What sparks joy? For designer Happy Andrada-Gras, it’s wielding art that came from a play of purpose, consciousness, and elation
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This Designer Profile is an excerpt from MEGA’s May 2023 Issue
Designer Marian Joy Andrada-Gras brought such gaiety the moment she was born that her parents decided to give her the nickname Happy. At 15 years old, she filled up a whole sketchbook with her own designs. And instead of the usual cotillion for her 18th birthday, she had her very first fashion and arts show.
With her love for dressing up and self-styling, she went on to study fashion design at La Salle College International and at Central Saint Martins. She actually wanted to use the name Marian. But then, a member of the press, who was also a family friend, interviewed her and wrote Happy instead—and that’s what stuck with her.
“I want fashion to be accessible to everyone,” Andrada-Gras says. “You don’t have to be a certain body type to enjoy fashion. Whenever I do my own creations, I make sure that I use Philippine-made materials as well as icons inspired by the country. It has to be local.”
Starting with her inspiration—whether a silhouette, feeling, color, mood, or texture—Andrada-Gras shares that her design process is always evolving, a continuous practice that goes through many routes until she finds happiness in her work. As the designer sees it, fashion is an avenue to learn and grow, and people always have to give themselves the chance to find new discoveries.
For her new collection, Andrada-Gras wanted it to be a fusion of French and Filipino design. The versatile pieces display a European aesthetic but are created with Philippine-made materials, such as water lily, piña shifu, piña dupioni, piña crepe, and piña abaca. Inorganic fabrics are also incorporated, including charmeuse and Taiwan jusi. Having presented in London Fashion Week, Paris Fashion Week, and Milan Fashion Week as well as in design competitions around the world, Andrada-Gras’s vision has seen many great things—but she still knows where her true happiness thrives.
Read more about Happy Andrada-Gras’ own pursuit of happiness in MEGA’s May 2023 issue, now available on Readly, Magzter, Press Reader and Zinio
Photography MIGGY BRONO. Creative Direction JONES PALTENG. Fashion Direction RYUJI SHIOMITSU. Beauty Direction MIA CASTRO. Styling CHRISTINE SION, assisted by RONNIE GENORA and RAYA AÑASCO. Makeup JR CONSTANTINO. Hair GERALD PASCUA. Nails PAINT & STYLE. Model TATIANA RODRIGO. Sittings Editor BAM ABELLON. Fashion Writer MARIAN SAN PEDRO. Fashion Associate and Shoot Coordination BITHIA REYES.