Millinery Maven Mich Dulce and Her Future Fashion Feats

Millinery Maven Mich Dulce and Her Future Fashion Feats


On her grand fashion revival, Mich Dulce traces her evolution on the heels of her first show in over 15 years at the upcoming Bench Fashion Week

“What’s the name of the girl? It’s so hot, I’m just worried about her being outside—she might die.” Mich Dulce traipses around her atelier, moving hat boxes stamped with a name that offers the immediate recognition of expert millinery in the country: Dulce. She wants you to know she’s not just a fashion icon; she’s a delightful character who genuinely cares about those around her. 

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MEGA Mich Dulce

High in a cozy atelier, where the soft rustle of fabrics and the tacking of needs form a comforting sound, Mich Dulce stands amidst her latest creations. In this sanctuary of creativity, she’s poised to make her grand return to the fashion world at Bench Fashion Week 2023, marking her first show in 15 years. Known for her distinctive blend of high-fashion whimsy, this comeback has allowed the celebrated fashion maven to think back on her progression. 

Before this triumphant return, it’s worth noting that Mich Dulce had already made waves in the fashion industry. In 2002, she placed first runner-up at MEGA’s Young Designers Competition, a testament to her early talent and creativity. Fast forward to 2007, and she was crowned the MEGA Fashion Designer of the Year for Streetwear, solidifying her status as a trailblazer in Philippine fashion.

MEGA Mich Dulce YDC

The designer reveals her multifaceted charm. She exudes warmth, humor, and kindness, with a touch of eccentricity that befits a designer of her caliber. It’s clear she has a distinct idea of how she wants to present herself. In two decades in the industry, she just doesn’t ask for it, but rather appropriately demands it. Dulce is an intelligent and self-aware artist who has shaped her distinct style over the years. “I love that! Ang goal natin [is to] catfish,” she joked with a mischievous grin, referring to her love for the editing process, playfully acknowledging the magic of digital transformation. She tries to look less serious, saying, “After 40, you can’t have a straight face because you’ll look old, but a small smile [is enough]—and Botox.” 

Drapes and dreams

Diving into her upcoming collection, Mich Dulce reveals that it’s a journey of revisiting old silhouettes and tracing the evolution of her aesthetic. It’s about taking a step back to reflect on what she created in the past and infusing it with her current perspective and creativity.

“I’ve always been a girl of simple fabrics,” she shares, reminiscing about her early days of using katcha and dyeing it to create something extraordinary. But now, with years of experience and maturity, she’s embracing the value of Filipino fabrics. Her commitment to sustainability is evident as she introduces piña and Tinalak into her designs, celebrating the beauty of locally-sourced materials.

One notable surprise in her collection is the inclusion of latex, a material known for its sensuality. The designer’s challenge was to seamlessly integrate this sexy material into her trademark aesthetic, which leans towards the girly, textured, and drapery style. Imagine the task at hand: blending the sultriness of latex with her trademark elements of puff sleeves, drapery, and girlish charm. It’s like merging a rock concert with a tea party—a delightful and daring juxtaposition. But Dulce, renowned for her creativity, has found a way to make it work. What’s even more remarkable is that latex aligns perfectly with her commitment to sustainability. It’s made from natural rubber, a biodegradable material that literally grows on trees.

Mich, metamorphosized

As we turn the pages of her narrative, we find Mich Dulce standing at the crossroads of her former self and her present iteration as a designer. Her trademark elements remain steadfast, like old friends welcoming her back into the world of clothing creation. “It’s a very limited set of people who understood what Japanese and British fashion look like.” But there’s a discernible shift, a refinement in her approach, like a fine wine maturing with age. She candidly acknowledges this transformation, an evolution that has taken her from a young designer who eschewed expensive fabrics to a seasoned artist who embraces them with open arms. “They know my influences.” 

Dulce’s journey wasn’t a solitary one; it was enriched by invaluable experiences working with renowned fashion houses like Chanel and Maison Michel, Chanel’s hat line. These 20 years of experience in the luxury market served as her compass, guiding her toward an epiphany that material quality is a statement of her stature in the fashion world. 

With a self-assured smile, she confides, “I trust myself more as a designer.” This newfound confidence empowers her to work with fabrics that once seemed out of reach, materials that command respect and admiration. “I have a knowledge that people appreciate what I do, which is what I didn’t have before.” She’s no longer daunted by the price tag, but rather emboldened by her creative prowess, knowing that she can elevate even the most opulent fabrics to new heights. 

Less is more, quality endures

In her world, fashion is a long-lasting love affair with clothing that transcends seasons. She carries the philosophy created by one of her idols, Vivienne Westwood: “Buy less, choose well, make it last.” These creations defy the wear-and-tear of time, reminding us that fashion should be an enduring love story, not a fling. She emphasizes the importance of well-crafted garments that can be worn again and again, a stark contrast to the world of fast fashion. “In the studio, we have a zero waste policy. We never throw off your tassels. They’re always used for a future garment.”

Dulce’s commitment to sustainability is more than skin deep. It extends to her social enterprise work, particularly with craft communities. It’s a journey that meanders through the heart of craft communities, supporting their livelihoods and preserving their time-honored techniques. She firmly believes that supporting and sustaining craft is what defines true luxury in fashion. 

The designer knows that sustaining craft is the bedrock of genuine luxury in fashion. It’s the delicate hand-stitched details, the richly woven fabrics, and the skills passed down through generations that elevate fashion to an art form. “I always believe that craft is what makes things luxury. It’s what should make things luxury, right?”

Hats off to the future

Looking ahead, Dulce envisions her brand continuing to champion sustainability through assemblage, small-batch production, and made-to-order pieces. It’s a path less traveled in global fashion, one that she initially hesitated to tread. However, her commitment to sustainability and her refusal to conform to conventional norms led her down this road. “Adapting to it kind of helps pursue our sustainability goals, and that’s important to me.” She embraces a model that aligns with her sustainability goals while providing customers with enduring and meaningful fashion choices.

The designer is curious to see how the younger generation will respond to her unique aesthetic. With a nod to the fact that the fashion landscape has evolved since her last show, she hopes to find a tribe among the new audience who appreciates her timeless, sustainable creations.

Mich Dulce’s return to the fashion spotlight at Bench Fashion Week 2023 is a comeback evolution that showcases who she is now as a designer alongside her unwavering commitment to crafting sustainable, timeless pieces. As we await her show with bated breath, one thing is certain: Mich Dulce’s creativity and influence will leave a mark on the fashion world, one that transcends trends and endures through the ages—much like a well-crafted hat that never goes out of style.


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