Stepping out in style

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Photographs of stars stepping out of the plane and onto the airport tarmac are seared into the collective memory.


The world crawling out of the ruins of the Second World War in the 1950s received three things: widespread commercial air travel, glamorous clothing, and beautiful people to use both.

Photographs of stars stepping out of the plane and onto the airport tarmac are seared into the collective memory: think Jackie Kennedy in her pink suit on that fateful day in Dallas, Marilyn Monroe greeted by flashbulbs at London Airport (now Heathrow), or else Elizabeth Taylor, in a fur coat, smiling at an airport at her husband Mike Todd (who was tragically killed in an aircraft himself). While air travel was once reserved for the very wealthy (which was why high society was once nicknamed the jet set), it has been largely democratized these days, thank goodness, but the ways of the wealthy when they boarded has gone up in smoke. While sisters Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret boarded planes in tailored suits, or large, swishing skirts, paired with matching hats and gloves in the 1950s, the infamous long-haul flights these days attract people in loungewear: think trackpants and flip-flops, even in first class.

Fashion designer Francis Libiran is no stranger to the ways of the rich and beautiful. He’s known for his fantastic runway and red carpet creations, even being tapped by supermodel Tyra Banks to create a dress for her. Mr. Libiran also made headlines earlier in 2017 when he married his partner Christian Mark Jacobs, whom he met while traveling in Europe. For work and leisure, Mr. Libiran has zoomed off in many planes, and High Life was quite surprised when the trim and trimly dressed fashion designer said that his favorite traveling outfit was, “A T-shirt and shorts,” he said while laughing. “I don’t want to dress up. I guess, dressing up every day to go to work, it’s a change for me,” he said. “I just want to wear something very comfortable, very easy to wear.” When traveling, or on vacation, he doesn’t want to get up in the morning thinking about what to wear. “I just want to wake up and just grab my shirt and shorts and head out of the hotel.”

His travel essentials include a pair of shorts, black and white shirts, a tank top, swimwear and jeans. “That’s it.” We asked him about what he was wearing on his most memorable trip, and he said, “A nice pair of jeans, nice sneakers, a jacket: as simple as that.”

When asked why he chooses the easy route when dressing for travel, he replied: “It’s tiring. It’s something when you get away from work, when I’m on the plane, my mind is somewhere else. It’s for me to detach from what I’m doing on a daily basis. That 10-hour flight: it’s my me-time. It’s very sacred.”

To See and Be Seen

In the novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of The West by Gregory Maguire,a retelling of L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz we’re first introduced to Galinda (who later becomes Glinda, as in The Good Witch) as she arrives at university by train. The wealthy but provincial young lady immediately feels shabby upon seeing the more sophisticated outfits of the other new arrivals, but consoles herself with the thought, “The overdressed traveler betrays more interest in being seen than in seeing, while the true traveler knows that the novel world about her serves as the most appropriate accessory.”

That’s nice and all, Galinda, but you weren’t Miss International 2016, whose job it is to be seen. Kylie Verzosa, the 20-something who snagged the crown last year in Japan, told High Life how she wanted to be seen while traveling. “I like something comfortable, but you know, still stylish,” she said. “I would sometimes sacrifice a bit of comfort just for style.”

We have to remember that Ms. Verzosa is a millennial, reaching maturity in the age of Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram, and in this world, more likes might mean better chances at winning at life. “Girl, pictures!” said Ms. Verzosa when asked why she chooses to look her best before, during, and after a flight. “But the thing is, you always want to look good. You want to look good in the pictures you take. For me, pictures are souvenirs.”

”I always take a comfy top. Showing a little bit of skin is okay, so I show a little bit of leg. I wear a lot of skirts, or shorts, something comfortable while walking,” she said about her travel essentials.

Ms. Verzosa talked about what she was wearing the day she traveled to Japan to win the Miss International pageant. “Instead of worrying about what I was going to wear, I was psyching myself for it. ‘Kylie, you’re going to get there; you’re going to win that crown. You only have one duty: and that’s to get the crown.” We bet it was easier for her to think that she was going to win when she stepped out of the plane in yellow, wrapped in a pink fur coat, and in black high heels “with ribbons on them”. “Girl, I looked cute.”

Okay, so Ms. Verzosa’s approach to traveling outfits isn’t that conventional, what in the post-9/11 world’s directives to take off your shoes and belts at security. “To each his own, and whatever your style is, it is what it is, but fashion is always fun.” Joseph L. Garcia