With his viral makeup transformations and the avant-garde costumes he created for beauty queens, Paolo Ballesteros is clearly emerging as a royalty in the country's drag culture. It's no wonder that he was selected to be the host of Drag Race PH.
The actor is slaying the role from the get-go. In Drag Race PH's latest teaser, Paolo channeled what appears to be a Pinoy version of RuPaul's iconic drag look—with big hair and plump lips—and matched it with a striking ornate gown.
But what takes the cake is where his garment takes inspiration from. More than providing Paolo with a look that's glamorous in all ways, the gown was a unique representation of Manila, the vibrant capital of the Philippines.
Job Dacon, the creator of this masterpiece, affirmed this during a quick chat with PhilSTAR L!fe. He said, "My inspiration, quite literally, is our gleaming capital, the city of Manila. Not only does it have terrific sights, but also holds a huge melting pot of culture and history."
He continued, "The dress is made of thick silk that was printed with our customized digital pattern of iconic Manileño landmarks and national symbols like the Sampaguita and the Philippine Eagle." This is in addition to the Rizal monument and Manila City Hall Clock Tower printed on the gown's bodice and skirt.
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The dress is a significant addition to Job's portfolio not only because it adds Paolo to his celebrity clientele but more so, it associates him with a show that's famous worldwide.
"I was honestly overjoyed when I got the news. Sir Paolo has been (and still is) a role model not just for me, but for everyone at the studio as well," Job recalled. "And the fact that we'll be dressing him up for such a globally-acclaimed show made us so psyched for what's to come considering a lotta ups and downs happened the past few years."
It took Job and his team five days to finish the gown, and it was a breeze with Paolo being "very hands-on with the project."
The designer elaborated, "We went through several silhouettes and prints and sifted out what we thought would look and fit best with the theme. Also a special shoutout to the stylist and sister from another mister, Yannie Tui. Her knowledge of drag and finessed tweakings really made the dress come to life."
This isn't the first time that the Pinoy designer has created a gown for a celebrity. And just like any of his creations, he made sure to make Paolo's gown uniquely Job Dacon.
"Well, generally speaking, our studio's aesthetic tends to skew on the surrealistic side. Something that is tangible but also looks like an escape from the mundane," he said. "This particular look has this trippy, acid-induced Manila sunset vibe juxtaposed over such a classic silhouette."
Apart from Paolo's Drag Race PH dress, Job is the creative genius behind Nadine Lustre's silicone mermaid set for a magazine cover released last February and her sultry scorpion gown that she wore at a fashion ball in June.
Job's studio also took part in the promotion of Anne Curtis's Luv-Anne comeback concert as the designer of her uPVC skirt in one photoshoot.
Not only that, but he also created the intricate Belle-inspired costume of Miss Universe Philippines 2021 Bea Gomez, which she used in a campaign for a cosmetics brand.
Last but not the least, another notable item on Job's collection is Yassi Pressman's beaded costume for her #YassiOnAir dance video.