In an exclusive interview with MEGA, Leyva reveals the depth of his commitment to capturing the essence of Filipino culture through fashion
Within the heart of the Malacañang complex lies the majestic Goldenberg Mansion, a historical gem that has borne witness to the Philippines’ rich tapestry of culture and heritage. Now, this iconic venue is set to become a stage for a magnificent celebration of Filipino diversity and creativity as fashion designer Michael Leyva unveils his much-anticipated show, Isang Pilipinas.
With a vision that stretches from Luzon, Visayas, to Mindanao, Michael Leyva’s upcoming collection is more than just a fashion spectacle—it is a heartfelt tribute, an ensemble of colors and textures that sing the song of the Philippines’ soul.
Isang Pilipinas is not only an assembly of outfits, but also a living fabric woven with threads of collaboration. “I traveled from Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao to Cebu to Albay to source out fabrics that I can use for the collection. So this time, I mixed it with the typical Michael Leyva couture pieces with the use of these weaving textiles that we have all over the country,” he explains. His journey took him to weaving communities across the country. The result? A collection that showcases the mastery of local craftsmanship and encapsulates the rich stories of the Philippines’ three main islands.
As the designer explains, the weaving culture is not only a testament to the Philippines’ heritage, but also a global statement. It’s a powerful reminder that tradition and innovation can coexist, and that fashion has the unique power to convey narratives beyond words. Collaborating with weaving communities has enriched Leyva’s creative journey and amplified the voices of the weavers themselves.
Every pattern, every motif, every intricate detail in these fabrics tells a story. They represent generations of craftsmanship, resilience, and cultural identity. By incorporating these weaves into the designs, it aims to create a harmonious blend of tradition and modernity—a reflection of our nation’s vibrant spirit.
Balancing the preparation for over a hundred looks for this year’s State of the Nation Address with the creation of 60 distinct ensembles for Isang Pilipinas wasn’t without its challenges. Yet, his commitment to uniqueness and innovation prevailed. Each piece, meticulously designed, tells its own story while contributing to the greater narrative of the show.
For Leyva, this collection is a reflection of his decade-long evolution in the industry. Reflecting on his journey, he shares, “I became more [of a] perfectionist, even into the details. I want to showcase [a] different Michael Leyva from time to time because I want to keep on reinventing myself so that the people that will see my collection will always see a new collection in me. New Michael Leyva.”
As the third designer to participate in the First Lady’s Goldenberg Fashion Series, he carries the weight of preserving and celebrating Filipino culture, making it a testament to the power of fashion to honor heritage and identity. “It’s our First Lady’s project to really support the weaving industry all over the country,” he emphasizes. “So I really tapped different weaving industries all over the Philippines for them to give me ideas and fabrics that I can use for the collection.” By blending timeless elegance with traditional weaves, Leyva sends a resounding message that these textiles are not merely fabrics; they are vessels of history and culture.
The message is not doing a fashion show. The message is to tell the world that the weaving industry in the Philippines can be global.Michael Leyva
With Isang Pilipinas, Leyva is embarking on a journey that goes beyond the runway. It’s a journey of preservation, of sparking conversations, and of creating lasting impacts. This show is poised to set the stage for a new era in Philippine fashion—one where tradition and innovation dance hand in hand, and where the vibrant threads of the nation’s culture are interwoven into every stitch.
As Leyva sets his sights on the global stage, his aspirations for the international scene are rooted in his belief that the world deserves to witness the Philippines’ creative prowess. He envisions a future where his designs grace the runways of LA, New York, and Dubai, carrying with them the spirit of Filipino craftsmanship and weaving heritage. As the designer prepares to unveil Isang Pilipinas, he remains steadfast in his aspirations for global recognition. “I’m doing another show this year in Dubai Fashion Week. I always wanted to go global… I will be bringing the trademark [of the] Filipino. I’m a Filipino designer. My textiles are local. I will showcase that it can be global.”
Michael Leyva’s Isang Pilipinas emerges as a poignant reminder of the power of fashion to transcend boundaries, connect cultures, and preserve heritage. In a world that is increasingly interconnected yet yearning for authenticity, the show shines as a light of optimism, a celebration of diversity, and a love letter to the Philippine weaving community. As the Goldenberg Mansion’s historic walls prepare to host this momentous occasion, we are reminded that fashion has the global power to be a canvas of heritage, a stage for tradition, and a vessel of storytelling.
Photography KIERAN PUNAN