Art/Style/Travel DiariesVideo

Ivar Aseron stages the best PH collection of 2023 (so far)

A masterstroke of design, technique, innovation—and restraint

Ivar Aseron
Ivar Aseron in half-kneel to acknowledge the applause of friends at the end of his show. (All photos, videos by

Ivarluski “Ivar” Aseron has just staged what must be the best fashion collection show of 2023 or of recent years— perhaps a premature pronouncement since the year isn’t over yet. But no matter, simply put, Manila hasn’t seen the likes of such a masterfully designed collection in a long time. At the end of the show, Rajo Laurel told us, “Now that’s how to stage a collection!”—that was a peer of Aseron dropping a statement as our group gushed.

At curtain call, Ivar Aseron with show producers Tessa Prieto and Kaye Tinga, and main supporter Ben Chan

Ivar Aseron

Ben Chan, Migs Pastor and Steven Tan

This, after I said that this cerebral collection must have gone over the head of the audience that has gotten so used to stretched tulle and princess ballgowns! (Exclamation needed.)

Long story short, Aseron’s 54-piece high-fashion (or made to order) collection was a masterstroke of design, construction and technique, and innovation. He veered away from his past creations or of what was expected of him—the “banig” or weaving technique that has become his signature design the past five years. Instead he came up with new cutting-edge looks by revisiting old techniques— for instance, the variations of book leaf (for short or long dresses).

More important, he stuck to his design point of view in the here and now instead of kowtowing or pleasing the market. His collection was a designer’s uncompromising and firm sense of identity and aesthetic. While mostly everyone is doing sweeping, burn-your-path ballgowns, he wouldn’t have any of those.

His finale dress on JoAnn Bitagcol was made entirely of cut beads sewn together—no fabric was used except to cover the shoulder pads. Labor, technique, craftsmanship all in one. That drew gasps from the audience that perhaps didn’t readily know the handiwork that went behind it.

In this era of fast fashion and design shortcuts, Aseron went back to the rigor of fashion, from design, fabrication to craftsmanship and finish. Thousands of man hours went into the making of the pieces in the collection.

In this era of fast fashion and design shortcuts, Aseron went back to the rigor of fashion, from design, fabrication to craftsmanship and finish

Very few Filipino designers could match Aseron’s passion and skill for fabrication—how he manipulates fabrics to turn these into design features and surprise accents. His designs don’t shout, but they leave you awestruck when you study them and scrutinize them up close.

Yet, amid this elaborate work, Aseron has always shown the hand of restraint. His strength is—he doesn’t overdo things. No excess. He’s the perfect editor. Never over the top. He doesn’t gag you with extravagance.


His collection was aptly titled A Memoir in Motion because it revisited his techniques from the past, in silhouettes and construction that were so fluid and seamless—the book leaves that moved with the body, the frills and strips unfurled. The motion was a foil to the structured look of the clothes.

Ivar Aseron

Aseron’s silhouette

He used silk taffeta, silk duchess satin, wool, crinoline, gazar.

The hairstyle, executed by a team led by Henri Calayag, was architectural, with a Japanese vibe.

Ivar Aseron

Ivar Aseron

Architecture-like hairstyle with Japanese vibe done by team led by Henri Calayag

Black and white were prominent. His colors were studiously curated: gray, midnight blue, navy blue, dusty blue, burnt orange, and metallics gold and silver.

Aseron’s collection was staged at the first post-pandemic benefit of the annual Red Charity Gala produced by the complementary pair of Kaye Tinga and Tessa Prieto, for the benefit of the Philippine Red Cross, the Assumption High School Batch 1981, and the Hope for Lupus Foundation, and the Save Palawan Seas. It hoped to raise about PhP8M.

Ivar Aseron

Aseron’s layering and accordion pleating

Ivar Aseron

Aseron minimalism

It was held at the Peninsula Manila lobby—a directorial feat for Robby Carmona. The irrepressible tandem of Tim Yap and Tessa coaxed out the winning bids from the ballgowned audience during the auction.

At curtain call, Aseron was in tears as he acknowledged the standing ovation of the 500-strong audience. This introverted, soft-spoken, shy designer was so touched and almost melting away in the spotlight and with all the attention. I noticed that he was sporting curls and loved this shock of wavy hair. And I told him so as he clutched his bouquet—“Now your curls give you attitude!”

Indeed this quiet worker, who never called attention to himself, deserves his Instagrammable moment.

Ivar Aseron

Bryan and Kai Lim

Ivar Aseron

Ara Arrida in an Ivar Aseron at Red Charity Gala


Lulu Tan Gan in an Ivar Aseron, the author in an Auggie Cordero, Lesley Mobo and Gino Gonzales

Author’s selfie with Rhett Eala, Millet Mananquil

JJ San Juan, Randy Ortiz, the author, Toots Tolentino, Vic Barba, Tonichi Nocom, Marco Protacio, Sen Sanchez

Peninsula Manila lobby all laid out for Red Charity Gala (Contributed photo)

About author


After devoting more than 30 years to daily newspaper editing (as Lifestyle editor) and a decade to magazine publishing (as editorial director and general manager), she now wants to focus on writing—she hopes.

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