• Sofia Guellaty

Ezra, a Manila-born designer, is a common fixture in the region’s made-to-order circuit, especially for bridal gowns. Part of the Filipino triumvirate of Couture in the Middle East, along with Michael Cinco and Amato, he offered the same over-the-top show and regal theme as his compatriots. The trio didn’t talk about it in advance, according to Michael Cinco; it just so happened that the three designers played on crowns and queens and a heavy dose of beading and drama. The queen theme is a predictably easy option when it comes to Couture—or any runway show in the Middle East, as a matter of fact. The consensus during Fashion Forward, after viewing hundreds of evening gowns come down the runway, is that, according to this group of designers, the definition of femininity lies in the fairytale gown with mild variations that take one from European royalty to “courtesan”.

Ezra delivered a collection centered around shades of ivory, beige, gold, black, and a vivid red in monochromatic ensembles, most of them gowns except for the first look, a jumpsuit with a train and crystal embellished belt reminiscent of Elie Saab. The first looks were elegant and well-executed and the drama grew thereafter; out came sequined gold numbers, hand-embroidered corsets, and an armor-like dress with light gold panels reminding of feathers—the most striking look of the show. The collection continued with arrays of crystals, tulle, fur, lace, and flower appliqués culminating with a massive red tulle gown embroidered with baroque motifs and flanked with an Eastern European-styled crown. A real crowd pleaser for an audience seemingly blown away by all the va-va-voom the designer offered his aficionados.

The amount of time spent on each dress and the attention to deal of certain key looks is praiseworthy, although Ezra could easily have done without the fur and lace placements that overwhelmed some outfits. Even drama needs a certain amount of restraint.