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Jun Escario: Chapter XX

On the 20th year of his career, Jun Escario shares thoughts on his personal and professional evolution, and an outlook that has made him a staying force in the fashion industry. As he presses forward, he takes a more minimal design aesthetic and now subscribes to a lifestyle that he declares monastic.

On the 20th year of his career, Jun Escario shares thoughts on his personal and professional evolution, and an outlook that has made him a staying force in the fashion industry. As he presses forward, he takes a more minimal design aesthetic and now subscribes to a lifestyle that he declares monastic.

Much has been said and written about Jun Escario, which isn’t at all surprising considering his impressive tenure, which includes many high fashion editorials, awards like the Best Philippine Designer from the French Concourse International in 2002, and a loyal roster of clientele that boasts names often seen on the best-dressed list. But he sees no point in talking about the past here.

Twenty years in the fashion industry has turned the once enfant terrible poster boy into today’s heir to the throne of luxe. After partying hard and taking in the intoxicating highs of the fashion world, Jun has admittedly turned monastic—and by monastic, he means staying home more often or walking his cuddly Chihuahuas Flick and Georgie on Sundays. It seems life has taken on a more leisurely pace, his spot on the dance floor has turned over to others too young to remember his gyrating days. Now, Jun’s version of luxury has turned into something simpler: solitude in the midst of the chaotic world of fashion, silence against the voices of trends and caprices, and permanence versus the ever-shifting plates of personal taste and preference.

That’s not to say he’s completely disappeared off the radar. When in Manila, his time is divided between shuffling between his shop in Greenbelt 5 and his atelier at the LPL Towers, and attending social engagements. After all, visibility is key to being a top player in the glam world of the Philippine capital. “So much of my late afternoons and evenings are spent hopping from one event to another, a rather taxing social life that I enjoy no matter how limited my time is,” Jun explains.

It’s a busy schedule that makes Jun pray for a saint’s gift of bilocation. “I shuttle between Manila and Cebu every week,” he says. “I spend three days in Manila and four days in Cebu, and add to that Panglao Island in Bohol during the coming months. Can I divide myself into three equal parts?” he deadpans.

His shop in Cebu has since moved to the family residence, devoted to RTW production while catering to a reasonably healthy clientele that has stuck it out with him through the years. “These are clients who have seen me evolve as an artist through the years. In turn, I too have been a witness to their career changes, lifestyle choices and personal growth. They have become friends, almost family even.”

Jun takes pride in being part of his client’s personal moments, but weddings are extra special. “To me, wedding gowns are a joy to work on. To capture and fulfill a bride’s ardent wish to be most beautiful on her wedding day is a privilege that only fashion artists get to have,” he shares. “After 20 years, I am now in a stage where I am doing the wedding gowns of second-generation clients! So I’ve seen their rites of passage, and my diminishing hairline is proof of that. But my body hasn’t aged a bit,” Jun laughs, tickled by his own narcissism.

Jun’s take on glamour and sophistication is unaffected, as if it’s a concept that comes all too naturally with him. “There are many who equate sophistication and glamour with being cold, distant and unreachable. That is so untrue,” he negates. “Real sophistication is warm, approachable and very personal. One does not wear glamour, one lives it.”

Such is the philosophy of Jun Escario that he finds it imperative to know his clients on a more personal level. “An artist needs inspiration,” he explains. “Each person has that innate sense of sophistication and glamour. My job is to let that out, until it exists confidently on its own in a very casual and natural manner.”

His ability to create dresses that fit to his clients’ lifestyles might ultimately be the reason why many have been patronizing his designs for years. “I make dresses that my clients will feel good and be comfortable in,” he says. “I start by looking at my client’s shape and personality before even making a sketch.”

Mirroring his newfound appreciation for the laidback life, his clothes now show a crisper side to his design philosophy. “I used to do body-hugging shapes with stretchy fabrics,” he shares. His former collections that highlighted feminine curves was never gauche though; in fact, a telling sign of Jun’s degree of tastefulness is his ability to create plunging necklines and thigh-high slits that are more charmingly alluring than completely risqué. “It’s something I can still do, but it would depend on the situation. I want to do more mature and cleaner cuts, but of course, it will still be sexy.”

His years of experience have given him the tools to keep up with the changing industry. “It’s about loving your craft and finding happiness in what you do,” he shares. “There are certain things that are important in being a designer, like making sure to communicate with your client, and staying current without being dictated by trends. But in the end, it’s about being comfortable with change.”

But perhaps the reason why Jun Escario remains such an influential force in Philippine fashion is creative integrity, which he insists is his staying power. “Take the Fashion Council, for example. There is true respect among its members who have individually made their marks on the industry, like Philip Rodriguez, Arcy Gayatin and Oj Hofer, among many others. These artists have worked hard to establish their individual styles and approaches to fashion. They have honestly paid their dues.”

Of course, there are some things about the local fashion industry that could stand a change. “There are quite handful of designers who make business out of being copycats. Their work is but cheap versions of another designer’s work. And what’s worse is that these already cheap versions have even cheaper mutations. Where is the integrity there?”

“The thing with the business of glamour is that there only two choices to make: either you copy or you make your own; either you follow trends or you set them; either you set your own individuality or settle for mediocre similarities,” he advises. “These designers should learn. It is okay to take inspiration from other artists, but to copy almost completely? That’s another story.” Jun, though, is the first to admit he’s had some missteps. “I also made mistakes along the way. And I guess the best lesson I learned in my 20 years is that nothing beats being your own man, being true and honest to your artistry. That’s a good way to make the news.”

It’s a philosophy that’s clearly working, with Jun being a relevant fixture in local design and showing no signs of stopping. His wilder days may be tempered, but there’s still a hint of feistiness that comes through, which makes his followers look forward to what’s to come. After all, if there’s one thing that hasn’t changed after 20 years, it’s that Jun can still do something completely unpredictable.

Monastic Marrakech “Solitude has become my friend. Silence is now a constant companion, and reverence is my state of mind. After 20 years in the fashion industry, I felt it was time to come up with a more quiet collection. I wanted the freedom to explore nothingness, to work with very little details and rely more in a fabric’s natural fall—how it relates to gravity and how it responds to movement. It is, to some extent, a form of fashion asceticism yet created for a cosmopolitan market. How do you become monastic in a place like Marrakech? How does an artist create in silence in order to inspire the noise of awe? This is what my 20th year collection is all about.”

Jun Escario celebrates his anniversary this month by partnering with Zee Lifestyle for a runway show that showcases a collection symbolizing his evolution as a designer. With the theme Monastic Marrakech, the show promises to present his clothes in a dramatic fashion and, really, his clothes deserve no less.

  • by Shari Quimbo
  • photography Dan Douglas Ong
  • modelAR Dueñas (M.A.C. models)
  • fashion assistant Rei Escario
  • hair and make up Gari Son
  • creative direction Doro Barandino

inside

LADY CYCLISTS HIT THE ROADS AND SLOPES OF CEBU.

Cycling has been a growing sport and hobby for many years but it’s popularity has erupted since the Covid pandemic.  People biking to work and for recreation is an everyday sight in Cebu.  More and more are joining the ride.  Many are quite serious about cycling.  I know three ladies who are among those who’ve gone long distances across Cebu.

How did you get into serious cycling?  What was your motivation?

Blinky de Leon.  Event Host, Product Endorser & Influencer

“ I’ve been into cycling since I was a kid. A little backstory, I was around 10 years old when my dad surprised me with my first custom-made mountain bike. I still keep it until now, in fact I had it refurbished. It’s the most sentimental thing I ever received since it was his way/gesture to catch up with me after not seeing each other for almost 6 yrs. My dad is based in Germany and he also loves cycling and makes his own bamboo bike.”

 

“Just a year ago though, my friend Gazini randomly, out of nowhere, picked me up from home to bike with her to the South of Cebu. I felt really excited and motivated to get back on track because it’s very nostalgic and brings back so many great memories. And since then, the rest was history. We’ve been joining different groups, tried different routes and conquered different heights. I’ve met so many cyclists with very inspiring stories in the bike community who kept me feeling motivated too. I also look forward to the sights and the adventure that comes along with it.”

 

Yumz Mariot. Branding & Marketing Consultant

“I used to bike along with rock and wall climbing. I am lousy with ballgames which is why. Our usual route were Talamban and Mactan but one time, managed to ship gears all the way to Dumaguete for a quick ride to Valencia, the next town located at a higher elevation. Those were days when I did it for fun and what bike I was using did not matter.”

“Fast forward to 2021, a year after the pandemic lockdown began, I realized I have been lazy to do any fitness routine. Too caught up on juggling between house chores and Work from Home deliverables (I work as a Branding and Marketing Consultant), I started to feel my body needs to move as much as my brain does. A hysical fitness routine is as important as what I eat, or what I read or watch. So I decided to invest on a decent MTB, just very recently and got myself a much necessary restart. What motivates me even more is the area where I currently reside at. It is vast, fresh, green and safe for solo bikers like me.”

 

Prime Sarino. Digital Media Creative

“I started biking as a young teenager and I got the idea to start it as an adult hobby 3 years ago. I was already into running and I thought it would be great to venture into another outdoor activity to keep me occupied after work hours and weekends. I was set to travel for a year so I had to put aside the idea first but came pandemic. We were all forced to stay put and everything was put on hold. Cycling became my diversion. My cyclists friends invited me to quick and short rides. I enjoyed my first 50km ride and the sceneries and routes most of all. It also helped channel a positive mindset during the hard hit season of the pandemic. Not to mention it’s also another way to stay fit when we were forced into inactivity during the quarantine.”

Next in Part 2, we ask the ladies about their cycling experiences and memorable moments…

by: Zen

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People

#CebuPride:  Cebuanos in Multi-awarded Pride-Themed Films

Multi-awarded International Gay Movies with Cebuano Lead Casts

By:  Allain Dumon Fonte

 

Pride-themed movies are starting to invade the film industry as people become more accepting and are more intrigued on the stories about LGBTIQ.  Many have shared the intensity of emotions and laughed with the craziest jokes on gay-themed movies.  In the Philippines, these kinds of movies were questioned as to their morality and their message to the society.  The strong influence of the country’s religious standards had branded gay-themed movies as sex-oriented and nothing more.  Yet, with Thailand’s more tolerant culture, Thai BL (Boy’s Love) movies and television series have created a new perception to the viewers; and that is gay-themed movies are remarkably alike to all other movies – there is romance, comedy, drama, and the continuing struggle of living like normal people.  Hence, Thai BL TV series have a massive following all over Asia.  At the end of 2019, they became available in Netflix and are being watched by millions of viewers all over the world.

ZEE’s Allain Fonte with the casts of the top-rating Thai BL series (2019) “Cause You’re My Boy” of GMMTV (from L-R) Amp Phurikulkrit Chusakdiskulwibul, AJ Chayapol Jutamas, Neo Trai Nimtawat, Frank Thanatsaran Samthonglai, ADF, Drake Laedeke, Phuwin Tangsakyuen, and JJ Chayakorn Jutamas.

The Philippine film industry is not that far from Thailand’s.  Some of the LGBTIQ-themed movies and television series are slowly getting a following in Asia and are now accessible to viewers worldwide.  A few of these pride-themed movies that casted or directed by a Filipino have already been receiving nominations and awards from Golden Globe, The Berlin Film Festival, the Venezia Film Awards, and even the Emmy’s…and the Filipinos in these films hail their roots from Cebu!

 

1. Lingua Franca

 

Lingua Franca is a film directed by a Cebuana, Isabel Sandoval.  Sandoval also plays the main character of the movie, and she even wrote the screenplay.  Lingua Franca tells the story of Olivia, an undocumented transgender woman in New York who works as a caregiver to a senile old-lady of Russian-decent.  When Olivia is challenged to attain legal status in the US, she is left with a “marriage-based green card”.  While in search for her groom-to-be, she becomes romantically involved with Alex, Olga’s grandson.

The film is now available on Netflix and has received positive reviews from the media.  Stephen Dalton of the Hollywood Reporter wrote Lingua Franca is a “heartfelt personal statement rooted in timely, gripping issues that obviously resonate deeply with its author, notably trans rights and Trump-era immigration anxieties”.

 

Isabel Sandoval wearing Marchesa at the Venezia Red Carpet in the Venice Film Festival (2019)

Isabel Sandoval graduated summa cum laude with the degree in psychology from the University of San Carlos in Cebu, Philippines.  In New York, she pursued graduate studies in Film at NYU.  She is now currently residing in NYC, and already has award-winning films under her belt like Apparition, Lingua Franca, Senorita, Ritwal, The Unstoppable, and Judgement.

 

2. The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story

This television series was aired in Netflix and has gained so much popularity because it showed the murder of world-renowned fashion designer, Gianni Versace, by a serial killer, Andrew Cunanan.  Based on Maureen Orth’s book Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History, this television series has 9 episodes of suspenseful scenes, and is star-studded with casts like Ricky Martin and Penelope Cruz.  However, the main actor who played Andrew Cunanan is Darren Criss who gained his popularity after being a regular on the top rating TV show, Glee.  Darren Criss hails his roots from Cebu, Philippines.

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story received positive reviews from critics. At the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards, it received 9 nominations, and won 3 awards, including Outstanding Limited Series and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for Darren Criss.

 

Darren Criss with his dad (left) Charles William Criss, and his mother (right) Cerina Criss. Source

Criss was born and raised in San Francisco, California, USA.  Criss was raised as a Roman Catholic and attended roman catholic schools.  He later moved to Michigan where he studied Bachelor of Fine Arts major in Theatre Performance and minor in music at the University of Michigan.  Criss’s father, Charles William Criss, is a banker and served as CEO of the East West bank in Honolulu, Hawaii.  Criss’s mom, Cerina, is a native of Talisay, Cebu, Philippines.  When he was younger, he visited Cebu a couple of times with his mother.  Darren Criss is very proud of his Cebuano roots and wants to portray Filipino characters in films and in theatres to promote visibility of the Filipinos in the American films.

 

3. The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela

     The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela premiered at the 2008 Berlin International Film Festival where it grabbed the Teddy Award for Best Feature Film.  It was also awarded the Grand Jury Prize in the 10th 2008 Cinemanila International Film Festival at Malacañang Palace’s Kalayaan Hall.  It starred Raquela Rios also known as Minerva to her Cebuano friends.  Raquela  is a local of Mandaue City, Cebu, Philippines.  The film is directed by Icelandic film director, scriptwriter, and producer, Olaf de Fleur Johannesson.

 

Raquella Rios in Bangkok’s MRT (a scene in a Thai film).

Raquella Rios is a native of Mandaue City, Cebu, Philippines, and she went to the University of San Carlos in Cebu, studying sociology and anthropology.  Before finishing her studies, Raquella left the Cebu and went to Iceland after being casted by Icelandic film director, scriptwriter, and producer, Olaf de Fleur Johannesson for the movie The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela.  She is now based in Bangkok, Thailand as a fashion stylist and wardrobe assistant to some local Thai movies.  Raquella is also an activist for sex workers rights and trans rights in Southeast Asia; pushing for the recognition on the choice of their gender and the right to change their birth names.

Raquella (right) with film director Olaf de Fleur (left) receives the Best Feature Film Award at the 2008 Berlin International Film Festival in Germany. Photo grabbed from Berlinale archives.

There are still plenty of pride-themed films in the Philippines that gained recognition all over the world; yet these movies mentioned are special because of the talented Cebuanos that have  brought Cebu to world.  They truly are #CebuPride.

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Fashion

37 Years of High Fashion; Arcy Gayatin leaves a Legacy of Edginess and Elegance

Arcy Gayatin: A Legacy of Luxury in Fabrication

 

By:  Allain Dumon Fonte 

 

The brand Arcy Gayatin gave the Queen City of the South a distinct reputation in the fashion industry.  The fashion line of Arcy Gayatin sets the bar higher each year for clothing luxury and fabrication techniques.

 

April Duenas, Nikki Gayatin and Arielle Gayatin for Arcy Gayatin—Photos by John Paul Autor from Lifestyle Inquirer.net

 

Araceli “Arcy” Ancajas Gayatin is the daughter Galileo Ancajas and Remedios Zanoria Ancajas who founded Cebu’s home brand, Gal’s Bakery.  Arcy went to the University of San Carlos and studied Political Science.  And just like Dr. Muccia Prada, who completed her Ph.D. in Political Science and established the luxury line of Prada, Arcy also got in touch with her artistic side and started her own fashion line.  However, it was not Prada that influenced Arcy.  Arcy was introduced to fashion and tailoring at a very young age by her mother, Madame Remedios Anacajas whom they dearly call Mama Eme.  Mama Eme was running a tailoring business back then.  It was called Arabel; named after Arcy and her sister Belma.  Ara from Araceli and Bel from Belma.  In those years, Arcy was fascinated by fabrics and was intrigued by how to manipulate the fabrics to come up with fashion-forward designs without compromising comfort and taste.

 

Arcy Gayatin (photo grabbed from Space Philippines Blog Spot)

 

After 37 years of creating haute couture pieces for the most fashionable personalities in the Philippines, Arcy Gayatin is now laying down her sketchpads and pens to rest.  As she enjoys her retirement, may be on a cruise to the Bahamas or a holiday to the Swiss Alps, Arcy Gayatin has left the fashion industry a legacy of elegant and edgy clothing ensembles that understand and define the shape of women; without compromising comfort and good taste.

 

Arcy Gayatin’s Pink Flamingo collection                                               Arcy Gayatin’s Sketch on a Terno

 

To salute the lady who brought Cebu fashion to the world, a retrospective exhibition of Arcy’s incomparable masterpieces can be seen today at Ayala Center Cebu’s The Gallery; curated by fashion editor and writer, Clint Holton Potestas, and interior and fashion designer, Jul Oliva.

 

BALANCE.  Arcy Gayatin is known for her perfect symmetrical lines when fabricating.  She knows how to balance edginess and class; understanding well the strength and the finesse of a woman.

 

RHYTHM.  Arcy’s expertise in draping and fabric manipulation can be seen in how she achieves rhythm between architectural lines and soft fabrics like silk and cashmere.

 

TEXTURE.  With her thorough knowledge on fabrics, Arcy Gayatin has achieved the perfection of fabrication by working on different types of fabrics and creating a single piece of art out of them. 

 

HARMONY.  The simplicity of the silhouette plus the intricacy of the details create a wonderful harmony, making Arcy Gayatin’s design a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.

           

The photos below show an up-close look at the intricacy and the exquisite craftsmanship of Arcy Gayatin’s fabrication techniques:

 

THE SPIDER WEB:  one of Arcy’s genius fabrication techniques.

 

MATCH and PATCH:  Arcy’s unique fabrication craft by patching layers of different types of lace and lace patterns

 

PLEATS: The perfection of symmetry in pleats on silk.

 

LA ROSE BLEUE:  U.P. student, Danielle Alessandra Deutsch, inspired by the artistry of Arcy Gayatin, designed this midnight blue dress.   The cabbage rose made from layers of silk organdy gave this evening ensemble a romantic appeal.

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