Nadine Lustre did not hold back in her latest album, Wildest Dreams. It’s the first time a Filipino artist has ever attempted to make a visual album and no one else could have done it better than the ~aesthetic queen~ herself.
Back in May 2020, Nadine sent me a DM saying we should shop for clothes for her music video shoots. Curious, I asked: “ShootSSSS??” As she was working on her new album, she quipped, “Nuff of that mediocre stuff,” obviously wanting to do more things outside of her comfort zone. The last time I dressed her up was during the premiere of Making MEGA in Rio back in February, and because the mall shows and other shoots we were planning to do got COVID-canceled, it was pretty exciting having to work on something while being stuck in isolation. She set a meeting with us, her creative team, and we began brainstorming on what the album and her music persona would look like.
Nadine is very hands-on. She likes to be involved in everything from choosing the colors of her shoe lace to what type of fabric were the designers going to use. So, I’m thankful that she entrusted majority of the decision-making to me. The visual album, directed by Zoopraxi Studio, was a conscious journey towards attaining the highest version of yourself through love, and the details on every outfit played a huge role. I’d love to discuss more than 50 of those looks, but that deserves its own spotlight on another story.
As a self-confessed art history geek, one of my major influences are Renaissance art. But I knew her vision was one that had to be told from a Filipino point-of-view even through the clothes, which is why I immersed myself in our own culture and folklore for weeks.
THE OCCASIONAL NIGHTMARES
An attempt to shake up the culture will never not be important, but even riskier is the fact that our resources were limited. First thing I thought was, “who even makes collections now? How can we even make this huge ass project happen?”
Much to my dismay, I was turned down by a few designers due to the fact that they didn’t have fabric supplies, some discontinued their ateliers, and were stuck in the province. But the universe is always on our side because more than 30 designers and brands agreed to work on this project.
Logistics-wise, our wildest dreams became a nightmare with one package from Singapore being stuck in customs for a month, a look shipped from China that we couldn’t track, and a single car to pull out everything from different parts of Manila and provinces for less than three weeks. It was just three of us in my team but luckily, the odds were in our favor.
DEEPENING THE ROOTS
As tempting as it was to take inspiration from Western musicians who paved the way, I had to find my way back into our culture. It made me realize how many stories from pre-colonial Philippines still had to transpire into mainstream consciousness. I researched mostly on deities like Dalikamata, Maria Makiling to name a few from Filipino mythology, and the ornaments and fabrics that our different tribes wore.
My favorite was probably creating our version of Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus painting. Not only because it’s my favorite art piece ever, but I was hugely inspired by Mayari (goddess of war) and Dian Masalanta (goddess of love). Instead of Venus covering herself, she was holding a sword, wearing a clam bra with seashell strings (hinting on Nadine’s past self that existed in Atlantis), a handsewn skirt that’s similar to the bahag, and adorned in brass bangles made by the T’Boli tribesmen from Lake Sebu. That’s just one example of the many stories behind each look that made its way into the MV.
When all was said and done, we had to sit down and watch months of hard work unfold. The 33-minute long visual album was finally done and the team had a private viewing a few weeks before it was launched. I was speechless. Mostly because I was crying tears of joy and realizing how it was an honor to play a part in Wildest Dreams with the most hard-working and talented creatives in the game. It felt amazing knowing an all-Filipino cast could produce something as breath-taking.
Even though the pandemic struck us hard, we were lucky enough to be able to give a platform to industries that were hit—including fashion. It was a mix of different designers both old and new, each having their own stories to tell, and some even calling it the best decision they’ve made in 2020. Wildest Dreams was proof that we can do it too. And with Nadine’s vision being self-actualized, at last, we can collectively say: “I give myself permission to follow my dreams.”
Photo & Animation by Ed Enclona