Three women—each with a distinct style—embody patriotic chic.
They embrace local even as they go for foreign fashion pieces in their wardrobe. They are fiercely nationalistic, letting Filipino-made couture and accessories define their style. It defines who they are to the core.
Carol Masibay Garcia
I first met Carol Masibay when she was Mutya ng Pilipinas in 1971. One of my first assignments as a newbie with the original Manila Times Sunday Magazine was to interview her for the cover.
We have become good friends since then, bonding lately more often over lunch or dinner. We would see each other on the job through the years, she as one of Pitoy Moreno’s favorite models (coverage of the show included London and Malaysia), and me as a lifestyle journalist.
The last time we were together on a trip was October last year in Madrid, where we attended the wedding of Bea Zobel Jr.’s son Jaime Urquijo to Alex Suarez.
Carol describes her personal style as classic but with a twist. I love experimenting with other looks, but then I have to dress my age, as I have three children and four grandkids.”
Carol says: “We have a lot of local designers who are so talented. Filipino creativity is amazing and often underrated by those who favor imported couture. But there is nothing wrong in liking a Gucci dress, for instance, like I do have a lot of global brands in my wardrobe.
“But in my heart of hearts, I love Filipino. I like my clothes done by Filipino designers because the choice of fabrics, the colors and the design are the result of our collaboration. I am also assured of a perfect fit. I feel good wearing local clothes. I feel doing so makes me more Filipino inside and out.”
Crickette Yu Tantoco has always breathed fashion, even as a college student in Marymount in New York, where she worked at Ann Taylor and Tiffany’s NYC.
Donnie Tantoco was her prom date and even while he studied in Connecticut for college and Kellogg for master’s, they kept in touch.
When they got married, Crickette got assignments for Nena Tantoco’s Expressions flower shop in Hong Kong, Royal Duty Free Shop and Rustan’s Supermarket, and worked with Anton Huang in Payless. She worked with Donnie until her retirement in 2017.
Crickette describes her style as contemporary and practical with a hint of glam. She stays glam even after three kids and one grandchild.
“Local is an indulgence,” she says. “It is different from the ready and obtainable collections of imported. To buy imported is instant gratification.”
“Local clothes are unique and artisan pieces. I shop these local designers because, apart from quality fabrics, impeccable tailoring and perfect proportion, the pieces are specially created for me. It reflects my personality and my mood at that time.
“Currently we have a lot of really talented local designers who are reimagining the local fashion landscape and doing a really good job of capturing the modern Filipino spirit. Intuitively blending traditional weaving, fabrics and accessories, they are creating contemporary silhouettes that have a global draw. It’s such a breath of fresh air to have designers very secure in their own talent and capabilities, not advocating global trends but forging their own.”
Crickette asserts: “I am proud to wear pieces thoughtfully handcrafted, celebrating the richness of our heritage. It makes me happy to see them get the recognition they deserve, both here at home and abroad.”
Tina Cuevas has been a friend even while she spent 25 years in Spain. Of course I visited her there, and I saw how she reveled in the European — particularly Spanish — vibe.
Finally coming home to help in the family’s businesses, Tina worked on her dad’s acquisition of the legendary Sulo Hotel and with her deft eye she transformed it into a modern boutique hotel.
Her fashion style is the eclectic gypsy look. “I love flowing colorful dresses with embroidery or embellishment with beading, matched with vintage and edgy, ethnic-inspired accessories.”
Tina exclaims: “I love local designers! I find it very exciting to sit down with my fave designers to conceptualize a piece for an event. It’s like opening a Pandora’s box with endless possibilities.
“My faves are Randy Ortiz, Jerome Salaya Ang, Puey Quiñones, TC Alvarez, Rhett Eala and Pepito Albert.
“I have a special fondness for accessories and I wear a lot of local ones because I find that our designers are very creative and unique. My personal weakness is pieces from Ann Ong, Wynn Wynn Ong, Caro by Mark Wilson, Lilibeth Campos and Pepito Albert.
“My personal style is simply being true to myself! I dress up for myself and not for others. For me, a simple outfit could be a standout with well-chosen statement accessories. I also love intricate gowns with manually beaded fabric where artisanship and the ingenuity of the designer are visible.”
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