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Getting to know rising fashion designer Bessie Besana

/ 02:11 AM February 01, 2018

Designer Mark “Bessie” Besana with a model in a recent runway show in Manila. CONTRIBUTED

NEW YORK — Mark “Bessie” Besana, an energetic and charismatic young engineer turned fashion designer based in Manila, is set to make a splash at this year’s New York Fashion Week Winter in February.

A civil engineering graduate of De La Salle University-Manila who nurtured a successful career in Philippines and Hong Kong, Besana made a very courageous decision to trade-in his blossoming career in the field to follow his dreams in fashion.


Changing career paths was a daring career move and one not without risks. Besana, who has always been a creative person, had conceded to the pressures of society and decided to pursue a “safe route,” which was Engineering, as his degree in college. Despite practicing his profession for eight years and finding success in Hong Kong, Besana felt empty and unfulfilled. What he was doing was not a career, but simply just a job in a field that he didn’t see himself working until retirement.

His involvement in the pageant and fashion world had kept him sane, and at some point, he started entertaining ideas about going headlong into fashion design.


Miss Universe 2015 Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach in custom Bessie Besana ensemble. CONTRIBUTED

Besana has already dressed up many Filipino celebrities and beauty queens, with Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach, Miss World 2013 Megan Young, Miss Universe Philippines 2011 Shamcey Supsup-Lee among his clientele.

He has showcased his numerous creations at various shows in Manila, and found success on the international stage as he debuted his designs in Vienna in 2016 and Stockholm in 2017.

This coming February 10 fashion event is being produced by Velzon Velez, together with three other Filipino designers. Besana’s collection is entitled “Reflection,” with designs bearing the theme of femininity and the ethereal.

With offers to do other fashion shows in Europe and Southeast Asia, 2018 looks to be a busy and fruitful year for Besana. His other projects in the pipeline include conceptualizing a gala show in the Philippines and launching a Ready-To-Wear (RTW) line of be affordable clothes for women.

Besana’s interest in fashion began when his friend Aleq took him to the College of St. Benilde to watch a graduation class fashion show. “I was amazed at how grand the production was! It was my first fashion show experience. I remember after the show, I met some of the student designers and befriended them.”

Some of Besana’s designs. CONTRIBUTE

Eventually, he accompanied the students at various industry events and it was then that he saw himself seamlessly integrating into the fashion world.

Today, 12 years later, he’s still friends with the same group of people, and they are the first ones who helped him with his new career.


Besana considers himself a risk taker. “But before any risk I take, I make sure it is calculated. Instead of seeing struggles, I see challenges that I need to overcome.”

Besana (seated) with models. CONTRIBUTED

His greatest fear was not getting clients. He faced this fear by properly curating his social media and presenting the designer that he was.

“With the power of technology, I was able to show the world that I am a designer and they can hire me to create their formal wear needs. In return, my friends and family started hiring me and then gradually started recommending me to their network of friends and family,” he relates.

In 2015, one of his last activities in Hong Kong, before moving back to the Philippines, was watching Lea Salonga’s concert for OFWs.

“I am always in awe when Lea sings, but when she sang ‘Reflection’ from ‘Mulan,’ it hit me. The song resonated with me so much as the lyrics seemed to be talking about my journey, that I started crying!

Besana’s fashion show in Sweden, well attended by Filipino and Swedish guests. CONTRIBUTED

“‘Who is the girl (pun intended) I see…’ I was at a loss as to who I was at the time. I was only existing not living, working a 9-6 job heading nowhere.

“’But somehow, I will show the world, what’s inside my heart, and be loved for who I am..’– fashion design is what I really wanted to do. I know that I made the right decision coming back to the Philippines and pursuing my heart’s desire.”

His collection for the coming show in New York features clean lines, feminine details, “a little bit of sexy and a whole lot ethereal.”

It will also showcase lacework, of which he’s very fond. “I feel it is befitting to give the title, ‘Reflection’ to a collection which will be shown in my favorite city that depicts the journey I went through and shows designs that mirrors me best.”

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TAGS: Bessie Besana, fashion, fashion design, Filipino fashion designer, Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach, Miss Universe Philippines 2011 Shamcey Supsup-Lee, Miss World 2013 Megan Young, New York Fashion Week Winter
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