It was back in 2008 that the name Michelline Syjuco first crossed my editorial life. I was then EIC for one of the country’s biggest glossies and my team and I were doing our first Holiday Shopping Special. There was a rather boldly constructed cuff that was unfortunately mislabeled as someone else’s when the magazine went to print, prompting a rather dismayed letter from Syjuco, correcting us for our error. Understanding the sensitivity of an artist having worked so hard on a creation, only to not be credited for it, I personally called her to apologize, was forgiven, and since then (although well-deserved) both she and her work were regular features in our magazine and events. Prior to her “mis”-feature she first got noticed, not by fashion insiders, but a well respected member of the art world. National Artist Napoleon Abueva spotted her at an event wearing one of her sculptures as a bracelet. He admired it and urged her to continue and come up with a whole line. He then recommended her to be a part of a jewelry show featuring the top designers from Manila.
Since then, Syjuco, who comes from a family of artists including parents Cesare and Jean Marie, has been ubiquitous in the fashion, art and social scene. Some may remember her exhibit as one of the Ateneo Art Award finalists, or a more recent family collaboration at the Yuchengco Museum. Her jewelry, known for its almost medieval-like influences, are solid pieces often encrusted with semi-precious gems spiraling around different metal mediums and are not for the fashion faint-hearted. Recently, she has expanded her design wings to produce a line of minaudieres, perfectly timed for the arrival of the holiday season, where bling is always very much in. Michelline Syjuco’s sculptural minaudiere collecion for 2013 consists of 14 pieces, all handmade in her studio in Alabang. Each one is distinctly different, they are made from recycled pinewood crates using pure stainless steel as hardware. For a twist, she incorporated old automatic watch parts, like gears and knobs. “This is a look that I feel has never been done before,” explains Syjuco. “Most minaudieres tend to be traditional. This is a fresh alternative to the norm.” Although all the pieces hold a special place in her heart she admits that her favorite one is “the one that looks like a little red transistor radio. He is so cute, and was a pain to produce. I must have repainted him five times before finally getting the finish I wanted.”
Syjuco admits that she designs for herself primarily, making things that she would wear herself. “I think of women who are bold and daring… not afraid to stand out or be in the spotlight,” she explains. Aside from her artist father, she looks to the late Alexander McQueen as an inspiration. “He could do it all!” she gushes. “And that’s what I want to do as well.” Her minaudieres are both functional and decorative, as each comes with a custom-made easel should you wish to display them instead of wear them. For those who are already fans of her art the design detour was a little shocking but not far-fetched. Like most free-spirited artists, being stereotyped is death, and she continues to express her multi-faceted personality in everything she creates, choosing to focus on one expression of it at a time. “Sometimes it’s hard to get the creative juices flowing just like that, but once I find something I’m passionate about, it’s hard to stop me,” she intimates. “I was actually supposed to do a jewelry line for the Cura V show, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I came up with the idea to do a few minaudieres, and I was so excited about the idea that I couldn’t even sleep more than a few hours a night.”
Owning a work of art, especially made by a local talent, is always a worthy investment. If your tastes run to wearable art, then a standout sculptural piece may be just what you need to make what you wear this season more stylish than usual.
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The minaudiére collecion is available in Cura V, 2/F Power Plant Mall, Rockwell. Prices per piece range from P15,000-P25,000. For more details visit www.michellinesyjuco.com.