WHEN A girl is born, she emerges from her mother’s womb naked, and presumably loved. As she grows older, she throws on more clothes, more armor; the better to protect herself from the world. That is, until she meets someone who can disarm her, and slowly, she decides to strip off her layers to reveal herself, in order to love.
This is what drives wedding dress designer Patricia Pascual, who gives deep necklines, gravity-defying low backs, and tight-fitting wedding dresses to her brides as they approach the altar. “You want to look like a woman,” she told BusinessWorld in an interview.
The 25-year old Ms. Pascual graduated from the Fashion Institute of the Philippines, but didn’t immediately enter fashion. She initially worked in sales and marketing at a hospital, and started an online store reselling clothes from suppliers. Then, drawing on her own knowledge, she hired a seamstress and designed rompers, cocktail dresses, and tops to sell and to give as gifts: these outfits were characterized by loosely draped shoulders to give the illusion of their slowly being taken off, as well as slits here and there, and some low backs. She only began delving into formalwear after a cousin asked her to design dresses for her bridal entourage.
Her rather daring dresses go against the grain of the big white wedding, popularized by Queen Victoria in the 1800s. The young queen married the dashing Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in a white dress, which would set the fashion for the succeeding centuries. Even today, many brides may still opt to wear wide skirts in a fulfillment of some sort of princess fantasy. Ms. Pascual thinks they should do otherwise. “Woman na ako ngayon. Kaya ko na magpakita ng kaunting skin (I’m a woman now. I can show a little bit more skin),” she said. “You want your groom to realize that this is it; I’m ready, and I’m a woman.”
In the recurring thread of the unabashed flaunting of femininity in the interview, Ms. Pascual said that she prefers to work with lace and tulle, the better to show off the inner woman, and, well, some skin. About lace, she said: “’Pag shinape na sa katawan iyong damit ko, mas kitang-kita (When you shape the [lace] dress on the body, it’s more visible).”
A bridal gown is a synergy between the ideas of the bride and the designer, so BusinessWorld asked Ms. Pascual to describe herself. “Make this nice. Put down sexy and elegant,” she said. “Fun! Put that there!”
Describing her brides, she describes them as jolly, which matches Ms. Pascual — luckily. Ms. Pascual may not be up to be working with shy, blushing brides. “That’s number one. You have to be friends with your suppliers.”
“You have to be confident,” she said about brides who go her way. As far as Ms. Pascual is concerned, electing to have a custom-made dress, hand-embroidered and hand-beaded in her studio in Quezon City, already says that the bride is the type to know what she wants. “Anong gusto mo na hindi mo nahanap sa ready-to-wear (What did you want that you couldn’t find in a ready-to-wear dress)?”
Of course, showing to much skin in a church is a no-no — some churches prescribe dress codes for their brides. What Ms. Pascual brings to her brides is a sense of confidence in showing off what they already like about themselves, but at the same time, slowly embracing what they perceive as flaws. One of the questions she asks her brides while fitting is, “Do you usually wear this type of dress?”
“Pipilitin mo or ia-advise… kakaiba naman (You’ll coax, or advice them to wear something different), for others to see you in that kind of dress,”she said. “Kahit hindi ka ganon ka-sexy, at least, di ba, feel na feel mo (Even if you’re not that sexy; at least you can own it).” — Joseph L. Garcia
Ms. Pascual can be contacted through https://web.facebook.com/patriciapascualdesigns/. Her studio is located in #15 Vienna St., Capitol Homes, Old Balara, Quezon City.