if you're on twitter, then you know this news has been trending for the past few days! and if you're on facebook, you must've seen all the videos of the shoot challenge posted all over friends' walls. you can download the episode because it has shown in the US, or wait till ETC's broadcast tomorrow at 8pm! here's a writeup, which appeared in phil star last wednesday, about how it all went down.
Another First For Bench:' America's Next Top Model' features Bench Body!
(The Philippine Star) Updated November 09, 2011 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines - All the stars aligned for us. Everything came together like destiny.” This was the heartfelt explanation of Bench stylist Noel Manapat as he retold the fascinating story of how Bench, the number one fashion brand in the Philippines, came to be featured on the immensely popular Hollywood TV production America’s Next Top Model cycle 17, in a once-in-a-lifetime shoot in Greece.
It began with a single orchestrator, a man with a classic success story named Michael Carandang. Born in the Philippines in 1979, he and his family migrated from Batangas to Indiana, USA, when he was 13 years old. Through hard work and sheer determination, Michael climbed a fast ladder to success as he went from production assistant for the Jerry Springer Show to producer of The Tyra Banks Show. In 2009, he and The Tyra Banks Show team won an Emmy award for Outstanding Talk Show, a symbolic fulfillment of both the American Dream and the Filipino Dream combined. All this landed him his present position as producer for Tyra’s current hit show America’s Next Top Model (ANTM).
Fast forward to mid-2011. Bench proprietor Ben Chan receives word that Michael Carandang was eager to feature Bench Body underwear on ANTM! Says Ben, “The participation of Bench in this upcoming episode of America’s Next Top Model is definitely one of the most memorable milestones in the 25-year history of our brand. ANTM has always captured the essence of the fashion world: energy, youthfulness, vitality, creativity, beauty, global appeal, and x-factor, which are all the things the Bench brand stands for, too. We are so honored to be part of the show, and we certainly hope it won’t be the last time.”
Carandang says, “I’m so proud to be part of having Bench Body as the first Filipino retail company to be featured on ANTM. Bench Body is an easy sell because it’s a great brand. I love and use Bench products — especially underwear and hair products. I have always considered Bench to be a global brand.”
The back story here involves another Filipino design talent, Dubai-based Michael Cinco, whose work was featured in the past season cycle 16. Michael Carandang was then eager to use a Filipino couturier, and took a chance on Cinco. The risk paid off — Tyra, the rest of the judges and the crew were all deeply impressed with Cinco’s incredible designs, which became the springboard for Carandang to bring in more Filipino talent and creativity. This is where Bench came into the picture.
Explains Carandang: “I have to thank Michael Cinco, who is such a good and humble person and the easiest person to work with, for introducing me to Ben Chan and Miguel Pastor (Bench architect). It was late night at work when I thought of reaching out to Bench Body for an upcoming photo shoot. I remembered Michael being part of the “Bench Uncut” underwear show so I asked him for their contact info.”
Things fell into place quickly. The shoot would be in Greece, and every aspect of the project would have to be done in utmost secrecy. Ben excitedly and hurriedly put together a team to fly to Greece and make it all happen. Celebrity TV host, model and longtime Bench underwear endorser Georgina Wilson was tapped to be the brand’s grand ambassador, and Noel Manapat was called in as fashion director. They packed hundreds of Bench underwear samples to give the show’s crew a near-infinite variety of merchandise to choose from.
“It was like this top secret operation,” remembers Georgina. “They called me up and when I got to the airport I didn’t even know where we were going! I couldn’t even tell my family or my boyfriend. So when I found out that it was America’s Next Top Model and it was going to be in Greece, I was just so happy and excited. And very, very proud that a Filipino brand had gone that far!”
Turns out Georgina has been an avid fan of the show since its inception, as well as an admirer of Tyra Banks. She says, “Tyra is super stunning in person, and very sharp and very smart, but also down-to-earth. Everything she says or does is well thought of.”
For the episode, the five semi-finalists were to model in their selected Bench Body underwear in extremely challenging positions while on an outdoor location shoot in Crete, Greece.
Regarding the episode, Georgina says, “All I can say is that production was very, very difficult. Taping the show was tough!”
“The timing was perfect. It was just the right place, right time, right people,” recounts Noel Manapat. “The key here is that Michael Carandang, though he grew up in the US, is still very close to his Filipino roots. He still regularly comes back to the country to stay in touch with where he came from. His love for his country is innate, and he speaks Tagalog so well. And so I think it has always been his mission to try to push Filipino talent in whatever way he can.”
Georgina adds, “The episode will truly showcase the Philippines as this creative, fashionable place where you can find really amazing talent.”
Michael Carandang agrees. “Our edge is our hospitality and our enthusiasm. We’re hard workers and we’re proud to be Pinoys!”
“It was such a validation,” Noel concludes. “To see a Filipino brand worn by these beautiful women for an international fashion reality program only proves that we truly live in a borderless world.”
And not to forget — what better place than Greece, which has celebrated the human form in its arts for thousands of years, to be the setting for this wild and merry mixed Greek salad of beautiful bodies, beautiful undergarments, and beautiful intentions, all tossed together for a beautiful rendezvous with destiny.
The America’s Next Top Model’s episode will air today on the CW Network in the USA and on Monday, Nov. 14 on the ETC Channel.
ANTM airs in the Philippines on the ETC Channel on Mondays, 8-9 p.m., with replays on Thursdays at 9-10 p.m., Fridays at 3-4 p.m., and Sundays at 7-7:45 p.m.