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“Spectrum Gala: A Feast for Crows” Was Delicious

PHNOM PENH: Filipino fashion designer, Reynier Abello, launched his latest collection entitled, “Spectrum Gala: A Feast for Crows,” to commemorate the eighth anniversary of his fashion label, Armada.

The fashion show gala launching the new collection was a feast for the senses, attended by numerous designers, models, celebrities, influencers, and Abello’s dearest friends, to mark a night down memory lane, commemorating the brand’s journey from its conception until now. The new collection pays homage to past collections, with tweaks made to fit current and future trends, and is like imagining “a dysfunctional family reunion that makes up the Armada family as a whole.”

The gala was presented by 1664 Blanc in partnership with Tribe Phnom Penh and Ab Studio, and directed by fellow Filipino fashion designer, Don Protasio.

Abello said he has spent most of his life invested in this brand, to the point where he now wholeheartedly equates the brand to his own identity. The show had everything that he wanted to present, from the visuals to the music, featuring a ballet performance by Svetlana Epifanova, a live performance of ‘Think of Me’ by Kimberly Bugo, the theme song from his favorite movie ‘Schindler's List,’ the soundtrack of his current favorite TV show, House of the Dragons, and spoken words from Revelations.

“I think that [Schindler’s List], there’s no other movie that shows how it is to be human in a very inhumane environment,” he said. “It gives you hope for a society where some good and kindness still exists among the chaos… My Schindler’s List is a reverse, actually, because, in the movie, this guy makes a list of the people he would save, but in my case, it’s a reverse. I have a list of people that have actually saved me.”

The majority of the guestlist was made up of Abello’s closest friends who have been there for him during his most difficult times. Yulia Khouri has known Abello for over a decade, ever since he first arrived in Cambodia, and even before he launched his brand. She remembered going to see his first fashion and immediately falling in love with his aesthetic.

“My all-time favorite is the very first look from the very first fashion show when the model came in with a ship on his head… I think that defines who Rey is, very bold, [someone who] doesn’t feel obliged to follow any rules, has made up his own rules, and is also very dramatic in everything he does,” she said. “That’s why I think as a friend, a designer, a creative, that’s what you look for, for somebody who isn’t afraid to make a statement.”

Abello agreed that the ship has now become something of a sigil for the brand and was proudly featured on the runway again for “A Feast for Crows.”

Many of the guests were also fellow designers, one of whom was Tiffany Doche, the designer for the brand Revivre. She said she has been a big fan of Armada since she moved to Cambodia from France about two years ago, and kept drawing her back to fashion show after fashion show was the strong storytelling element of each new collection.

“Every collection is unique. It’s a different story, and every design is always amazing and very interesting [in its] details and story, the concept [of each] collection. Every time, it’s always amazing,” she said.

After watching the show, Shasne Suleimanova said she had to hold back tears because fashion is so important to her and she was so inspired by what Abello had achieved. She said she especially loved seeing the theatrical elements embedded in the fashion show and said she is so thankful to Abello for being her inspiration.

“He created art pieces, masterpieces. It’s real art in fashion, and when you wear it, you really feel powerful,” said Suleimanova. “You feel like [part of the] Armada army… [Reynier] is an inspiration for me. He’s the person who has always inspired me, always encouraged me, and told me what I can improve on and how I can improve [in the first place]. That’s why he’s like my fashion father, I could say, in Cambodia.”

Mathew, a model in the fashion show, said he only started modeling about a year ago, so when he first heard about the unique concept of this runway, he was nervous and did not think he could deliver. However, he worked hard to study references to make sure that he would do the show properly and meet expectations. He added that he has always been a fan of Armada, but was especially impressed by how Abello gave the models freedom to show off the clothes in their own style, and not simply walk down the runway.

“Not only is the collection itself is very impressive, but [Reynier] allowed the models to really bring out their inner actors and actresses on the runway,” he said. “We’re not just walking. We’re literally performing on the runway, so that’s cool.”

Abello said he knows that when people think of Armada, they think of drama. With spoken words from Revelations, he said he wants to make sure that everyone understands that people who wear Armada are not wallflowers.

“Of course, we are about drama, we are about tailoring, we are about making a statement,” said Abello. “People who wear Armada don’t sit in a corner and expect to just melt into the background. People who wear Armada are always those who want to be noticed and want to show off. For me, fashion has to function. It’s either to hide or to show. And for my case, Armada is to show.”

The after-party included a sneak peek performance of local singer Sam Rocker’s latest album, and a set by DJ Brandon. As to what’s next for Abello, he said he will try to first get a week’s sleep before continuing on to his next project, but he teased that his favorite collection is still yet to come.

“Spectrum Gala: A Feast for Crows” is nothing short of spectacular Armada drama. Everyone who attended the show got everything they wanted and more.

For more information about Armada, check out the brand’s Facebook page (https://web.facebook.com/armadabyabello) or visit the Armada store located at the Factory Phnom Penh.  



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