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It’s child’s play for junior fashionistas

By LISA GUERRERO NAKPIL, The Philippine STAR Published Dec 29, 2020 4:00 pm

Vares Jeune is Robbie Santos’ first foray into bespoke fashion, focusing on the child who has everything and needs the wardrobe to enjoy it. 

 “I love designing for children,” exclaims Robbie Santos, creative director for the kids’ couture line Vares Jeune. “They have no hips, no hang-ups — it’s so easy! Children are not demanding,” he says. Once the parents have given him a free hand, he adds, creating their ensembles are both fulfilling and fun.

In truth, Vares Jeune was Robbie’s first foray into bespoke fashion, focusing on the child who had everything and needed the wardrobe to enjoy it.  Pre-pandemic, for a certain kind of offspring, it was a social whirl of first communions and confirmations, stints as flower girls and ring-bearers, birthday parties, noche buenas and New Year’s Day lunches. Robbie’s artistry has been called upon by clients for baptisms all the way to “twinning” — the 21st-century word for mother-daughter sets — with Mommy dearest. The clientele are from a few months to 12 years old. (His couture line for grownups is called Septième Rebelle and was developed much later.)

 Ruby-red Christmas: Floral blouse with ruffled skirt, worn with a handmade headband by Vares Jeune

“Its luxury wear for the under-teens,” he explains. “The brand offers the classic and traditional methods of made-to-measure children’s wear, the European way. Vares Jeune is all about the best life has to offer. We never scrimp on materials, we never overpromise, and we always deliver on time. I try to set the label apart by offering top-of-the-line fabrics and methods. I am, of course, trying the be the best children’s-wear designer I can possibly be.”

  Holiday cheer: Buttermilk silk jacket with light wool trousers

Indeed, Vares Jeune started as a hobby for Robbie in 2016 that turned professional two years later in 2018. “I actually have a collection of kiddie couture by Christian Dior, Stella McCartney and so forth,” he chuckles. “I study the clothes and pick them apart. I want to be sure that Vares Jeune is keeping up with international luxury standards.

 Nutcracker sweet: Dress with cotton bodice and long ballerina tulle skirt; with Spanish lace trim at waist

For Christmas 2020, he has focused on “the classic” in cut and color in view of the sobering effects of the pandemic. For this holidays wardrobe, its likewise a serene palette of cream, gray, some mauve and blue, as well as pine green.

 A Christmas carol: Linen shirt with embroidered sleeve, worn with ivory trousers

He adds, “I wanted to stay with the tried and tested, nothing too adventurous. There is minimal beading and more use of the embroidery machine to get around having a lot of handiwork specialists come in.” As it is, Robbie works with a dressmaking team, another team for tailoring and yet another team for the all-important finishing.

 Deck the halls: With grosgrain ribbons, perfect accents for a floral pantsuit.

The girls’ dresses have longish ballerina skirts that, says Robbie, “lend an air of conservatism and classicism, which is what Vares Jeune is all about.”

  Dinner at eight: Dinner jacket with cord accents on cuffs

Handmade touches such as floral or sequined headbands have always been a signature accessory for his designs. “I’ve also used grosgrain ribbons as embellishments since Day One. I like how it instantly uplifts an outfit in ways big and small, depending on where it is used and how much of it.”

 Silent sequined night: Dress with sequined bodice worn with a long cotton and tulle ballerina skirt

The boys are in jackets of raw Indian silk or in formal shirts with asymmetric accents. “I was thinking of something that they could wear to a dressy occasion, even if it’s just at home, but that was also light-hearted.”

  Northern lights: Silver silk dinner jacket worn with navy and white houndstooth trousers; grosgrain ribbon stripe accents on the trousers

Does he have any advice for the parents of a junior fashionista? Robbie suggests the following: “Rule Number One: It’s all about comfort and safety. We use pure silk or pure cotton or pure linen. If we use synthetics, we always tell the client. Of course, all the fabrics are washed before they are cut and sewn.”

 Joy to the world: Lilac crepe blouse with lace accents and micro-ruffles, worn with matching beaded skirt

“Next is Rule Number Two: Allow your daughter and son to dream. If she wants to be a princess — or a witch — let her have that outfit. If he wants to be a Power Ranger or whatever superhero, let him be one,” he continues.

 The first noel: Blue silk dinner jacket with mandarin collar, worn with charcoal-gray trousers

Finally, Robbie says, “There’s Rule Number Three: Let kids choose their own colors to wear. Stop stereotyping that blue is for boys and pink is for girls. Boys can wear pink and lilac. Girls can wear navy blue and gray.”

Sounds like the art of dress-up will be child’s play with Vares Jeune.

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To find out more about the Vares Jeune holiday collection, check out IG: @varesjeune or contact 0917-814-2675.