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Chito Vijandre & Ricky Toledo on twinning: Is it for fashion or love?

By MILLET M. MANANQUIL, The Philippine STAR Published Feb 10, 2021 5:00 am

There is never a drab moment with Chito Vijandre and Ricky Toledo. Just looking at their outfits alone will make you smile. In ’70s fashionspeak, this was called double exposure. Today we call it twinning. Or matchy-matchy.

Chito and Ricky have been twinning since they met in 1980. No, they’ve never argued as to which of their schools reign supreme—La Salle or Ateneo—though it would have been nice to see their fashion take on the rivalry.

 Brocade jackets with embroidered appliques lovingly composed by Chito Vijandre

This duo is simply adorable. Chito is an icon, a stalwart, a pillar in the Philippine fashion industry. Though I would rather call him a créateur and a provocateur, for he is truly fearless. Ricky is an erudite writer who loves digging into fashion history, art and culture. Together, they produce weekly articles that transcend fashion and take readers on an intellectual trip to eons past when glamour and elegance reigned supreme.

Here’s how our conversation went:

The Philippine STAR: Why do you two often wear identical clothes? Is it for the love of fashion? Or simply for love?

CHITO VIJANDRE: Love of fashion, definitely!

 At Bench’s Fashionable Filipinas book launch wearing barongs cut as suits

RICKY TOLEDO: And I thought it was simply for love…

CV: Of course, both.

RT: Hopefully fashion is secondary.

CV: Isn’t it obvious we’re always beside each other? That’s why our clothes always have to complement so that we look good together.

RT: Yes, optics are important, especially now with social media, you never know when and where your image will come out so best to be photogenic.

 All abloom in their store AC+632 at Greenbelt 5 (Metro Society)

Now, which couple was it in the history of fashion who first wore matching clothes?

RT: Maybe Roman Emperor Hadrian and Antinous in matching togas?

CV: Don’t you remember, Poopsie, I made us matching togas for a Coco Banana party?

 Obi opulence at Red Charity Gala 2017

RT:  Oh, yes, with a beaded mask, which I asked Cecile Baun, the famous prosthetics queen, to replicate on my face so that when I got too tipsy or tired to hold the mask, the design would still be on my face. And to complete the surreal evening, we went home at sunrise greeted by fire trucks outside the house because we left the aircon on all night from overexcitement for the party and it caused electric wires to overheat!

CV: It was really like Rome burning! Good na lang the maids discovered it right away and not much damage was done.

 At a fashion show combining lime and orange with plaids

RT: Hay, we were so carefree and careless then. And the things we did for fashion!  Anyway, going back to history, Oscar Wilde would actually twin with his boyfriend, Lord Alfred Douglas, in 1890s England.

CV: The artists Gilbert and George have always been twinning since they met and fell in love in the 1960s, collaborating with their art and also with their dressing.

Who are the famous celebrity twinners?

CV: Victoria and David Beckham, Emily Blunt and John Krasinski.

 Gong hei fat choy! Ricky Toledo and Chito Vijandre for a Chinese New Year party

RT: JLo and her boyfriend, Alex Rodriguez. Ellen De Generes and girlfriend Portia de Rossi.  Among the fashionistas, Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams and Reuben Selby always make an effort when they’re seen in the front rows during fashion week.

CV: Kate and Prince William, Meghan and Prince Harry.

 Dressed for a pirate theme party of Dennis and Tessa Valdes

RT: It’s funny, they want to avoid the paparazzi but they make such an effort to have twinning looks, making themselves so photogenic that it drives the hounds rabidly running after them for photos!

How do you go about it—you plan what you’ll wear to an event? Or after one dresses up, the other will be gaya-gaya?

 Turning Japanese for a Tatler Ball (Philippine Tatler)

RT: Of course it has to be planned. This is serious business. No, actually sometimes it’s last minute. One of us chooses first then the other tries to choose na lang what complements the other one’s outfit best. But sometimes after one chooses, the other chooses a more stunning one, inciting a style war of outdoing one another until we’ve practically exhausted the whole closet of choices.

CV: Of course, for big events, advanced planning is needed. We try to work around a theme, like, say, Japanese, so we had to look through our obi stash to have some made into suits for a Red Charity Gala. Or opt for traditional Japanese hakama trousers and haori kimono coats but wear them with white dress shirts and bowties like we did for a Tatler Ball.

Do you ever argue about it? Or who has the final say?

 Animal prints, brocade and velvet Elvis boots at a Preview Ball (Preview)

CV: We don’t usually argue; we agree on it after trying different combinations and discussing the merits, what works best, what will get more likes on IG.

RT: If ever, I negotiate an exchange. Some colors really don’t look good on me and look better on Chito.  Or when there’s a new piece and I really want to wear it na, I plead in an extra-sweet tone.

CV: So now you know who has the final say.

Who are each of your favorite designers? Favorite brands, if any?

CV: Alexander McQueen because of the impeccable tailoring.

 Feeling young in ’50s Riverdale outfits for their birthday party

RT: I was always intrigued by Rei Kawakubo’s designs; she’s from another fashion planet altogether. Many of the Japanese designers, actually, like Jun Takahashi of Undercover. The Japanese really have their own universe apart from everyone else. But for formals, we actually stick to English classics like those on Jermyn Street in London.

CV: We always add a twist, though, like pairing the jackets with wild prints for trousers.

RT: We have to dandify it.

But I think all your glam outfits are by Chito?!

RT: Yes, of course, because couture is always best and you can make demands.

 Geeky at a Preview Ball (Preview)

CV: When I decide I have the time to do them.

Sometimes after one chooses, the other chooses a more stunning one, inciting a style war of outdoing one another until we’ve practically exhausted the whole closet of choices.

What’s your rule or mantra when it comes to dressing up?

CV: First of all, it should fit well.

RT: Yes, it’s a long night and you don’t want to be miserable in ill-fitting clothes.

 Woven H’mong coats with dress shirts and tuxedo pants at a Tatler Ball (Handpicked by Ron and Chris)

CV: The colors, of course, should fit you and the prints shouldn’t clash.

RT: Accessories are important as well, like shoes shouldn’t be an afterthought because they really complete a look. 

CV: Sometimes we work around the shoes, especially if it’s a new pair we want to wear.

RT: Jewelry, of course, like interesting cufflinks. Especially when you raise your glass for a toast, your cufflinks are seen so you want them to be pretty!

 Roman Emperor Hadrian and Antinous (historycollection.com)

CV: And jeweled buttons for tux shirts are important.

RT: With genderless fashion on the runways, even those crucial pearls of mother can be worn with a dress shirt.

Which are your fave outfits so far?

RT: So many, how hard to choose! Probably the one for Red Charity Gala 2018—the black and white brocade one with baroque angel embroidery appliques that Chito carefully assembled at the back, adding drama when you turned.

 Oscar Wilde and his boyfriend, Lord Alfred Douglas, in the 1890s (www.vintag.es)

CV: The obi suits for Red Charity Gala 2017 because of the opulence of the silk obi, which also had a whiff of Japanese imperial history and all the artisanal traditions of weaving. It brings to mind all the court ceremonies and rituals.

RT: Yes, actually, that’s one of my favorites, too, the suits looked so rich!

Banner and thumbnail caption: At home wearing embroidered Afghan coats as smoking jackets (Edric Chen for Esquire)