A powder blue lace halter gown with a dramatic cape. That’s what Gucci heiress, Drusilla Gucci, wore as she graced the red carpet of the Cannes Film Festival 2023. It made rounds on the internet locally not just for its classic design but because it is made by the hands of a Filipino fashion designer.
Chona Bacaoco (Photo by Juan Padilla from @chonabacaoco/Instagram) and Drusilla Gucci (Photo from @mmmilano.thebrand/Instagram)
The creative behind the dress is Italy-based Ilongga fashion designer Chona Bacaoco of fashion house MM Milano the Brand. According to her, the experience of designing a piece for the socialite was both nerve-wracking and unexpected.
“I was praying na sana magustuhan niya (that she will like it),” Chona told Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “I didn’t expect 100 percent that she will wear the dress. I thought she might change her mind and go with other designers, but I was wrong. She was so kind… she appreciated my effort and time in creating a dress for her and she was very happy.”
As a self-taught designer, Chona creates pieces based on the lesson she learned from her mother. Still a dressmaker in Guimaras, her mom served as the inspiration behind the pieces she designs.
“I promised to my 10-year-old self that someday I will fly as high as I could and tell the world that my mother is the best dressmaker in the universe,” she said. “I put my heart and my soul into everything that I do. I value quality na isa sa pinakamahalaga natutunan ko sa nanay ko ( I value quality, which is one of the things I learned from my mother).”
According to Chona, she is known in Italy as “The Bomb.” Many of her designs play with her emotions. She creates pieces based on her emotions and what she sees in her client’s eyes. She then picks fabrics and colors that complement their gaze and the shade of their skin. The same creative process went into the making of her gown for Drusilla. The Gucci heiress has beautiful blue eyes and a great figure and wanted something simple, as per the designer. This led her to use a fine powder blue Italian embroidered lace fabric with sequins for the gown, playing with the theme “Less is More.” The piece is complemented by upcycled vintage buttons and accessories.
“Dressing Drusilla was the instrument na ginamit ng Panginoon para marinig at makita ng buong mondo ang aking kakayahan at talento bilang isang Filipino (Dressing Drusilla was the instrument God used so the world will hear and see my potential and talent as a Filipino),” Chona said. “It was a very proud moment when everyone was complimenting me including other designers that were also present during the Cannes Film Festival. I called my mom and I told her, “Nanay, we made it.’”
After Cannes Film Festival, Chona shared that she will be having a meeting with Drusilla and her mom for another collaboration. She is also working on collections for the upcoming Milan Fashion Week in September, where she will be sharing the stage with another Filipino master couturier, Michael Cinco. Needless to say, Chona will continue to raise the Philippine flag high with her creation on the international stage.