Meet the Host and Judges of the MEGA Young Designers Competition 2024

Meet the Host and Judges of the MEGA Young Designers Competition 2024


The MEGA Young Designers Competition 2024 will take the stage on Monday, May 6. Meet our host and the panel of judges who will unveil the future of Philippine fashion

The MEGA Young Designers Competition (YDC) is the longest running fashion competition in the country since its inception in 1994. After a short break, YDC is officially back to discover new, young, and promising talents who will herald the future of Philippine fashion. Before the unveiling of the collections of this year’s top six finalists, we highlight the significance and purpose of YDC—designers, models, industry professionals, and spectators coming together in their shared passion for creativity, innovation, and style. Welcoming these burgeoning fashion visionaries into the fashion industry are host R’Bonney Gabriel and our esteemed panel of judges. 

RELATED: MEGA Young Designers Competition 2024: Top 6 Finalists

The Host

R’Bonney Gabriel

Miss Universe 2022, Fashion Designer and Host of MEGA Young Designers Competition 2024

Miss Universe 2022 R’Bonney Gabriel is the host of the MEGA YDC 2024. As a fashion designer herself, R’Bonney knows the creativity, talent, and hard work that goes into bringing a design to life. She launched her own sustainable clothing line and was a sewing instructor for a nonprofit organization before her Miss USA and Miss Universe reigns.

“I studied fashion design in school not too long ago, so I really know the hustle and hard work that goes into designing,” she shared in an exclusive sit-down with MEGA. “When I was in college, I was always putting myself in design competitions, so I can relate to the students, and now being in this position, hosting the YDC is an honor.”

When asked about what she’s most excited to see from the top six, she answered, “The creativity and all the designs. I’m really curious to see all the talent here and how they are different from what I usually see in other places. I love looking at construction techniques, most especially, in the way things are sewn, so just analyzing that from the perspective of a designer is something I’m looking forward to the most.”

The YDC is MEGA’s longest-running initiative to discover up-and-coming designers. The aim of the competition is to expose the designers to a wider audience, to jumpstart their careers, and to attract to the attention of industry leaders and potential clients.

R’Bonney highlights the significance of the YDC for the aspiring designers. “There’s so much talent that young designers have, but it’s really hard for them to get their name out there,” she says. “I’ve been there myself and I can say it’s hard just to make it on talent alone. So I think these competitions are so important not only to showcase your work but also to network—you never know who you’re going to meet who may want to invest in you. And for me, I always want to enter any design competition even if I don’t win, because you get the feedback that you need: what works, what doesn’t work, and how are people responding? As a designer, it’s important that the more we design, the more we put our work out there. Market yourself and your talent.”

R’Bonney’s advice to the top six is to know and understand their signature style—and then experiment from there. “It took a long time for me to find mine, so I always want to design, design, and design,” she explains. “I don’t feel like you can do too much designing, so create as much as you can because then you can really hone in on your voice and start to get recognition for your work. When you really understand the message you’re trying to convey, that’s how you build your brand and name.”

Miss Universe 2022 never fails to support and contribute to the beauty, fashion, and design scene here in the Philippines with her own creations and her involvement in this year’s YDC. “It’s like watering where you have your seeds,” she says. “People were helping me in the beauty and fashion industry—I had mentors and designers I interned for and I have so much gratitude for the opportunities they’ve given me and the knowledge they’ve shared. So now, in this position for the YDC, I just want to give back and share my knowledge to help the younger designers.”

The Judges

Heart Evangelista

Global Fashion Icon

International fashion darling Heart Evangelista will be one of the esteemed judges who will be deciding the winner of this year’s YDC. A global icon, jet-setting socialite, the Philippines’ representative to and front-row seater in the world’s biggest Fashion Weeks, it’s impossible to overstate Heart’s influence and contribution to the local and global fashion industry today. 

Carissa Cruz-Evangelista

Chairwoman of Philippine Fashion Coalition

As part of the Philippine Fashion Coalition (PFC), Carissa Cruz-Evangelista is one of the key players in transforming the country’s fashion industry into a global force. She seeks to inspire the hearts and passion of our local creatives as a facilitator and conveyor for any exchanges in the fashion scene. With her brand Beatriz, Carissa supports the promotion of the Philippines’ local craftsmanship, and now she brings her expertise and knowledge to the YDC as one of the judges.

Jojie Lloren

Esteemed Fashion Designer

Prominent and Paris-trained fashion designer Jojie Lloren is a staunch advocate of tailoring as a true art form. Adept in both haute couture and prêt-à-porter fashion, Jojie’s authority as the founder of F.A.B Creatives School is significant addition to this year’s YDC. He firmly believes in providing a strong design foundation for those who want to enter the fashion industry. Jojie encourages young designers to keep their minds serious about their craft and a fertile ground for creativity. He aims to guide our local scene toward international recognition with every competition and every working Filipino designer.

Joey Samson

Esteemed Fashion Designer

Joey Samson is one of the most celebrated Filipino designer in the fashion industry. His evolution as a creative force in the scene gave him a keen eye for fit and fabric. Not for nothing is he hailed as the “garment surgeon” for his unmatched mastery in construction techniques. His design philosophy is distinguished by a deliberate interplay of cultural influences and inventive notions. No wonder he is known as the designer with a sharp eye for pushing the frontiers of fashion. He believes that what you consume and experience informs your work, so his perspective as a creative in that front is a significant contribution on deciding the winner this year. 

Jo Ann Bitagcol

Model, Photographer, and Fashion Designer

Fueled by creativity and the love of design from the beginning of her long and remarkable career in fashion, Jo Ann Bitagcol is an undeniable voice in Philippine Fashion today. Her experience as a model, photographer, and designer has taught her to look at the narratives and the stories every creative wants to tell through their collections. How the collections could be a representation of the Philippines’ appreciation for fashion will be part of her consideration as a judge in the competition.

Amina Aranaz-Alunan

Creative and Executive Director of ARANAZ and Co-founder of SoFA Design Institute

Co-founder of the SoFA Design Institute and Founding Member of Philippine Fashion Coalition (PFC) Amina Aranaz-Alunan is a trailblazer in the fashion industry. She established a platform to develop creative and inventive minds through the SoFA Design Institute. She is also an acclaimed bag designer, having launched her own brand, ARANAZ, with a heart for Filipino craftsmanship. Her goal as a founding member local fashion organizations and the creator of these intricate fashion accessories has always been to showcase the skills and craftsmanship of Filipino artisans and to champion Filipino ingenuity, potential, and creativity. 

John Lozano

Chief Marketing Officer of BYS Philippines and Celebrity Fashion Stylist

Chief Marketing Officer of BYS Philippines and celebrity stylist John Lozano knows the value of having a strong heart and a massive dose of creativity and inventiveness. These two qualities are necessary in the competitive world of fashion. It is no exaggeration to say that after 20 years in the profession, he has become one of the most sought-after stylists of some of the biggest personalities in entertainment. As one of the judges for this year’s YDC, John believes that incredible talent is meant to be shown, not hidden or ignored. The country is home to many talented young creatives waiting and working to be discovered. Celebrating them through competitions like this is one way for the industry to move forward. 

Peewee Reyes-Isidro

MEGA Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief of MEGA Magazine Peewee Reyes-Isidro’s editorial body of work spans eighteen years in the spheres of fashion, beauty, and lifestyle. As the leader of the preferred source and authority on fashion, beauty, and lifestyle, Peewee is a great believer in welcoming new and young blood to the fashion scene.

Patrick Ty

MEGA Creative Chief

MEGA’s Creative Chief Patrick Ty is more than capable and ready to weigh in on the competition as well. As the YDC is a reflection of the new Philippine fashion, he advocates for Filipino creatives to dominate this platform “to show what else can be pushed, what else is possible, and what else they are capable of.” He brings to the judges’ table his insights, experience, and perspective as a creative. He also believes that “Fashion is a fantasy. It’s free.” So, it is safe to presume that Patrick is excited to see how the top six designers will navigate this free world of fashion with their collections. 

Photos and Featured Image: MEGA Archives

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