CERTAINLY, the designers were not in the mood for playing guessing games. The statement was a clear-cut, so to say.

Even during the first fitting, they did know what they wanted—a subtly elegant aura courtesy of luxurious (expensive) materials that would perfectly favor another dozen of Miss Cebu candidates.

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No gray area, indeed. All the designers had in mind was the inseparable combination of black and white during the evening gown portion of the 30th Miss Cebu coronation night on Jan. 12 at the Grand Ballroom of Waterfront Hotel and Casino, Lahug.

As expected, the audience gave several rounds of applause as each candidate appeared in their long gowns. Sure, they were quite appreciative during the ladies’ walk on stage, especially when first runner-up, Maria Gresa Lugo, strutted a princess gown by Harley Ruedas.

“Pili lang (Take you pick),” Lugo joked, referring to the portraits of the 2010 presidential hopefuls printed on her skirt, when fellow winners stared at the construction, minutes before they went on-air on ABS-CBN’s Maayong Buntag Kapamilya, the morning after their victory.

“I asked sir Harley about it, and he said he was only playing with his imaginative mind,” she continued.

True enough, Ruedas laughed it off, saying: “I just want to make something ‘politically whimsical’.”

And by the way, he has been successful with his imagination all these years—a ready-to-wear line distributed nationwide, a wardrobe of “lucky gowns” (last year’s Miss Cebu Kris Tiffany Janson wore his haute couture), and just recently, a statement evening wear.

From the look of things, some designers went romantic. William Manahan already assumed it. He gathered some tulle to create a floral-like pattern on the bust, accentuating it with beaded belt and a see-through Venus sleeve. In fashion, this kind of construction is considered romantic since it uses soft fabrics.

Or is it inspired by love life, William?

Dino Lloren seconded the motion by offering his layered taffeta silk, sewn in ruffles with slight gathering of beads while Marichu Tan-Geson (in her own design of oversized sleeves and pants) was very decisive in using black jersey and draped it around the bodice. Thank her—she knows draping saves the woman from unsightly curves.

Or if black seems too safe, white may just be the right alternative. Take it from Philipp Tampus, who knows how to put metallic appliqués on the right spot. He had bejeweled the neckline with sequins that followed every twirl of his tribal pattern.

Cary Santiago was the showstopper. Spectators were amused by how he “mechanized” the wrought iron straps that extended to the back of the white jersey dress.

Or you can be like Arcy Gayatin, who made a silent yet elegant entrance on stage in a draped velvet tunic (she designed herself) over a pair of black tights. After all, the black and white combination is just about it—amusement on one hand, mystery on the other.