And that in Santacruzan when there is more than one lass being considered as Reina Elena the other can be bestowed with the Reina Emperatriz title, which are of equal importance. The difference in depiction of the two is that the Reina Elena would usually carry a gold cross and a bible while the Reina Emperatriz is decked with a crown and a scepter.
The design that I conceptualized for the Reina Emperatriz went with several permutations and revisions to arrive at its final version. I first came up with a trapeze silhouette that is reminiscent of the Santo Nino statues usually found in Philippine ancestral homes’ altars. Originally, the design was to have it in silk gazar with a circular cape as outer layer of the costume. The circular cape was to be decked with lace appliques and laser cut flowers then hand-sewn with crystals. A headdress that is patterned from the halos of religious statues adorns the head with a gold crown (TRIVIA: this idea came to me first back in 2013 when I illustrated a white La Emperatriz costume I would have loved to see on Ariella Arida in Moscow). The design was rendered in blue, black and then gold to which the gold option was the one that struck us the most.
It got several more edits before it was finalized. When both I and Sir Larry were satisfied with the design, we agreed that this would be the one we will present for a lass planning to join Binibining Pilipinas 2017. During our meet up in Manila on September of last year, we finally showed the design to its eventual co-designer, Pablo Galicia Mendez.
I hope my Thai online friends would not take offense with my lack of understanding of the Thai national dress. With that out in the open, I am marveled at the splendor of the national costume reveal of Miss Universe Thailand Chalita Suansane.
If my memories of my college subject, Asian Costume History, serves me right, Chalita is wearing the Thai Siwalai dress which is a formal attire worn by royalty. While I am floored by last year’s TukTuk costume, I am more awe-struck with the richness of this year costume for it reveals a thorough love of the Thai customs and traditions. This Thai silk ensemble is embellished and beaded to perfection reminiscing the Balmain haute couture outfits of Her Majesty the Queen Sirikit of Thailand. Those Balmain outfits were hand-finished, embroidered and beaded by the best workers at the House of Lesage (which is now owned by the same owners of Chanel). Here are a couple of videos from @team.chalita showing off the costume…