When he first launched his blog back in 2004, Bryan Yambao didn’t expect that he’d go on to be wedged seasonally between A$AP Rocky and Anna Wintour. In fact, the former web developer started bryanboy.com to keep friends and family up-to-date on a trip he was taking to Moscow. Afterward, enjoying the outlet, he pivoted to writing short fashion reviews and posts about his own outfits from his home in Manila. By word of mouth, it took off — people loved his tone (described as “hysterically camp” by the Sydney Morning Herald). The website has since shuttered, but Yambao (who’s still known widely as Bryanboy) has more than 5 million followers across Instagram and TikTok and in 2022 was named editor-in-chief of Perfect magazine. Over the years, he’s been able to closely observe the front-row ecosystem. He’s seen influencer eras shift and change (from “Blair Waldorf clones,” to Russian tsarinas, to Instagram stars like Chiara Ferragni and Aimee Song, to the current “K-pop celebrity situation”). He’s also watched his fellow bloggers go from novelty items to industry staples. Here, some of his most memorable fashion-show moments.
First Fashion Show (Standing)
Marjan Pejoski, London
I managed to get a ticket from a sales associate at a store in London called Kokon to Zai who I kind of knew at the time. There was no seat assignment, so I said, “I don’t have a seat.” They said, “You’re standing.” I was like, “Okay, where do I stand?” It turns out I was in front of the photographer pit, so I’m in the background of every single thing that was shot.
First Fashion Show (Sitting)
Marc Jacobs, New York
The first New York fashion show I was ever invited to by a designer. Marc Jacobs read my blog at the time and decided to name a bag after me. He flew me from the Philippines to attend his show and see it on the runway. Since we’d never actually met in person, I was nervous. Meeting him was kind of like meeting a god.
The Laptop Stunt
Dolce & Gabbana, Milan
It was my first season in Milan. They’d invited a few bloggers: me, Tommy Ton, Scott Schuman, and Garance Doré. They put laptops on our seats. It was clearly a PR stunt. Looking back, it was their way of making a statement that they welcome and invite bloggers. But Anna was two seats away from me, Michael Roberts was on the other side, and neither of them were talking to me.
An Especially Special Coat
Dolce & Gabbana, Milan
It was the first extravagant garment I received from a major designer. I was staying at my friend’s dorm, and a messenger delivered it. I wore it in Milan, then Cathy Horyn kind of threw some shade at me in the Times for scoring a gift from the brand.
A Hat Well Suited for the Weather
Marc Jacobs, New York
That hat was a gift from ssense.com. I was like, It’s winter in New York. I might as well wear my amazing Margiela fox-fur hat. The pants are Zara, and the sweater is Uniqlo. Looking back, I regret a lot of the things I’ve worn. But I had the freedom to be crazy and individual. Nowadays, I’m an uptight bitch. Put me in a Chanel jacket, done.
Taking a Selfie With A$AP Rocky
Jeremy Scott, New York
A$AP Rocky is one of the most fashionable guys I’ve met. Of course, he’s not like a friend, but I see him at the shows. When it comes to celebrities, I cannot do small talk. It’s like, “Hi, we’re seat neighbors,” picture, done.
The Chanel Supermarket
Chanel created a supermarket for their show. I took three mineral-water bottles and two pastille candy cases. I wish I stole more! But they were inspecting bags. Some people were hiding things underneath their coats. I was like, Why did I not think of that? That was the season I first met Rihanna. I have pictures of her kissing me on the cheek. She recognized me.
Valentino Event, Paris
Ben Stiller came up to me and said, “Oh my God, Bryan, we were researching for Zoolander 2 and you came up in my research and I’m very, very impressed.” He was complimenting me like no tomorrow. Of course, it’s flattering, but I was like, Really? Me? Why? Still, it’s a compliment. I’ll take it.
His First Front Row With Work
Public School, New York
This was one of my first shows after getting plastic surgery — I fixed my teeth and my nose. As a person who puts himself out there, I get self-conscious — it’s human nature. I realized, Okay, maybe it’s time for me to start modifying myself.
Walking In With the ‘Asia 100’
Prabal Gurung, New York
We have a big group chat with a lot of influencers; we call it “the Asia 100.” Prabal Gurung gifted these T-shirts to us, and me and Tina Craig had this idea — “Let’s all wear it and walk in together.”
Saying Hello to Azealia Banks
We met in Florence a long time ago at a Luisaviaroma event. It was 2 a.m.; my husband and I were trying to sleep, but the room next door was so loud. I knocked on the door, and Azealia opened it. When I saw her, I was like, Oh shit! I’m not going to tell her off! I said, “We’re trying to sleep next door,” then she was like, “Do you want to come inside for a drink?”
Palling Around With Derek Blasberg
J.W. Anderson, London
Derek is an old fixture! He’s like the furniture. He’s a chandelier! Every time I’m at the fashion shows, I still feel like I don’t belong there. You’re there in your seat, you’re surrounded by famous people, beautiful people, nepo babies, designers. And then there’s me.
COVID Fashion Week
Michael Kors, Milan
This is where I first heard about COVID — at a Michael Kors event on the second-to-last day of Milan Fashion Week. People were panicking: Are they going to put Milan on lockdown? A lot of American editors rushed to fly back to the U.S. that evening because they didn’t want to be locked down in Europe. It was a very, very scary time because of the uncertainty.
Debuting a Beloved Trench
One of my favorite looks from Loewe has got to be this blue trench coat. The more a brand appreciates you, the more they are willing to give you access to runway samples. If it’s available, if a celebrity’s not wearing it, you can have it. But if you’re not as appreciated, they’ll put you in a commercial sample.
A Heart-to-Heart With Michelle Yeoh
Dior Haute Joaillerie Event, Italy
We were chatting for 15 minutes. She was really curious about who I was and my work, and we talked about her movie. It’s funny; I saw maybe three Asian people at the Dior event. So I was kind of like, “Oh, hi, fellow Asian” — who was an Oscar-winning Best Actress.
Taking Down a Protester
I was sitting there watching the show, taking my runway videos, and this animal-rights protester ran up. I was like, “Okay, where is the security? You’re Hermès; you’re supposed to have security. Think of how many billionaire ladies who lunch are here!” So I jumped up, grabbed it, sat on the sign, because I didn’t want to cause commotion, and pretended nothing happened.
More From the spring 2024 fashion issue
Independent Designers Are Hanging On by a Thread
Julianne Moore’s Dangerous Housewives
Bryanboy Hasn’t Missed a Fashion Week in Over a Decade