Michi Calica-Sotto, bride’s best friend and fashion virtuoso, has built a solid reputation on designing classic wedding couture. Don’t be fooled by her shop’s name. Michi Calica Bridal and Home at The Oasis along Aurora Boulevard in San Juan is a gorgeous boutique that also carries evening gowns, dress-to-impress cocktail wear, glam bags, jewelry and a quirky mix of antique and modern home décor. No doubt this designer is one of the main players of the industry with more than ten years worth of experience under her belt. She earned a Carolina Herrera Scholarship while furthering her studies at the Art Institute of Seattle, granting her a fashion exhibit in Japan and Paris.
“I used to operate from my home until my husband gave me a deadline to open a store,” says Michi. She recalls having clients spilling over to the dining room, as well as the lanai and foyer of their New Manila home that her husband Jose, formerly a chef of Lavigne Bistro, set up an impromptu juice bar. “It was as if there was always a party going on in my house!” That was when she began offering ready-to-wear pieces, buying her time to attend to clients while other guests lingered to do some shopping and fitting while they wait their turn.
Walking into the shop immediately generates some “ooh-ing” from me. I expected the swanky bridal paradise to be clad in all white but to my surprise, there was a smorgasbord of colors: hot pink, lime green, lavenders, bright yellows and oranges. These are from her huge cocktail collection which is definitely worth a trip there. Lined up in one corner is a display of shoes, handmade evening bags with semi-precious stones, funky accessories, candle holders, photo frames, aromatherapy pots, and home accent pieces. I found the capiz shell clutch bags particularly unique and eye-catching; it sports a glam-ethnic vibe that makes a fine example of Pinoy craftsmanship, not to mention ingenuity. I imagine they make perfect presents for female friends and relatives abroad.
I also found myself mulling over some hand-crafted bangles on display, lured by its bright colors. Michi’s shop is also a haven for accessories, mind you, whether for the bride or the average female looking for rare finds. Another interesting variety is the Buffalo Horn bangles (P750), a stylish wrist-piece that has chic written all over it.
Scattered in various corners of the boutique are cool vintage chairs and furniture, some from Michi’s personal collection (and are unfortunately not for sale). “I got so many compliments on my home decor and furniture; I decided to make it a second attraction in the new boutique. After all, brides set up their homes as well.” While most of Michi’s furniture pieces are “curated” for her as of the moment, her future plans include designing some herself. Also on display are capiz resin bowls, antique-inspired mirrors, weathered-finish nesting tables and masterpieces from chief local artist Lao Lianben.
Towards the back of the store, as if to save the best things for last, is a showcase of Michi’s design forte: elegant wedding gowns in all their white glory. Browsing through the collection, I see one dream dress after another. Ivory-colored satin, flowing silk taffetas, tastefully ruffled corsets, intricate floral detailing, splashes of gold embroidery, delicate lace—the makings of a bride’s couture fantasies are here. “I like making classic themes ‘snap, crackle, and pop,’” says this designer. “I enjoy injecting clever, details in my pieces enough to merit a ‘where did get this wonderful dress?’ reaction from strangers who come up to the wearer of my piece.” Michi also offers bejeweled headdresses and hair accessories for the special day, along with custom-made handcrafted bags to match the gown.
For brides-to-be, Michi’s trendy one-stop shop is mecca; for everyone else, a fashion destination. Not only are unique pieces in store, the shopping experience is as delightful and homey as can be.
Photos by Kris Alcantara; model photos courtesy of Michi Calica
I’m looking for Michi Calica Bridal and Home.