“Time is luxury, and this is its skilful and artful expression – the indulgence of creating something tantalizingly unique and meticulously crafted.” This quote by Carmen appears in the latest look book from designer Bea Valdes. Carmen has been an avid supporter of the Filipino creative since the days of CoutureLab, the online home she founded for unique products with a story to tell and tradition behind them, and the designer’s 2018 collection continues to celebrate her obvious dedication to craftsmanship as well as community.
Born and raised in Manila, Beatrice 'Bea' Panlilio-Valdes hails from a family with a history of fine jewelry making that spans three generations. She became fascinated with embroidery and embellishment from an early age, and after studying the creative arts and industrial and interior design, Bea launched her first collection, a selection of embroidered evening bags, named in 2005 as “This year’s must have” by Vogue.
Today, Bea’s distinctive embroidery talents extend to her fine jewelry collections, as well as her beaded accessories and objects, and art installations. Taking inspiration from various cultures and countries, including her native Philippines, and sourcing materials, patterns and ideas from around the world, she combines innovative designs and traditional Filipino embroideries and beading with cutting-edge colors and textiles, producing pieces that are widely regarded as ‘art to wear’.
Bea still calls the Philippines home. For her, the most important part of her entire enterprise has always been the people, and she works with a community of local artisans in her Manila-based studio in order to preserve Philippine craftsmanship and design, as well as oversee production. "Skilled artisans, predominantly female, work in tranquil clusters,” said the designer. “Everybody has to be literate in what we’re making. That way, everyone can complete a piece on their own; it brings a sense of ownership."
Her 2018 collection features crystals and semi-precious stone-encrusted bags, embroidered glass drop necklaces, distinctive neckpieces, hand-embroidered vests and sash belts swathed in beads. Designed as keepsakes with a life beyond a season, Bea hopes that many will be passed on as heirlooms.