Archive for the ‘Philippine Star Column’ Category

How to eliminate the dreaded double chin. Non-invasive techniques that work

In Philippine Star Column on October 26, 2012 at 1:52 am

More non-invasive ways to save face are available nowadays.

It’s there, you see it (or at least I do) when I’m not conscious about it, the dreaded double chin. Some attribute it to age while others blame one too many (Last na, promise!) pieces of chicharon. Regardless of the real cause, I find that gravity can be at its cruelest when a once-defined face begins to show a little droop. Many women have whined poetic about sagging in all the wrong places (there actually isn’t any right place) but it’s different when it happens right underneath even the brightest smile, and for the semi or very vain, it makes looking at some pictures unbearable.

There are, of course, surgical options, but that seemed a little too extreme to go under the knife for just that, so I asked around for other options that were less invasive and hopefully effective. First off, actual diet and exercise to lessen the fat intake and for overall toning and firmness which, yes, if done properly can include the face. Personal trainer Wawa Feliciano recommends a daily exercise of stretching and strengthening neck and even facial muscles. This takes three to five minutes a day and is best done in the morning or right before going to bed. Stand comfortably with your feet together and your hands by your sides, shoulders relaxed and as far away from your ears as possible. Then lower your chin to your chest and rotate gently to your left and raise your neck up as high as you can without straining, then rotate back down to your chest and do the same thing to your right. Doing this often helps activate those not-often-used muscles and minimizes the appearance of a double chin.

A new product on the market (and only distributed by dermatologists) is NewPeptin’s Reduchin Double Chin and Neck Cream, which promises to restore elasticity and firmness to the skin. Containing anti-aging peptides, it also promises to reduce wrinkles at the same time. Being paraben-free, this is great for those who want to stick to the path of more natural treatments. It is also recommended for accentuating the contours of the chin and results can be seen with regular application between six to eight weeks. Added bonus as it doubles as a moisturizer since it has a strong concentration of vitamins A, B, C and E. A double chin and “turkey” neck, it has been found, is caused by a change in the calcium gradient in the skin and a loss of skin tone and elasticity due to the loosening of skin tissue. These changes, coupled with continuous movements of the head, eventually cause small, gradual drops in the skin’s tone and elasticity, which eventually become apparent.

If a quick fix and more dramatic results are needed, then invest in some high-powered RF or radio frequency. Several clinics and dermatologists offer several kinds of services that do this. One is the Endymed treatment at Dra. Amy Patdu’s clinic (tel. 818-2698), which involves multiple energy sources working simultaneously. This results in a totally safe delivery of controlled heat deep into the skin, while preserving the overlying epidermis. It works, and it works fast, plus it only takes about 10 minutes a session depending on the area that needs firming and lifting. You can even do a comparison mid-treatment and have the therapist or the doctor performing the treatment show you the before and after effects right then and there. Other clinics offer even more dramatic treatments, which sometimes require local anesthesia application such as Thermage and Ulthera, the two top treatments found at Aivee Teo’s Skin and Laser Clinic (tel. 403-3245). It would be best to consult your current dermatologist or a recommended skin clinic before trying out any of these treatments.

Chin-up, it’s not too late for a little contouring from a fitness move to radio frequency you can look forward to some facial redefinition.

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NewPeptin Products are available at Renergy located at Serendra, Bonifactio High Street, Taguig; tel. no. 901-1918 and The Skin Specialist in Timog, Quezon City; 0917-8101319.


Handmade Italian Eye-Candy from SUPER

In Philippine Star Column on September 15, 2012 at 5:13 am

The Giaguaro black. Instant eye-lift!

I love sunnies. They can literally “mask” so many things, especially laziness to get dolled up in the morning. They’re also a great way to cover-up a long flight or a late night out, plus they can totally amp up any outfit you put on, by being a statement piece (start a conversation, why don’t you) or an accent piece like when black is all you can think of, a pop of dark purple or a vibrant red pair of shades can bring in a more youthful vibe.

Turn around bright eyes. Basic in Dark Purple.

I’ve owned many pairs of sunnies over the years and I’ve always stuck to classic shapes and tones but with the Manila arrival of handcrafted Italian brand Super, I am re-thinking my rather “safe” choices for eyewear.

Color (not) blind. The multi-colored Racer Black Marina.

Best described in their own words “SUPER, by RETROSUPERFUTURE, ignited the phenomenon of acetate sunglasses. They are made in multiple color graduations, which has generated a big trend starting 2007. Super is the first brand to produce a complete range of colorful fashion sunglasses combining these characteristics together with a very high quality manufacturing process. SUPER sunglasses are made to the highest possible standards, hand-made in Italy by the best manufacturers with the best materials.

Peepers pretty. The Flat Top Burnt Havana in light beige.

Since their introduction, artists, celebrities, sports athletes and trendsetters have been wearing SUPER sunglasses. Kanye West, David Beckham, Daft Punk, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Beyonce, Wiz Kalifa, Lil’ Wayne, Sienna MIller, Jessica Alba and Valentino Rossi are just a few who have been seen sporting a SUPER.”

It’s black, it’s white, it’s black and white. Basic in Tyedye.

They had me at David Beckham, because I think he and his wife are the ultimate pegs of effortless cool. And I’m sure Posh wouldn’t let him sport a pair of these sunnies if they didn’t go with their entire stylista vibe. Now, the dilemma for me is which. they have their basic, their flatwear, and their two takes on the classic aviator. The drool factor is immense, plus they even have one with a polarizing lens so you don’t have to take them off and place them on again with the bipolarity of our sun these days.  Oh, and being a former cinematographer, it was a major geek-y turn on when I was told their lenses are made by Carl Zeiss.

Buy polar. Basic black with polarized lens

So, which one? I’m torn between the cream and black and the tortoise, although the dark purple and gold resin aviators are also ones I see going with everything in my wardrobe. Help.

A twist on Top Gun. The Leon in yellow gold metal and resin.

In the meantime, help yourself to some delicious eye-candy, which is not only protective but also fiercely fashionable.

Super Sunglasses are exclusively available nationwide through click on to see thewhole range on their online boutique.

Hunting for figure-flattering dresses and separates

In Philippine Star Column on September 14, 2012 at 2:29 am

Jersey sure: Souk’s long sleeve maxi dress

A fashion “dash” is how I would describe my last-minute dress-up habit. Since I like to hit the snooze button one too many times I end up rushing through my morning rituals so I’m not late for work. I admire those who can plan their wardrobe the night before or can mentally dress themselves up and not have to throw a bunch of stuff on the bed to see what goes with what. I’ve since then found an easier solution (yes, rather than just wake up earlier) which was to invest in easy-wear pretty dresses and separates. Normally, jersey is an ideal choice of material as it (when made well) falls on any silhouette nicely and just needs you to slip it on and head out that door. Of course, pattern and print are very important if you’re not a Skinny Minnie so if you want to steer away from the monochromes then take time out to try them on, and take your time. Just because it looks good on the rack doesn’t mean it’s going to complement your shape and size; also vary per brand and also be wary about “free” sizes. So, again, make sure that you really like how it looks on you — a maxi dress can make you look pretty or pregnant (when you’re not).

Summer’s still here. A printed razor t-back maxi dress from Souk.

Retailers have embraced the practicality of dresses in this fabric which is also travel friendly. I spoke to designer Richie Ortega-Torres, better known for her bespoke bridal creations, about her line of figure-flattering dresses for Souk. “My design inspiration for this line is me, or people like me who feel their ‘problem’ areas are at the tummy and the arms. These dresses are easy to wear, forgiving and can be dressed up or dressed down so they’re very flexible.” To add to the flexibility and practicality of her printed pieces, Ortega-Torres puts pockets in almost all of them, and with prices ranging from P1,950 to P2,750 they are relatively light on the pocket as well. For those who are already familiar with this brand and are happy with their silhouettes, they’ll be happy to know that Souk plans to launch (as the designer coins it) swimwear that is also on the more “forgiving” side. “We tested them over the summer,” she shares, “and the result was fantastic, so I’m excited for that.”

Graphic novel. A boldly printed short, and 3/4 sleeve jersey dress from Souk.

Another source for jersey-made pieces is Details, a store conceptualized by design couple Conrad and Hywel Joson. Hywel does the designing and product development. This includes dealing with overseas suppliers as well as deciding which pieces are finally included in the collection. Conrad is in charge of the men’s line (which is available in selected stores) as well as most of the backroom/administrative functions. “Our design philosophy is anchored on providing our clients with fashion forward but tasteful pieces,” says Conrad (or Copa to his friends). “Wearability is a key factor in designing and producing our pieces.” Best-sellers from Details are their jersey dresses and jumpsuits. These are pieces that are flattering to most age groups and body types as they have classic cuts that can be worn for a long time. I’ve had personal experience with this, having made my first purchase of a striped multi-colored maxi dress several years ago and have happily worn it on many occasions, getting compliments for it each time. If you’ve already had your fill of dresses and want other options their price points can allow you to get a variety of separates to mix and match (ranging from P995-P1,300) or a waist-creating wrap jersey jumpsuit (P1,895) in either a solid color or print (P1,995).

Office chic. Three fourths jersey top and pleated pink skirt from Details.

Remember, if you’re going for these versatile pieces that shouldn’t be an excuse for lazy dressing — accessories are also key in keeping them fashionable. Also, flattering as this fabric may be, it is no excuse to fall flat in your health and beauty routine. You do not want to max out a maxi dress. Even if you now can shave off minutes when getting ready, looking effortlessly stylish still takes some work, but it’s always worth it.

Scarf prints. Padded and printed jersey dress from Details.

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Richie Ortega-Torres’ jersey dress line is available at Souk Gallery, at The Ramp Crossings at Glorietta 3 and TriNoma. Details can be found at Power Plant Mall, TriNoma, Shangri-La Mall and Glorietta 3 (The last two inside The Ramp Crossings).

Photos of Souk Gallery courtesy of Toto Labrador for and other photos courtesy of Details

Improve your skin’s appearance with these organic body products

In Philippine Star Column on August 11, 2012 at 2:47 am

Got body issues? Who doesn’t? A majority of my friends, of various ages, sizes and nationalities, always have something about their body that doesn’t fit with the ideal they carry around in their head. So, we head to the gym, the ashram, or one of the latest aesthetic centers that has the newest so-and-so machine that promises to zap all the Cheetos you noshed on over the weekend (right). As we all sign up for the battle against the bulge, we often overlook the most important component of our corporeal vessel: the skin that keeps it all in. I’ve seen many a perfect silhouette ruined by flakey “bits” (i.e., dark and dry elbows and knees, or scale-y like heels and palms). Having just come from a trip that made me go through an onslaught of temperatures left me with a lot of sloughing off to do. My skin, although normally on the oily side, doesn’t react well to the dry air blown by air conditioners, and even a plane ride can make my skin shed so I always stash a hand moisturizer that doubles as a foot moisturizer in my hand-carry. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve also noticed that my skin doesn’t retain moisture like it used to, in spite of the humidity, so I’ve had to resort to a few extra “steps” during and post-bath.

Scrub on scrub off: The Farm at San Benito’s Body Polish is best for high-skin shine!

One important step is to exfoliate. I am quite active and my bathroom rituals are always done in a semi-rush so I do indulge myself in a once a week total scrub. If it’s been a particularly harrowing workweek, then I do it twice. This is probably more psychological on my part, feeling that I’m literally “scrubbing” off all the dramas from the day. Exfoliation, I’ve learned, is not only integral to having smoother and more radiant skin, but the action itself can improve blood circulation throughout your body. This ritual has led me to try several body scrubs on the market, but it wasn’t until I spent a couple of days at The Farm at San Benito that I fell in love with their Salus Per Aquam body polish. There are two variants — The Purifying Body Polish-Yin Yang Lemongrass and the Stimulating Body Polish Barako Coffee (P950/300g). I took home the Lemongrass, one, preferring the smell and also because I was told it was easier to wash off than the Barako. Made with Lahori Salt, San Benito’s ANH Coconut Oil, grapeseed oil, lemongrass essential oil and vitamin E (plus other natural goodies such as beeswax and various fruit extracts) this polish smells amazing and the salt component is “coarse” enough so that you truly believe it’s removing so many impurities from your body, without scratching your skin. Since the polish is already so enriched with some of Mother Nature’s finest, it’s recommended that you do not use soap to wash off any excess oils. Application should be done on damp skin and in a circular motion, doing this once a week (perhaps twice if your skin is extremely dry) removes dead skin cells, improves circulation, purifies the skin and stimulates the lymph system. Focus on areas that are more prone to sweat, like the underarms, inner thighs, and don’t forget your heels, elbows and knees!

What happens though when you find yourself in a situation where it’s “too late to exfoliate”? Then a body cream with skin-enriching properties is definitely something you should have on-hand. I’ve found the Bare it All Cream of V&M Naturals (P285/100g or P695/ 300g) is a dream cream come true. With V&M Naturals’ now-famous emu oil ingredient as the main component, combined with shea butter, jojoba oil, mango butter, papain and peppermint extracts giving your skin a tingle when you rub it in. I’ve actually gotten so attached to this cream that I bring it with me sometimes for a massage. One masseuse even commented that dark patches on my body seemed to lighten up almost immediately. Other users have experienced a reduction of chicken skin, and like me, lightening of dark areas-not to mention immediate relief for very dry and calloused skin. On another personal note, I actually had a zit forming on my chin one night and due to laziness I actually rubbed a bit of this cream on the almost-zit. By the morning, it was gone. Since the texture of the cream is slightly heavy, it’s preferable to use at night or when you travel and aren’t sure what weather conditions are waiting for you when you land. Because of the peppermint component it can also ease tired feet and legs after a long day of walking around in killer heels.

Rescue and recover. V&M Naturals Bare it All Cream is an immediate skin saver

If you’re looking for something for everyday use then check out Biopha Organics’ Moisturizing Body Milk (P625/400ml). Made in France and certified organic by two international organic regulatory organizations (Ecocert and Cosmebio) this new player in the skin market is free from GMO’s, petrochemicals and chlorine derivatives, parabens as well as artificial scents and coloring. This lotion does contain organic aloe vera and organic argan oil, making it good for everyday skin hydration. Since it’s practically fragrance-free, it will not clash with your cologne or perfume and is safe for those with very sensitive skin. Coming in pump form, this is ideal if you’ve got to share your bathroom and don’t like the idea of someone double dipping their hands and fingers into any of your beauty finds.

Your body is your temple as the saying goes, so worship yours with products that contain ingredients that actually make it look and feel better the more you use them.

Botanical body. Biopha Organics Body Milk is eco-certified and great for everyday use.

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For more information on The Farm at San Benito’s products call 884-8074 or 0918-8848078 or visit For Venus and Mars Naturals call 966-3719 or 0917-8232724 or visit For Biopha Organics Products call 421-5745 or 0910-5576955 or 59. Or visit to order online.

Here’s how you can help the victims of the monsoon

In Philippine Star Column on August 10, 2012 at 1:12 am

Lend a hand to victims this weekend!

Although not of Ondoy-esque proportions (thank goodness) the heavy and consistent rains over the past couple of days have certainly displaced thousands of individuals and families. Even if we are better prepared this time around with evacuation centersand information dissemination, the monsoon’s unpredictability continues to cause damage and renders most roads to smaller barangays and districts un-passable. It is not recommended that private citizens go out themselves to deliver rescue and relief goods, as this may result in more injuries, and even fatalities, but there are ways you can help. The easiest, of course, is through monetary donations but if you’d rather volunteer your services or donate goods, there are many ways you can do it without risking your own life and leaving the professionals to do it with safety a priority.

As of this writing, here’s a shortlist of what you can do to help:

What To Give

Items for packed goods:

• Bottled water

• Rice (bigas)

• Packed noodles

• Crackers and chips

• Milk and juice

• Canned goods

• Vitamins or medicine

• Clothes

• Tarpaulins

• Mats or rugs

• Blankets

• Medical Equipment (bandages, gauze, betadine, antibiotics)



Drop-Off Points

• Angel Brigade Headquarters

2/F Franck Provost Building,

120 Jupiter St., Bel-Air Makati

Donations accepted 24 hours.

Tel .nos. (02) 897-0383 or (02) 897-0307

Other depot areas for Angel Brigade include:

• Franck Provost Salon

Molito Complex, Madrigal Avenue,

Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa

Donations accepted from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m..

Look for Jane or Carla.

Tel nos. (02) 772-3284 or 772-3286

• Urban Ashram High Street Branch

3rd Floor, Active Fun Building,

9th cor. 28th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City

Donations accepted from 9a.m. – 5 p.m..

Look for Martin or Trisha.

Tel. no. (02) 869-YOGA (9642)

• Urban Ashram Kapitolyo branch

Suite 302, 3 Brixton Street,

Kapitolyo, Pasig City

Donations accepted from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m..

Look for Mandy or Angelo.

Tel. no. (02) 661-YOGA (9642)

The organizers behind Megatent and Corinthian relief operations are accepting donations fro 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Gerry Peñalosa Boxing Gym, Libis on top of Causeway restaurant. Canned goods, drinking water, and old clothes are welcome.

Bigger organizations such as the Red Cross are also accepting goods. To get more details log on to

Food Donations

1) Chef Roland and Jackie Laudico are offering their kitchen and culinary skills to prepare hot meals for evacuation centers. Ingredients and items needed:

Raw Foods:

• Raw pork, chicken or beef

• Rice (bigas or sticky)

• Vegetables

• Garlic

• Onion

• Ginger

• Salt and pepper

• Soy sauce

• Vinegar


Biodegradable plates

and containers

(the ones for take-out)

• Big paper bags or

Orocans to help

transport food

• Plastic utensils

Items can be dropped off at: Bistro Filipino Restaurant (please enter through the back) 3rd Avenue, Net Square Bldg Bonifacio Global City (across McDonald’s) contact nos. 0917-8002433 or (02)856-0541.

2) Brgy Soup Kitchen is now accepting ingredient donations: whole chicken (chopped), 1/4 sticky & 3/4 regular rice, large eggs, patis, & ginger. Please drop off at PenPen Restaurant. Directions can be found online at

3) Binalot Fiesta Foods is now accepting food pledges of P50 and up. Proceeds will be used by Binalot to prepare and distribute food to people and areas who are immediately and desperately in need. You can choose from any of their “Pledge packages” and “order” as many as you want with different payment options by visiting Binalot’s Facebook and Multiply pages.

Still want to help? Re-post, re-tweet and share information responsibly. There’s a lot of garbage out there, don’t let it already add up to mess the rains have made. Good luck to everyone and happy helping!

Adjusting the ‘chi’ of your feet-Get a foot massage this weekend!

In Philippine Star Column on July 21, 2012 at 1:09 am

Even if your shoe wardrobe has shifted from summer sleek to rain ready, you should ensure that your tips and toes are always in top shape. Furthermore, your feet carry you literally through all your stages of life, and have probably done this in some of the most torturous footwear available. Whether your peds have been squeezed and squished into flats or killer heels, supported by workout trainers or allowed some open freedom with flip-flops, they are in need of regular TLC. Alternative medicine believes that the feet house all the nerve endings of the organs and muscles in our body, and encourage massage therapies such as reflexology to help the flow of “chi” or life force. I take my feet seriously, believing that dry calloused skin, plus ungroomed nails, are a total turn-off, not to mention that tired, aching feet can lead to even more discomfort throughout the rest of my body so I make time for a serious “feet treat” once a week. Until recently, most foot reflexology centers were dimly lit, crowded venues with therapists who just made you sit down and went to work. A very impersonal experience and uncomfortable for some since the general ambiance was reminiscent of an establishment of ill-repute. Still, many flocked to these places believing that having their feet pressed and prodded had therapeutic benefits. I can still remember going with two of my gay friends to a foot massage place in Cebu, as they were local, they knew the lay of the land and we still recount with laughter at how we cringed, whined and practically screamed when our feet were being manipulated by giggling foot therapists. But, we all slept like the dead that night, so we couldn’t discount that, at the very least, something must have worked.

Take the time out to treat your feet right!

Nowadays, foot spas are aplenty and there is a range of services to choose from, in terms of just the bare-bones foot massage to an all-out pod pampering. At the recently opened The Reflex Zone, there are two treatments on offer, one for adults and one for kids. Simple. It was explained to me that this center practiced the Rwo Shur Health Method of Reflexology and that all the therapists were male and had undergone strict training in this particular method. As a backgrounder, Rwo Shur was developed by Fr. Josef Eugster, a Swiss Catholic priest and a missionary in Taiwan who got into reflexology because of his own need to be healed. In 1977, at only 37 years old, he was suffering from a debilitating severe rheumatoid arthritis in his knees. After consulting several physicians, it was a friend who convinced him to try reflexology — telling him that the cause of his ailments was rooted in the imbalance of his internal organs and could be treated by curing through pressing on various pressure points found in the feet. My 80-minute treatment which started off with my feet soaked in gel bath (P1,000) was quite soothing, although I would have preferred a more comfortable chair. Thankfully, there was also a short back massage included and we were given a bottle of water to drink after the treatment. I was instructed to not shower for a couple of hours and not to eat a heavy meal that night. The therapists were all very polite and there was even a chart you could read to see what parts of the foot corresponded to a particular organ or ailment. For a no-frills treatment in a comfortable setting, this is good place to literally “cool” your heels.

The Reflex Zone for no-frills yet effective foot massages.

At The Neo Spa in Fort Bonifacio and its sister spa Ki Spa in Greenhills you get myriad choices on how much pampering your peds need. In terms of massage there is the Ingham Method of Reflexology which is the result of the combined work of the late Eunice Ingham, the founder of reflexology, and her nephew Dwight Byers, head and founder of the International Institute of Reflexology. It was Singaporean Master Reflexologist George Tay, the Asian representative of the International Institute of Reflexology, who trained their reflexologists. A 60-minute session can cost anywhere between P600 and P900. You can extend your treatment to also include a short back massage. If you want to try something more locally inspired then there is also the Bamboo Foot Massage (anywhere from P850 to P1,150/ session). This is an authentic and indigenous tribal foot massage that uses herbal clay to cleanse and purify one’s feet and then bamboo sticks to stimulate the soles. Afterwards, deep strokes of hagod relieve the feet, which helps in regulating blood pressure, improves blood circulation, lessens stress and hormonal imbalance. This is a gentler alternative to traditional reflexology, which may not be for everybody’s discomfort thresholds. You can complete any of the abovementioned treatments with a foot spa and pedicure if you have time to spare.

Pamper-time is easy at Ki Spa and Neo Spa

Last but not least, if you want to go for luxe, check out the treatments at Dusit Thani Hotel’s Devarana Spa. You can opt for a private room, although it would be wise to call ahead and see if the hotel has any ongoing events. The spa is located right beside the pool area so you may not get the peace and quiet you would like if there is something happening. If you are going to indulge go for their 1-2 punch of Reflexology (P2,700++) plus Aromatic Pedicure (P2,200++). You start off with a gentle sea salt scrub that sloughs off dead, calloused skin and leaves your soles refreshed as pressure is then applied in reflexology fashion. The pedicure that follows is so thorough your feet and nails feel squeaky clean and “younger looking,” with the added bonus of being prettified with a couple of coats of Chanel nail polish.

Luxe lounge. Ultimate feet treats at Devarana Spa in Dusit Thani

Remember, throughout every journey in life your feet walk with you every step of the way. Treat ‘em right.

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For more information on The Reflex Zone, Pasong Tamo ext., Makati call 812-0050 or e-mail: For Ki by Neo Day Spa-Greenhills, call: 584-6789 or 584-6066. For Neo Day Spa-Bonifacio Global City call: 815-8233 or 815-6948. For Devarana Spa at the Dusit Thani Hotel, Makati call 818-7081 or e-mail

Convertible clothes: designer James Reyes launches his first multi-wear line

In Philippine Star Column on July 7, 2012 at 10:27 am

We all like to get the most bang for our buck. Personally, I am always on the lookout for a good bargain. Internet shopping has aided many an intrepid shopper in getting a coveted or longed-for designer piece at a budget-friendly price. Many of my friends and I talk about how we now have the option not to pay full price for stuff we love anymore. Aside from quality, wearability and versatility are factors I put on high priority when I’m thinking of restocking or amplifying my closet. It was then welcome news for me when designer James Reyes announced that he would be creating his first line of limited edition multi-wear pieces. Multi-wear has come a long way from a poncho/wrap that could be worn depending on how you buttoned it up, as a capelet, as an off-shoulder cover-up or as a thick shawl — it was, in its time, a popular item but for some reason, its appeal was not long-lasting, perhaps because it wasn’t very well-made and looked rather worn-out after a couple of washes. Nowadays, even international top designers are creating diffusion lines for more mass market stores in order to amp up their accessibility — often making active wear or reversible collections to give the practical shopper a boost in spending a little bit more than she feels she should.

Circle of life: One top-that can be worn several ways and even reversed.

Reyes, who came from an advertising background, started his design career in 2002 when he joined the Mega Young Designers Competition. A few months later he was a finalist at the Paris Young Designers Competition with a gown design chosen to be among the five creations to represent the Philippines in Paris. He credits his Paris competition entry as his “breakout” design, being a piece that was mostly stapled together. Perhaps this was an early indication of his foray into multi-wear, which are pieces that seemingly come together through twisting, buttoning and turning inside out. The first design he showed me (which I fell in love with and eventually purchased) was a green ball skirt in taffeta (P10,000). In its floor-length full version it could also be hitched up in front, then could be seen as an asymmetrical skirt, then finally as a short bubble skirt. One could also play with the position of the bustle as Reyes placed several buttons and loops at the waist so one could experiment on different looks. The skirt comes in green, white, ivory and yellow.

Ballroom blitz: A full length skirt that can go from floor-to knee.

Next came what he coined his “Circle top” (P4,000) because when laid out flat on the floor, it was actually cut in a circle form. Made of jersey, the bias cut ends could be worn as ruffles, a sash, or over the shoulder; another plus was that it could also be worn back to front. Reyes then showed me his Sando shift dress (P8,000) a continuous cut dress that could be worn inside and out, and one could even twist the shoulder drape for added texture and detail. The last piece was an oversized, unisex black T-shirt (P4,000) that would look good over your skinniest jeans or tights but could also be transformed into a shirtdress when tied around the waist, creating a short skirt and blouse-y top. When asked what inspired him to try his hand at multi-wear, he replied, “I am drawn to Asian garments that are tied and knotted in different ways for decoration or for a certain function, like the malong. So in my mind, I am just recreating an ancient, basic garment that is free for reinterpretation by the wearer. The garment then becomes individual and well-suited to the person wearing it. I just used the idea of multi-functionality in contemporary garments like the T-shirt, the shift dress, the ball skirt, etc.”

Shift happens: The Sando shift dress can be worn inside out

Perhaps it is also due to his love of Japanese designers and their seemingly out-of-this-world aesthetic that gave Reyes the idea to make garments that look almost sculptural when draped and twisted in interesting detail over the human form. Just fitting his clothes was an exercise in imagination. The activity of creating different looks with a single piece was like fashion playtime — and thinking of the varied ways one could go from boardroom to ballroom was incredibly fun. Practical may not always be pretty, but in this particular case, pretty was practical as well.

T-shirt tales: This oversized t-shirt can be worn over skinny jeans or tights or…

…twisted to make an asymmetric shirtdress!

James Reyes can be contacted via mobile (0917)623-6183 or e-mail :

Handcrafted and handwoven ‘murses’ even women will love from S.C. Vizcarra

In Philippine Star Column on June 14, 2012 at 4:17 pm

The Rodrigo. Woven from a single piece of leather.

Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend but a bag is definitely her baby. Slung over the shoulder, clutched in the crook of an elbow or dangling from a bent arm, a bag is something we never leave home without. We have all shapes, sizes and colors as one is never enough, and it becomes a veritable treasure trove (or portable trash can) for our most personal — and sometimes our partner’s personal items. How many times have you found yourself with your husband or boyfriend’s keys, wallet and cellphone? As a child I remember my father walking around holding his wallet, papers and car keys while we went to watch a movie or to the mall and my mom being so paranoid that he’d lose something or everything that she insisted he dump it all in her purse. Until recently, the only option for men was a clutch bag, which became the cause for many a DOM joke, it became associated with out-of-shape politicos or businessmen, or the knapsack, which only worked if you were either a mountaineer or still enrolled in school.

The Salcedo. Throw everything in, stylishly.

Thankfully the evolution of the “murse” has come round, with options for the conservative to metrosexual male within easier reach. S.C. Vizcarra has launched a men’s collection, which most women wouldn’t mind buying for themselves, and not just the men in their lives. Designer Rita Nazareno, whose grandmother Segundina Cornejo Vizcarra opened shop in 1925, continues three generations of luxury hand-woven bags using traditional weaving techniques. Having two brothers helped Nazareno to create functional yet aesthetically unique and beautiful bags that wouldn’t emasculate and can withstand the less nurturing nature of men towards their murses. “We started designing for men a couple of years ago,” shares Nazareno. “I design for my brother Anthony, an architect, and also my lawyer brother, Philip. But even if we designed this line for men, we’re finding that women like them as well.”

The Jaime. A bestselling leather “pull-out” all-around bag.

In terms of bestselling bags there is the Rodrigo (P13,500) which shows fine weaving as the body is from a base of a single piece of leather and is nicely two-toned, the Salcedo (P7,800) which both a brother and a sister carry and the Miguel (P8,900) a “market basket” design made from microfiber which she herself uses. “The Salcedo and the Miguel are great buys as they are very versatile with classic shapes.” All of the bags in natural leather take about a week to produce — each painstakingly stitched and designed under Nazareno’s scrutinizing eye. “ I never have a typical work day,” laughs this award-winning designer, “and that’s what I love about it. I could be somewhere and doodle something, take a picture of it, email it and then work on it with the team when I get back to the office. And the team is great too, they come up with great designs!”

The Bilbao. Frank Gehry inspired artsy attache.

There is also a new take on the male “clutch” with the Barros (P5,100) which one can easily imagine on the arm of a woman, made of leather weave and natural, antique with gray microfiber lining. Even with its sleek design, it opens up and expands to accommodate personal belongings and then some. For an all-around unisex work bag the Jaime (P10,000) is what gets swept off the shelves the most. It is foldable and stretchable and has a timeless look and made up of leather diagonal weave and a charcoal microfiber fabric lining. It’s strong enough to tote around your laptop and other work items in and also stylish to use for play or a day trip out. If you’re looking for something that pushes the design envelope, then the edginess of the Bilbao (P28,200) will make you or your man a definite conversation starter. Inspired by Frank Gehry’s art, this natural leather weave in pewter looks like an attaché on acid, and will turn more than a few heads, plus it wields everything you need for the day inside of it, effortlessly.

The Barros. A modern day clutch.

It’s Father’s Day weekend so your pops may need an accessory update, or your better half a break from his tired and tattered messenger. Perhaps you might just be looking for a brand new bag so why not go for local love and see if there’s a handcrafted “murse” in your stars.

The Miguel. A market basket inspired bag made of microfibre.

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S.C. Vizcarra will have a sale on selected bags and corporate give-aways on June 15 and 16 at One Roxas Triangle, 3rd floor social hall, Paseo de Roxas (entrance on Cruzada Street), Makati (behind Mandarin Oriental Hotel), from 10am – 6pm. For more info, or call 854-6751 or 854-6755.

The Andres. A sleeker take on the normal messenger bag.

Dramatic silhouettes for making a grand entrance -PFW Grand Allure 2012

In Philippine Star Column on June 2, 2012 at 3:33 am

When one thinks of an “alluring” design, the imagination immediately goes to soft, seductive fabrics, subtle sensuality and shades that are striking on a more subconscious level. There were 10 collections presented at the Grand Allure show which bordered from cleverly innovative to downright pageant-esque, where subtlety seemed like the farthest thing from the designer’s mind. Here are the highlights from the show.

Fanny Serrano presented an all-out ethereal collection with models in kabuki-esque make up and dressed almost head-to-toe in piña and other natural looking fibers. It was as if someone had taken Annie Lennox’s music video for Walking on Broken Glass and given it a Filipinana twist as textures seemed to be spun from muted gold threads with tailoring that defied gravity. It went way, way beyond the oftentimes re-invented barong tagalog and filled the stage with an abstract romanticism of earthy neutral tones that moved easily with both the male and female models. His collection was the most cohesively clean and consistent among the group. Paper-like dresses by June Pugat made entirely of custom-dyed jusi were a welcome surprise after all the flashy colors and sequins that permeated the runway that night. The designer shared that he had created these dresses to be worn by “earth goddesses” — think of the Indonesian devis, which is probably what they were made to look like as they floated almost fairy-like down the catwalk. Rust and forest green paired with black and sand-like yellows, plus interesting detailing in the back (think a flower opening its petals to the sun) made these ensembles seem to change in shade and structure with every model’s movement. (see below)

Edgar San Diego turned Samurai sexy with asymmetrical twists on the traditional kimono. With strong reds, blacks and golds, trimmed with softer fabrics or abstract prints against a blue-gray, it were as if he also took the prized koi fish as inspiration — perfect pieces for a dramatic entrance at any event. Enchantment came in the form of textural draping and soft pastel fabrics for most of Mitzi Quilendrino-Bustos’ collection, including an extremely sheer and body-skimming wedding dress trimmed with gold, which closed the show that evening.

Thoughtful provocation finds home in structured dramatic ensembles-PFW Holiday 2012

In Philippine Star Column on June 1, 2012 at 2:53 am

MANILA, Philippines – This quartet of four familiar names from the industry was mostly high shine and heavy handiwork — making some veritable showstoppers, although many bordered on a “looks good on the runway but not in reality” piece. Still, couture is all about what the designer is capable of, with the audience picking out pieces that may be more wearable in real life.

Avel Bacudio took inspiration from medieval times, producing pieces that of a modern warrior, infusing metal accents to his predominantly black and white pieces. Structured jackets with sharp shoulders went into stark contrast against monochromatic patterned flowing dresses, including an almost floor-length number that was cinched in with a metal belt. Spikes were also mixed in with sequined details adding more character to a collection that remained simple in its clean construction, giving the everyday warrior wearable choices, and an option for a full-metal fashionista.

Avel Bacudio. Metal mixed materials


Avel Bacudio. Iron Butterfly sleeves

















Chris Diaz showed a collection that could make for a present-day Julie Christie in Dr. Zhivago. Reminiscent of Russian fur hats and rich fabrics, it was the interesting mix of colors that were most memorable on the runway. Jewel toned skirts paired with dark velvet and lace echoed both decadence and drama. One particular standout was a transparent black net with a rose detailed neckline over what looked like an acid-green satin dress-think rock princess goes to the ball.

Chris Diaz. Russian-esque dreams

Disco (or Donna Summer) opened the high-energy collection of Eric de los Santos as señora supermodel Marina Benipayo spun around in a fully sequined red gown that could have garnerned her entry at disco utopia’s Studio 54. High-end shine was a common thread that evening as sequins and shiny leather ensembles shimmered on. If that wasn’t enough to be eye-catching, newsprint-like patterns also emerged on dresses, showing clothes that looked even better when in full-motion. An off-the-shoulder top that looked like it was made from a disco ball, as well as a full sequined black pantsuit that was mid-riff bearing, were definitely not for the fashion faint-hearted and would be worth their weight in conversation sparkle.

The glamour found in the silver screen of yesteryears seemed to serve as inspiration for Raoul Ramirez’ collection, although some veered away from the conventional and were paired with more dramatic details such as puffed-up ruffled sleeves, necklines on top of a skin hugging sequined skirt and a seamless transition of gold to black on a floor length dress (again) sequined and beaded. Even his menswear showed character, with what would normally be a trench coat was shortened and angled, paired with a bowler hat and tights, something maybe only Chaplin could pull off. Lace, satin and even what looked to be velvet were at their brightest, giving a playful twist to what would otherwise be a standard, classic piece.