AS early as her high school days in Cagayan de Oro (CDO), Bea Bianca Mackey designed clothes for school pageants and extracurricular activities—an auspicious start, followed by a series of dramatic events that shaped who she is today as a person and as a fashion designer.
Under her former name, she learned the ropes of the business in CDO for 10 years. She then honed her craft in the Middle East for another 10 years before finally practicing in Manila with her new brand, HOBB, or House of Bea Bianca.
“For the past six years, I have been dressing up celebrities and socialites for public and private events. But my big break was in Mars, the GMA talk show where I was tasked to dress up Camille Prats and Suzi Abrera,” Bea Bianca recalls.
Since then, she has dressed up the so-called ASAP Birit Queens, such as Angeline Quinto, Jona, Klarisse and Morissette. (“They don’t only belt out big voices but they also make my creations as beautiful as their melodies.”) Her other favorite creations were worn by Kim Chiu and Yam Concepcion for Love Thy Woman; Aiko Melendez and Zsa Zsa Padilla for Wild Flower; The Clash Seasons 1 to 3 champions Golden, Jhong, Thea, Jessica and Jenny; and Rhian Ramos for The One That Got Away. Vina Morales is a personal client, as well.
“Most of the time, I tailor-fit the apparel for the specific personas of the celebrities, although there are some last-minute pullouts that I also cater to from time to time. Either way, I am very happy to see my creations come to life on TV and print, and that serves as my way, too, of documenting my creations,” Bea Bianca explains.
The fee she charges for designing depends on the complexity of work to be done on the dress, starting at a humble P5,000 for pullouts and P10,000 for made-to-order. But, she emphasizes, everything is negotiable under the blue sky. She’s just grateful that stylists such as Lianne Locsin, Kevin Cusi, Gian Laxamana, Ivor Sta Maria, Fria Solis, Rodel Briñas and Kimmer Ferrer have trusted her since Day 1.
What are the differences/challenges in making clothes for TV, gowns for pageants, and outfits for real people?
“The challenge comes in varying degrees as well as the difference in the effort of putting the pieces together, but the passion is definitely the same. I always see to it that I put my best foot forward in making my label worth remembering, regardless of who wears it. I am just so fortunate to have a team who shares the same vision.”
Bea Bianca’s latest undertaking is the GMA rom-com First Yaya, with rising star Sanya Lopez as Melody Reyes, the nanny to the children of President Glenn Acosta (Gabby Concepcion). Miss Universe 2016 Top 6 Maxine Medina plays Lorraine Prado, Yaya Melody’s rival. Also in the cast are beauty queens Thia Thomalia, Miss Eco International 2018, one of the president’s guards, and Pilar Pilapil, Miss Universe Philippines 1967, as Blesilda “Blessie” Acosta, the president’s domineering mother.
As a simple woman and nanny in the show, Sanya is usually clad in plain clothes and yaya uniforms. But during scenes depicting formal affairs, she gets to be dolled up in Bea Bianca’s flowing finery. Yaya Melody gets her magical moments wearing a white serpentina see-through top gown Korean crepe stretch bottom, with one-sided sleeves and applique leaves, with Japanese chalk beads, ceramic crystals and half pearls; and a midnight blue corseted top with a big bow, and flowy bottom with high slit in a Gucci fabric glittered gown.
As a rookie kontrabida, Maxine as Lorraine goes high glam in a black modern serpentine Filipiniana gown made of callado embroidery beaded lace see-through top with ceramic crystals and metallic stretch bottom; and a golden modern Filipiniana gown, made of see-through callado sequined top, with lace 3D appliques and Japanese beads with crystals, and flowy metallic bottom.
“As much as I would have loved to meet Maxine and Sanya, the circumstances are still not entirely safe. I rely on professional stylists who are very dedicated to their craft. They send me measurements and pegs so I could create my deliverables according to what they need. In fact, oftentimes I send them more than the number of what they need, so they would have plenty of options,” says Bea Bianca, who also dresses up Miss Asia Pacific International 2018 Sharifa Akeel and Miss Supranational 2013 Mutya Datul, as well as pageant doyennes Hemilyn Escudero Tamayo and Peachy Veneracion in real life.
Like most of her peers, the pandemic lockdown has given her more time for introspection. “I have more time thinking and rethinking my design options for my pending projects and the ongoing concepts I am working on,” Bea Bianca reflects. “I am more prayerful now because faith is one of the most powerful aspects I can hold on to, being an independent artist here in Manila. My clients are coming back and events are taking form. But because things are still uncertain, I can only pray that we can get through this the soonest.”