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Here’s Why All Eyes Are On Designer Victoria Yabut

Choosing Cebuano manufacturers to handcraft her intricate pieces using metals, resin and rattan, designer Victoria Yabut introduces two bag lines that feature a fun character matched with sophistication.

Victoria Yabut smiles graciously as the team gushed over the collection of bags and minaudieres that were unwrapped for the photo shoot (and by team, I really mean just me). “I’ve always loved bags and fashion,” admits Victoria. “Growing up, I used to watch my mom get ready for work and events, and it was just something I grew up around. Rows of bags and belts and shoes and glasses in every shade.”

The Manila-based designer had flown to Cebu in preparation for her brand’s first launch in the City, which may come as a bit of a surprise considering her pieces are manufactured here. “If I wanted high-end and great craftsmanship, I knew I had to come to Cebu. Cebuanos are known for this,” Victoria explains. “I wasn’t wrong, because you will see their fine work in every piece that I have.”

A strict standard for quality is enforced in the production of each of Victoria’s pieces. Every finished bag is inspected, and made from only the finest available materials. Her current collections took ten months to complete, which included finding inspiration in different places. “Ideas just come to me. I am inspired by other people’s work, may it be furniture or fabric, weaves, art galleries,” she shares. “I start by drawing and, as of late, I have started painting my work on canvas. That way, you have a feel for the colors you want to use when I make it into a bag. I like touches of gold. Gold makes things more dramatic and expensive.”

An element of glamour definitely prevails in Victoria’s VSY Collection, a sophisticated line that features an array of handcrafted clutches. Playing on color and texture, each piece is a fashion statement of its own—some of my personal favorites include a minaudiere featuring colorful patterns in resin and a black and gold zebra print. The designer’s most memorable piece, though, is her very first. “It would have to be the T’nalak clutch,” she says, referring to the local fabric from Davao. “It’s a strong, powerful design. I was completely happy with how it turned out, and it just gave me the desire to keep coming up with more designs.”

But more than being satisfied with its aesthetic, Victoria has a deeper reason for being attached to this specific piece. “It’s a tribute to the women weavers of the T’boli tribe. I guess it would be a good representation of single mothers—that life and their children have made them strong. That there is beauty in adversity.”

Being a single mother herself, this is a statement that is close to Victoria’s heart. “In the back of my mind, it’s always my son that I think about. It’s leading by example that teaches them the most,” she says of the way motherhood inspires her. “He wants to be an architect. Someday, maybe he can join me in designing as well. I would love him to do something to complement his being an architect.”

Working with T’nalak also shows off Victoria’s other passion—working with local materials. “Being Filipino, you are also part of that story,” she explains. “Indigenous materials are my favorite, mostly because you’re bringing attention back to the Philippines.”

The effort to use local materials also comes to play in Victoria’s latest brand Vicsy. The line features a range of woven rattan bags shaped like fruits—the mango one, for example, is painted yellow and is a sunny accessory perfect for our tropical island. “I really wanted to focus on indigenous materials, but in a fun way, with bright colors to draw attention to what we usually bypass. Oftentimes, people take for granted the things they see everyday. I wanted to bring attention back to it in a fun and whimsical way.”

Creating, it seems, is an innate part of Victoria’s personality. Besides designing bags, she also paints and cooks. In fact, she is a chef by trade, graduating from the California Culinary Academy and Enderun, and had previously launched a baked goods line. Although that might not be completely related to bag design, she feels the principles that she picked up does help her in the process. “In the kitchen, I’m very quick. In my head, I know exactly what to combine. Sometimes I think it’s very innate,” she muses. “Once you master the basics, you have the confidence to deviate by removing and adding, and just coming out with a completely different dish. So in terms of hard work, I’m prepared. In terms of design, an artist will never run out.”

Considering all she does, we had to ask: what is a normal day like for her? “I wake up and have coffee, and check on my two English bulldogs, Marcus and Monty. By that time, my son Diego is already awake so I check on him. I make sure that everything is in order for the day, the menus are planned and my house is OCD-level clean. I then go to mass, and work begins,” Victoria narrates, before giving another smile. “I can’t call it work, though, because I love what I do. I can get lost in art.”


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Cebuano Haute Couture Shines at 2021 Cebu Wedding Expo

Photography by Rene Amodia

Forever at Soltana

by Allain Dumon Fonte

Soltana Nature Residences host the grandest wedding destination expo for 2021. In their grandiose Events at Soltana venue, wedding suppliers, event coordinators, events stylists, fashion designers, and exhibitors gathered to showcase their best to excited couples and clients.  The grand expo was opened by the Chairperson of Lapu Lapu City’s Tourism Commission and first lady of this historic resort city, Madam Cynthia Cindy King Chan; she was with city counselor, Hon.  Queenie Malingin Amman; Taft Properties COO and Vice President, Myra Lynn Gilig; Taft Properties CFO, Feliz Tiukenhoy; and Mr. Justin Gaisano of Taft Properties. 

Philip Rodriguez

To set the event’s mood, AD models Kevin Lahousse and Gingie Alducente acted as newlyweds joining the expo and leading the guests to the exhibitors’ booths.  Yet, the highlight of the event was the glamorous fashion show set in the world’s most visited wedding destinations, as the mannequins of AD models paraded the haute couture creations of Cebu’s A-list fashion designers.

Dexter Alazas

The show was opened by Miss Earth 2008, Karla Henry-Amman, wearing a bridal gown designed by Hanz Coquilla.  Her wedding mood was the historic streets and sceneries of Vigan, Philippines.  Coquilla created a Filipiniana-inspired bridal dress with perfectly constructed butterfly sleeves, exquisitely clean lines, and masterfully crafted bias skirt of balanced cones and flows.  Valerie Alvez showcased a bridal dress made of vintage Chantilly lace.  Alvez proved her skills in manipulating laces to be impeccable; the bow detail at the back added glamour to the dress, exuding luxury to the bride wearing Alvez’s masterpiece.  Wendell Quisido set her wedding theme to the dreamy beaches of Ipanema; and as her model glided on the runway, everyone in the audience dropped their jaws to the intricately detailed bridal dress that Quisido made. Quisido designed a bustier dress with well-balanced panels that wonderfully fitted the model’s figure; but what made Quisido’s dress jaw-dropping are the countless Swarovski crystals that covered the dress.  Dexter Alazas joined the fashion show with a 1920’s inspired wedding dress of vintage tulle and embroidered in the decade’s popular baroque patterns.  Alazas has shown the wonders of working with delicate fabrics and the opulence of vintage embroidery patterns.

Wendell Quisido

Valerie Alvez

The fashions show also brought us to the rich sceneries of Mallorca, Spain with Ren Manabat’s three-tiered wedding dress.  The labor-intensive layers upon layers of soft English tulle made Manabat’s artwork stand out, among others.  Another head turner is a dress that was carefully planned and architecturally constructed, the bridal gown designed by Protacio.  Protacio has obviously studied well which fabrics to use and how each fabric is sewn to the other to create an illusion of nudeness under layers of vintage Italian mesh. The dress was architecturally constructed like the Burj Khalifa where every piece sits perfectly with each other in harmony and balance.  Fashion connoisseur Marichu Tan-Geson created an extremely detailed bodice lined with Swarovski crystals, and a skirt made from layers of dotted soft English tulle.  Tan-Geson’s manipulation techniques on the soft tulle and how she delicately draped every layer of the tulle upon the other is interesting and intriguing.  With a work of art as beautiful as that, I could say that Tan-Geson is the Madame Gres of Cebu fashion.  The show ended with a groom and a bride wearing a 19th century English-inspired wedding ensemble by master couturier, Philip Rodriguez.  Rodriguez has proven once again his artistry and expertise in fashion by creating an empire-waist gown with ruffled sleeves made from dotted Italian mesh of 100% silk and vintage silk taffeta.  Rodriguez presented a truly elegant wedding dress; lesser on the intricacy but more on the richness of the materials being used.  The rarity of Rodriguez’s fabrics already makes his dress worthy to a MET gala exhibition. 

Ren Manabat

Protacio Empaces

Philip Rodriguez

The models wore the timeless and recherche jewelry collections from Royal Gem to match the bridal dresses of the featured designers.  Every jewelry piece is made to complement a woman who loves fashion and whose self-awareness dictates her own style.  From green sapphires to yellow diamonds, every jewelry piece is stunning.  No wonder why socialite and fashion icon, Heart Evangelista, loves and promotes Royal Gem. All models are wearing Shandar bridal footwear.

Philip Rodriguez

Marichu Tan-Geson

Hanz Coquilla

The Grand Wedding Destination Expo at the Events at Soltana will run until the 24th of May 2021 with exciting activities:  a maquillage session with Jessie Glova, a bridal make-up competition and show, a financial literacy session for new couples, a talk on real estate investments, a session  with Rod Bautista and Eddie Jamin from the Centerpiece Weddings and Events about wedding destinations in Cebu and the new norms in wedding celebrations, and a whole lot more of raffle prizes from Plantation Bar Resort and Spa, Solea Mactan Resort, Savoy Hotel Mactan, and others.

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CEBU’S GALLERY OF ROUGE: Mistress of Disinfo, Vixen of Vexation and the Duchess of Disorder

Ogle La La
By Alexandra Fortabat de Hermès

Cebu’s own Lady Whistledown is back after a long hiatus and talks about the naughty ones who comprise the initial #TroubleTrifecta, three ladies who you may or may not know…

It’s been eight years since someone’s picked up this particular (jewel-encrusted) quill so thought it rather apropos to begin sharpening those French-manicured talons and polishing our sardonic wits once again. After all — dear amigas — there is only so much Netflix one can watch, or peloton one can engage in, or caviar-topped foie to prepare, while we’ve all been locked down in our kubôs for well over a year!

To be sure the last twelve months have been a rollercoaster of emotions, a carousel of follies and a series of blunders that have reversed decades of growth resulting in historical levels of unemployment while a very few have been channeling  Winston Churchill’s adage of “never waste a good crisis” a bit too much. While we can go on and on about the bungled and disastrous government response, we will limit our political commentaries here as we have no interest – nor inclination — to open that rather voluminous Pandora’s box. 

The armoires that we will explore will belong to three types of our island’s “alta” sociedad who – in this last revolution around the sun – made us cringe and bust out many tubs of popcorn through their sheer audacity, lack of sensitivity, and overall dopiness.  This –  ladies (and lady wannabes) – is therefore the debut edition of the  #TroubleTrifecta.

The first is that amiga who, by choice or plain predilection, just cannot keep her facts straight.  Let’s call her Mistress of Disinfo coz one simply cannot trust what comes out of her well-lined lips or read from her often convoluted (and run-on) status updates. In this age of ubiquitous and nearly instantaneous information and the proliferation of fake news, the least one can do is check the veracity of what one puts out in the social media realm.  As with anything else, quality is key!

The next Vixen of Vexation is that overbearing arriviste who is desperate to bowdlerize her courtesanal past by plastering her obviously enhanced and Gluta-enabled mug on every surface (and platform) known to modern man.  This self-proclaimed Madame Multiverse is quick to brandish her (dubious) accomplishments, has an affinity for B (or C?) rated actors and milks her closeness to certain members of the Old Guard.   In her perpetual quest for legitimacy and acceptance by the upper echelons, perhaps this Señorita aspirant should heed the advice of  Malcolm Forbes when he declared: “How to Succeed: Try Hard Enough; How to Fail: Try Too Hard.”

Our last Duchess of Disorder is definitely NOT the least in this Gallery of Rouge and has actually been the source of not just consternation but of many a disruption – and not in a good way.  This Soaper Woman is so-called due to her propensity to air out all her filthy lavada to anyone who will listen or bother to read her IG stories. Besides giving any Grammar Nazi a massive coronary, this Fräulein of Fracas has been known to commit acts of arson, has no qualms of engaging in online character assassinations AND seems to have a never-ending bevy of skeletons that are constantly feasting in her many closets. 

Ladies, please!  While we have to admit that we derive a certain guilty pleasure from your virtual explosions and implosions, they do get very prosaic – very quickly.  Discretion, like intelligence and proper manners, truly never goes out of style.

So there you have it folks. These tumultuous times we live in certainly do not need any more brouhaha so  please remember to be precise, don’t try too hard and always maintain a  certain sense of delicadeza. Not only will your lives be simpler and more pleasurable but maybe, just maybe, you may finally crack that clique that you’ve been clawing your way to be a part of.  

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New Year’s Eve Dressing for 2020

What’s an ideal New Year’s Eve soirée outfit? Three of Cebu’s young fashion designers share their suggestions for the ladies on how to ring in the year 2020 in style…

“Holiday dressing is all about sheer skin and comfort. A silver gray palazzo jumpsuit with sheer lace cut-outs is in order.” -Mikhail Achas, Fashion Designer

“Holiday dressing is all about clean lines and sophistication. A tailored blacked tea dress with godet insertions will totally give out a modern vibe with a toast to the 50s.” -Bree Esplanada, Fashion Designer

“I chose this design because it is so comfy and light. The raffles make it look elegant and versatile for different events, like awarding ceremonies or a New Year’s Eve party.” -Eve Navales, Fashion Designer



Something to watch out for this year from these young designers will be their collection exclusively designed for the cast of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues for V-Day Cebu 2020, which will be staged in March. For more information, visit the Facebook page V-Day Cebu.

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