“I’m so happy to see Fashion Forward back after being missing for three seasons. I’ve been showing my collections there for four seasons now and it’s been such a wonderful platform for me to reach a global market – exactly my goal. I grew up in a very small town in the Philippines called Catbalogan. People there didn’t really have style, and the only time they dressed up was on a Sunday or for a wedding. It was the lush surroundings that allowed my imagination to run wild, though. That, and how many classic Hollywood movies I used to watch. I was utterly fascinated by the costumes worn by icons like Grace Kelly and Bette Davis, but it was Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady that I really fell for. That’s when I knew I’d become a fashion designer.
I’m so proud that I made it, and that the President of the Philippines awarded me as one of the world’s most outstanding Filipinos. My desire is not just to create clothes, but to create dreams, and I’m living out my own, too. There are challenges that exist, however. The biggest one is making your brand relevant against competition such as fast-fashion and online shopping. You have to change your strategy and adapt to new marketing trends, but still remain true to your design aesthetic. But really, the best thing about being a creative, specifically in this region, is that the market is growing, so you don’t have to set limitations on trying out new ideas.
Dubai’s ecosystem will build if we continue to produce quality fashion weeks and invite buyers and international press. If we managed to achieve the status of being one of the most-visited tourist destinations in the world, then we can definitely become the next big fashion capital. I think by doing this we’ll also be able to change any misconceptions of what the region actually is. Even in 2019, some people still think Arab women are conservative or outdated in their taste, but they’re actually some of the most fashionable in the world. Western designers are now even starting to be inspired by modest fashion, creating incredible hijabs, abayas and kaftans. We’re setting the agenda now.”
From Harper's Bazaar Arabia's October 2019 Issue