I think it was Anna Wintour in the “canonical” The September Issue who said, “People are frightened of fashion and that because it scares them or it makes them feel insecure, they put it down.” I was one of those people. I look back and I see fashion as an intimidating world—an otherworldly realm I’ve never wished or even thought of penetrating.
I was a lifestyle journalist for The Manila Standard when I started getting assignments to attend showings of brands and designers for the Philippine Fashion Week. My first few shows were a test of patience. But it was that Michael Cinco show that got me entranced with the whole notion of “fashion as an artistic expression”. The poetry of the Cinco’s creations walking down the lacquered runway, matched with Ariel Lozada’s masterful choice of music and direction that got me hooked.
Not long after, I was hired to write for my favorite magazine as a college student, Garage. I knew I was more than just a writer making profiles on cover celebrities. My interest grew bigger and my desire to get into the world of fashion styling got stronger and I was lucky to have then colleagues Adrian Concepcion and Edlene Cabral to start me off by assisting them in their shoots. Like a kid given keys to the Chocolate Factory, I was happy.
Three years into the world of fashion styling, I still see myself as a newbie. The voices of self-ridicule and doubt still knock once and a while but I am happy to see myself evolving—in terms of my aesthetic and my inspirations. For this issue of Rank, I share with you some of the most memorable shoots I have done in my young career as a fashion stylist.
1. James Reid and Nadine Lustre
In 2014, I produced and styled a shoot for the now-defunct Manila Bulletin fashion and lifestyle supplement Style Weekend. Fresh from the success of their first movie, Ang Diary ng Panget, and days after the release of their second bubble gum flick, Talk Back and You’re Dead, the pair, more popularly known as JaDine was well on their way to national superstardom. It was an honor to do one of their very first shoots together for a cover and for a first time shoot producer, I let out a huge sigh of relief after I saw the end-result.
2. Mister International winner Neil Perez
Social media was awash when Neil Perez, more commonly known as Gwapong Pulis, was hailed as the Philippine representative for the Mister International pageant in 2014. Following his big win, I produced a cover shoot for Style Weekend. For this shoot, I wanted to give Neil a mini-makeover—far from how he was commonly featured either as a guy in uniform or a guy who competed in a male pageant.
3. Professional Models Association of the Philippines for OPlus
Dressing 16 models for a single shoot seemed like a tall order but assisting my friend Adrian Concepcion for this shoot was more than a great experience. The theme of the shoot was how fashion and technology meet. The logistical challenges of styling more than a dozen models were overwhelming, but the shoot with Mark Nicdao proved to be a breeze.
4. Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza
Like its legions of fans, I was, and still am, an avid supporter of Eat Bulaga’s afternoon schtick, Kalyeserye and the characters that made the show a hit, especially the phenomenal love team, of Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza, commonly known as AlDub. At the height of the loveteam’s popularity, I managed to organize a shoot with the two separately. It was a memorable and fulfilling experience, especially when scoring a shoot schedule with the two was not an easy feat.
For Alden Richards’ cover for Style Weekend, I wanted to recreate looks of various iconic leading men in different generations from Marlon Brando, to Warren Beaty. On the other hand, for the premiere issue of Rank magazine, I produced a shoot with Maine Mendoza with the theme modern royalty, wearing a special embroidered dress by master couturier Michael Cinco. Other designers like Mark Bumgarner, Edwin Tan, and Avel Bacudio then joined in to make this shoot and the new publication’s first ever issue a success.
5. On my styling aesthetic
Three years in the chaotic world of fashion and styling, when I look back, I now see how I have evolved (for the good, I hope) when it comes to styling and looking at fashion, as a whole. I can say now that I somehow have a bigger grasp of my aesthetic as a fashion stylist. I like combining form and function with some surprising tweaks or inclusions, be it in the form of a pop of color in an almost muted look, a cool pattern, or even gender-bending pieces that blur the lines of “who-can-wear-what”. Also, I realized, I am obsessed with layering–light to over-the-top. It may not be a popular choice, especially in our climate. But almost everytime, in shooting a celebrity or a model, they are always surprised that they can layer clothes and still be comfortable in it.That’s always a plus!