Featured Designer: Gabbie Sarenas, on the Debut Gown and Afterparty Dress

Twenty-three year-old Gabbie Sarenas hasn’t even graduated from her fashion design course at the School of Fashion and the Arts. And yet she already has clients, celebrity and non-celebrity alike. In fact, her celebrity clients include bag designer Amina Aranaz-Alunan, Ciara Sotto-Oconer, Sitti and Valerie Concepcion. Her designs have graced the red carpets of Metwrowear, and have been seen on various publications and TV shows such as ASAP.

Debut Ideas talked with Gabbie on her ideas for a lovely debut gown, the use of prints in a design, what to wear for the afterparty, her being a young designer, and why a fresh (and well-trained) talent like her is someone debutantes should not be afraid to tap.

1. Since when did you start studying fashion? What led you to do so?

gabbie2I started studying fashion last 2008. I enrolled in a certificate course at the School of Fashion & the Arts. I’ve been asking my mom persistently that I just try it out because ever since I love fashion. Then one thing lead to another and I upgraded to the Bachelor’s Degree of Fashion Design & Marketing Management. I am now in my 3rd year but I will graduate on May 2011. Studying fashion has always been my dream; something I thought was unattainable because, back then, I thought that I could never have a career with it. But know, I’m living my dream and I’m so lucky to be studying and doing what I love.

I have always loved fashion since I was young but I didn’t know it then. I guess it was innate not only because I’m a girl but I like dressing up. When I was in high school, I did styling for friends and didn’t know it was called “styling”. I guess it was a “labor of love” because I love it when friends like what I mix and match for them. I also did technical flats on the back of my math notebook and didn’t know it was called back then. It was just something I did because I like it.

2. Are you taking in clients for bespoked pieces? Are you selling RTW?

Yes I start from scratch – from sketches to production. I don’t do RTW as of the moment because I would like to concentrate on the made-to-order part but I would like to extend when I establish my MTO business. It will be quite different from the glamorous pieces that I offer.

I started taking in clients back in 2009. I don’t have an atelier so I meet my clients at the malls or at school to take their measurements.

3. What is your design philosophy? How would a debutante feel wearing your creations?

gabbie3I want my designs to have a grasp of the past while embracing the present and the future. I would like the debutant to feel mature in my designs since being 18 is like a crossover from being a girl to a lady. I want her to feel like she’s the queen of the night because that’s what I aim for. I want her to feel confident and beautiful in my designs.

4. Why should a debutante go for a young designer like you (versus a graduate or an established designer)?

I think that a debutant should go for a young designer like me because I offer quality pieces for an affordable price. I always take into consideration their personality, style and budget. Plus, I think my designs are perfect for those glamorous debuts because they’re romantic and princess-like.

5. Do you think the after-party cocktail dress should be in line with the debut theme (color scheme and all)?

I think, for the after-party, it shouldn’t be in line with the theme so that the debutant can have another style and another dress for a not-so-strict part of the debut. It would be rather unique if she chooses to have another theme for her after-party cocktail dress that is not in line with the theme.

6. We noticed you have printed designs. Why should a debutante embrace printed/ patterned party dress?
Patterns and prints are playful and sexy at the same time. As I said, the debut is a crossover of a girl being a lady. The prints and patterns can bring out the youthfulness in the debutant yet tell everyone that she’s not a child anymore. If, for example, the debutant wore a one colored gown for the formalities, the prints would be a break from the strictness of the event.

7. Would you advise a debut gown that transforms into a cocktail dress or should these be separate?

I think she should have a separate one. Like for the first part it could be a princess-like as possible then for the after-party it could be short and sexy so as she can move and dance without the thought of someone stepping on the train of her gown (and taking out that part). But if she’s in a really tight budget, it would be okay if she gets something that separates/ transforms.

8. What would be your dream theme for a debut gown and what would you design?

My dream theme for a debut gown would be a balloon gown or free flowing gown with ruched detail and of course, I’ll make it backless. 🙂 I want to make it formal & princess-like. In addition to that, I want her to be youthful, elegant and sophisticated by not making it all sexy.

For the after party, I want to design something short, sweet & sexy. I’ll make it backless again with some details at the back like bead “backlace” (necklaces at the back).


Visit Gabbie’s website for more on her work:

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2 thoughts on “Featured Designer: Gabbie Sarenas, on the Debut Gown and Afterparty Dress

  1. thank you debut ideas for the feature 🙂
    like other girls, i also dreamt of the perfect debut when i was 18! 🙂 i also designed my own attire for the “debut” but it was not a formal gown but a simple fashionable young attire for my mcdo debut! it’s a great alternative for young ladies who are not children but also not yet women 🙂

    more power to debut ideas! 🙂

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