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How Designer Ryan Chris Turned “Aspirations” Into A Reality

The celebrated fashion designer finds more courage as he reaches his 15th anniversary in the industry.

Fashion designer Ryan Chris is destined to be where he is now. He is meant to make beautiful clothes. The superlatives aren’t for the flair, it is evident in the creations that carry his signature. It is undeniable after the recent success of his fashion show Aspirations and Inspirations, which showcased over 100 looks that include the most creative suits in playful patterns, inventive cuts, and contrasting textures. His couture gowns promise memories of glamorous nights, grand occasions, and big weddings. 

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Ryan Chris' Aspirations and Inspirations Fashion Show

Almost 15 years ago, Ryan Chris—the brand and the designer—was but a pipe dream. Busy serving his local church community, five years after graduating advertising, Ryan was far from packed fashion shows and back-to-back client appointments. He says of that time, “I was a communications director. We would handle the church website and ensure the song lyrics flashed properly on the screen during the service. My classmates back then were career-oriented and earning a lot. I realized I had no life back then. I prayed hard, I asked God for a sign. I was hoping to go back to an ad agency. It just struck me that I wanted to be a fashion designer.” 

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Ryan Chris' Aspirations and Inspirations Fashion Show

Two weeks after Aspirations and Inspirations at The Hilton Manila, where I first encountered his designs and models including celebrities like Tom Rodriguez, I met Ryan at Jones All Day. I couldn’t get a hold of Ryan right after the show attended by wedding industry professionals, loyal customers, members of the press, and fans of Ryan—all clamoring for this attention and wishing him congratulations. 


When he entered the brunch place, I noticed that he was wearing his design. It was an olive green suit with a shirt that bore a tropical pattern. He was carrying suits to be hand-delivered to a client after our interview. Before our meeting, I visited his atelier in Mandaluyong. I was greeted by a staff preoccupied with beading a wedding dress due in a couple of weeks while accommodating other appointments. Racks and racks of clothes almost reached the ceiling—for rent, for sale, or in progress for another set of orders. I shared some of my picks on Instagram Stories which immediately gathered Likes. I put a hold on a rich blue pant and skirt suit set with feather details on the cuffs and ordered a pink satin shirt on the spot.

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Ryan Chris' Aspirations and Inspirations Fashion Show

Ryan admitted that being a fashion designer was always on his mind. He recalls a childhood where clothing catalogs would be his fairy-tale books, of getting noticed by a teacher for a school project design, and the influence of his tailor grandfather and a seamstress grandmother. “I would watch fashion shows with one hand on the television dial, so I can immediately switch to another channel if someone walked in.” The shame that comes from outdated stereotype dictated that Ryan keep these aspirations hidden, but gem stones don’t lose their shine even in the dark. 


The Lord’s sign that Ryan prayed for came in the form of a cash gift his grandmother gave him for his birthday. He used it to buy a gown for rental. In a month, he turned that PHP5,000 into P12,000. Ryan first envisioned his career to be about rental shops all over the metro, but different plans transpired. In 2019, Ryan got his next sign, a commission for a fashion show. He had hesitations at first, “I was afraid. I’m not equipped because I didn’t go to fashion school. It’s just all self-taught, but my sewers were surprised when I was able to discuss the construction of the fabric, so I went for it.”


A few other shows here and a pandemic later where Ryan Chris went into designing PPEs for doctors and medical professionals, Ryan is far from where he came from, with many more miles ahead. Last year, he staged a fashion show during his birthday month, in reverence to the gift that started it all,and signaled the momentum he is riding post-pandemic. In every show, Ryan makes sure it is for the benefit of a charity organization. This year, he partnered with Bahay Aruga. “It’s my way of giving back and at the same time, celebrating life because it takes courage to pursue your dreams.” 

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Ryan Chris' Aspirations and Inspirations Fashion Show

Another way that Ryan wants to give back is through mentoring. “I’m planning to stage a fashion show featuring young, amateur designers from all over The Philippines. I will call it Spotlight,” Ryan says. “I want designers to encourage designers to be courageous. It took me almost a decade to get courage. I want to show them that even if it’s scary, it’s worth it.” 


Photo Courtesy of Ryan Chris