Revenge is back in fashion. The original sin was the “Revenge Dress” — think Princess Diana in the show-stopping, off-shoulder black mini worn on the very same night her not-so-Prince-Charming admitted to an affair.
And then there was Khloe Kardashian’s “Revenge Body,” constructed by the same over-zealous trainer who’s also added even more curves to J. Lo and Sofia Vergara.
Put them all together, and we simply had to run to our go-to fashion designer, Robbie Santos of Septième Rebelle, to get some answers about 2021’s take on “Revenge Dressing.”
Robbie says “almost miraculously” there are even more people putting in orders for his custom-made ensembles. It’s all part of the “Revenge Spending” for self-medicating the feelings of being deprived by being pent-up in the pandemic.
Robbie breaks it down into several occasions, the first being vacations with your vaccinated bubble at the beach.
“Clients who would normally fly out of the country have begun exploring our glorious islands instead — Boracay, Bohol, Siargao, El Nido, Balesin. During their stay in the resort, one of the nights will usually be dressy. So, clients opt for a sexy, breezy top, or a tunic with an interesting print or trim. There was once a client who requested the slit of her skirt to go much higher than normally expected. I asked, ‘Where’s the second honeymoon?’ She replied matter-of-factly, ‘At the beach.’”
For those stuck in the city, however, it’s all about what to wear for al-fresco dining.
“People still want to have fun and to dress up for dinner, but in order to make it worry-free, it’s about not eating in an air-conditioned, closed environment. All of this is something you need to address as a designer. How do you keep the client cool as a cucumber, but balance a skin-baring outfit with not looking like a slut? How do you keep a man looking relaxed but not effeminate? And then, important for restaurant occasions, how do you balance looking great but still have enough room to gorge on the rib-eye and tiramisu?”
All those questions, says Robbie, “play at the back of my mind while designing a particular collection. Sometimes, you need to constantly edit a look. I find myself on my final fitting and I am still revising a detail and removing or adding an element in the finishing.
“Thus, for those open-air occasions, I created silk shorts for ladies,” he explains. “The cut has just the right amount of informality but the fabric is luxe. I also explored the idea of the see-through with lace inserts combined with crepe as well as organdy to give the sense of the lightweight.
“For some designs,” he adds, “I created halter tops and skirts with bejeweled tassels — so as the woman stands from the table to head to the powder room, the tassels undulate to make an impact as she leaves the room.
“The men, too, have shorts in this collection to wear with summer-grade linen jackets. They’re relaxed but tapered and structured, just so they still look like gentlemen, and not otherwise!”
Are destination weddings still a thing?
Replies Robbie without skipping a beat: “Yes! It’s still all about ‘The Wedding of the Decade,’ but sadly, with just 10 guests. Now there is just a pair of principal sponsors so clients don’t think twice about splashing out on a little more.
These days, people also want a pared-down look more appropriate to the times. Lines are simpler; frou-frou is eliminated. It’s now all about quality, quality, quality. What never changes is the desire to look elegant — and slim — in pictures. That is always in the heart and mind of every bride and that’s where I come in.
“In the case of the wedding guest, she should look great but not overshadow the bride, who herself has foregone the drama that the original wedding gown should have had — for a wedding party lean enough to fit just a single dining table.
“Before the second ECQ came, I had one client who was about to attend a small wedding for 30 guests (down from the original list of 600). She had a brocade outfit made. Fortunately, I suggested a top and a pair of pants as opposed to a dress. This allowed her to pull it off in the poolside’s heat. And I am confident she can still mix and match the outfit when we’re back to normal and the next event is in an air-conditioned venue.”
Then there is dressing for those Zoom calls.
Says Robbie, “Some clients are presidents of companies, or doctors who do telemedicine, or hold crucial positions in a husband-and-wife enterprise. They often hold Zoom meetings and sometimes, they seek made-to-order outfits just for an important one when they need to make an impression. Sometimes, I even get requests to make teeny scarves for the neck or a mask to go with a blouse. I smile at this and give it a nod. (Just as a note, this is not my expertise, but I accept these orders because I also need to provide work to my people.)”
And finally, there’s “revenge dressing” for no particular reason at all. “It’s a Just-Because and a Just-in-Case,” grins Robbie. “Let’s face it. There are no events. There are no parties. There are no travels. You merely want to have a blouse, a skirt, a dress ‘just because’ you want one. There is, of course, another reason — the ‘just in case’ — in that very unlikely event that there is an event, you can have something new to wear.”
To tell the truth, he winks, “Some clients have gained weight, so they need a loose outfit just because their old tailored clothes have become tight. Some clients have lost weight, so they want new outfits to show off their toned arms or thigh gap. I’m glad to be there at any point of a client’s physical fluctuations during this time.”
Ultimately, “revenge dressing” should put you in that state of mind of looking good — and even better, feeling good — which, says this director of Septième Rebelle, is always the best revenge of all.