After Oliver Tolentino, Michael Cinco, Rajo Laurel and Georgina Wilson, yet another Filipino pride was featured on the iconic US TV show, America’s Next Top Model: British Invasion.
Fashion designer Francis Libiran was tapped to create several couture pieces made out of different Hello Kitty items for each of the contestants in the latest episode of the show.
The creative director of the photo shoot, Jay Manuel, referred to Francis as a “supremely talented designer.”
It took him three months to design 12 unique pieces of dress though only seven were actually used on the show.
His other works were also featured on the show with Anne Curtis as the model and another local talent, Mark Nicdao, as the photographer.
Francis admits that he was hesitant to accept the job at first, as it was clearly not an easy task.
“‘Tong challenge na ginawa ko for America’s Next Top Model, bago sa 'kin 'to. Kailangan, mag-sit down ako, mag-concentrate para lang magawa ko yung design na yun.”
In the end, he took the challenge.
“Imagine-in mo ah, magdedesign ka ng something na wala sa 'yo yung produkto, binabase mo lang lahat sa pictures na pinadala sa 'kin.”
“O, work on this one…wala 'kong dimension nung lunch boxes, stuffed animals.”
“So, lahat yun, I put into consideration nung dinesign ko yung Hello Kitty items.”
His excitement had to be contained after creating the designs last year because it was not aired until last Monday.
Francis shared how he felt when the “secret” was finally out. It was his sister who first broke the news.
“Nasa gym ako that time, pinakita niya lang yung pictures kaya medyo nataranta ko, napaupo lang ako sa isang corner, nagpasalamat sa Diyos ng marami na naipakita na siya.”
Making this possible was Michael Carandang, who works as one of the producers of America’s Next Top Model.
Though based in the US, Michael still has a home here in Manila and he's neighbors with Francis.
No wonder, after featuring Filipino designers on the show, it was only instinctive for him that Francis should be next.
PEP.ph and other members of the press asked Francis if he minds being compared to these designers as he follows their footsteps.
“Okay lang, kasi alam mo… Kasi, bawat isang designer, may kani-kanyang aesthetic. Si Oliver, meron siyang sarili nya. Si Rajo, meron siyang sarili niya.”
“So, I won’t say it’s a competition. Magkakaibigan naman kaming lahat, eh.”
“Ako, I’m, happy na naging part ako dun sa America’s Next Top Model…”
“Like I said, nung unang lumabas sina Michael Cinco, sina Oliver Tolentino, sina Rajo…lahat 'yan, as a designer, parang nangangarap lang 'ko… na makalinya sa kanila.”
“Ngayon, given the opportunity, siyempre, nakaka-overwhelm, to be part of that list, di ba?”
Aside from being a part of America’s Next Top Model, Francis also had the chance to have Tyra wear one of his creations, which he gave the model as a gift.
Tyra wore the dress at the 4th Annual Blossom Ball in New York just last month.
The designer also revealed that correspondence is currently going on between the two of them through email.
“Mag-e-email lang siya sa 'kin, what she likes, kung saan niya gagamitin, what for. Tapos, sinasabi niya, can you send me your look book para makapagpili ako ng mga designs…”
“Ang nakakatuwa naman kay Tyra, she’s open sa mga designs na gagawin ko sa kanya.”
“I personally design for her. Nagse-send ako ng mga sketches sa kanya, ia-approve niya yun. Nag-e-email lang kami about the colors, and stuff.”
Despite this admirable feat, Francis remains grounded and insists that he would rather stay in the Philippines even if he is slowly establishing a clientele in States.
“Siyempre, mas gusto ko dito sa Pilipinas. Mahal na mahal ko Pilipinas, eh.”
“So, if ever na magkakaroon man ako ng [office] dun, siguro receiving office, or a small office para lang ma-accomodate yung clients.”
He is also open to using local materials in his designs, if only to get them noticed in the international scene.
“Everything to promote ang Pilipinas.”
“Given the chance to use yung mga local fabrics, motif…everything to promote the Philippines, okay ako dun.”
Francis will also be designing the red carpet raiment of The Road actors for their L.A. premier.
“Ano sila eh…mostly, gowns. Gusto nila medyo komportable sila. And mga suits for the guys. And a bit of Filipiniana-inspired,” he related.