By Vennette Lailani Seprado
Mara Chua has come a long way since finishing first runner-up at a popular local design competition show. Her name casually pops up in bridal directories and reviews, but if a bride is willing to do the work of combing through suppliers without being blinded by the glitz attached to more established names in the industry, then Mara is a rare gem.
Mara Chua is a Manila-based formal, evening and bridal wear designer who produces bespoke pieces that pushes the boundaries of traditional wedding styles whilst staying true to traditional methods.
Mara currently handles two lines, her eponymous bridal line and Opposites Attract Studio. “Opposites Attract Studio is a response to the current consumer practices of brides wanting something nice, well-fitted, and quicker without breaking the bank. Mara Chua Bride on the other hand, is the more traditional setup where the bride sits and bounces ideas with me to arrive at something truly one of a kind” she explains.
She further relates that brides who avail her services through her two separate lines have an underlying commonality. They have an attitude of being unapologetically modern, not very traditional, like to explore new and interesting ideas, and unafraid to let loose and have fun.
On bridal trends that are relevant to her work, Mara says, “I’m crazy about clean, modern unembellished to minimally embellished looks. It’s very reflective of the direction both Mara Chua Bride and Opposites Attract Studio are geared towards. I also do a lot of sculptural hand draping. I like allowing the fabric take center stage and convey poetry. I’m also leaning towards textured textiles like jacquard, billowy romantic vintage silhouettes ala Balenciaga and exploring ideas of tropical bridal wear with an island vibe that’s still luxe.”
Those who have had the privilege to collaborate with the designer often mention her ability to make a garment fit flawlessly. Even international clients who have blogged about their experiences with the designer have nothing but praise for her ability to shape and sculpt the body through her cuts and impeccable construction.
“I’m more than a bit obsessed with pattern and corsetry. I took my time developing my own way of having a signature – how your dresses hug the body. Our current pattern and corsetry is a result of three or so years of data gathering. I averaged client measurements to arrive at something more in tune with Filipina proportions.” In addition, she says “Fit is all about proportion and hug. It’s an exercise on how to create balance so that the body looks elongated and there are curves and they’re all in the right places.”
Mara Chua’s creations have a life of its own. She found her niche in the wedding industry by creating pieces that allow her to exercise her skills and incorporate her contemporary aesthetics of using prints, patterns, bold shapes and silhouettes that are highly technical. Her creations aren’t just bridal pretty. They’re often thought-provoking but most certainly unique and impeccably made.
Photos from Proudrad