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The World of Tory Burch

Tory Burch and trusted interior designer Daniel Romualdez talk about how style and inspiration created a flagship store that properly represented the woman behind the name

Tory Burch and trusted interior designer Daniel Romualdez talk about how style and inspiration created a flagship store that properly represented the woman behind the name

Filipino women can’t get enough of Tory Burch. The American designer’s kaftans and ballerina flats are staples in the closets of every chic and well-travelled Pinay. She has a soft spot for the Philippines, having visited the country as a student, and now finding a trusted and ardent Filipino collaborator in Daniel Romualdez, the interior designer of her Manhattan home and stores all over the world.

I had the privilege of meeting Tory and Daniel at the opening of the Tory Burch flagship store in Madison Avenue in Manhattan, New York.  In a recent interview with the dynamic design tandem, Tory tells me about her inspirations, the future plans for her eponymous label and her commitment in empowering women beyond charity, while Daniel shares some of the secrets behind the chic and stylish look of Tory’s home and store interiors.

MELO ESGUERRA: The Philippines loves Tory Burch. I see so many Filipino women who are comfortably walking in your signature flats and tunics. But who is really the Tory Burch woman and how is she similar (or different) to the lady behind the brand?

TORY BURCH: Our customers are women of all ages and personal styles who live busy, multi-faceted lives. We want to make getting dressed in the morning effortless, so we focus on designing pieces that will help our customer feel pulled together — a trench, a cashmere t-shirt, a cigarette pant — but that also have unexpected elements. My design team and I also think about what we’re missing in our closets and hope that other women are looking for some of the same things too.

ME: When we learned about your creative partnership with Filipino interior designer Daniel Romualdez, we loved you even more. How did your collaboration with Daniel begin?

DANIEL ROMUALDEZ: We met while Tory and I were working on her apartment in the city and she showed me the work she was beginning to do on her brand. Initially we agreed it made sense for her to work with an interiors person who specialized in boutiques. But as she got deeper into the process of attempting to translate her brand into an actual retail space, Tory asked me to get involved; she felt that I understood her aesthetic. Since then I have worked with the company on all 73 stores.

ME: I thought your Spring/Summer 2012 collection was so beautiful. What are the inspirations behind your collections? What inspired your latest Fall/Winter line?

TB: Thank you! We draw inspiration from many places each season, whether it’s photographs of my parents from the ’70s, a painting by Gerhard Richter or a great song. For fall, one of our inspirations was Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love. The looks are polished but with subversive undertones — nipped waists, slim cuts and a lot of leather.

ME: I fell in love with the old townhouse that is now your Madison flagship store in New York, which has a fantasy and heritage element that ignites nostalgia and imagination, and you mentioned that you were eyeing it before it was even on the market. Tell us about the history of the house, and how relevant and significant is the house it is to Tory Burch.

TB: It’s a townhouse that was built in the 19th-century. The space has had special significance for me for many years; I used to go to the diner that was on the ground floor with my boys when they were little, and there was a hairdresser above it. When Daniel and I saw the gutted space years later, we were drawn to it instantly. We thought of it as a restoration rather than a renovation, keeping many of the special details from the 1800s and adding references that spoke to the aesthetic of our brand. We also embraced new inspirations, like the work of the (late) renowned French interior designer Madeleine Castaing — we share a love of bold colors with her — and ideas from our feng shui master to bring great energy to the space.

DR: We saw the space together for the first time after it had been gutted; only the perimeter walls and the raw space were left.  We reconstructed it to largely resemble what the building most likely looked like when it was originally built, but it was more our fantasy of that than an academically correct restoration. We took some liberties to make it very Tory.

ME: You both did a fantastic job in mixing different elements of design to the interiors to make it look like a collection of a world traveller and adventurer. I saw Asian touches amidst a European grandeur in the forms of the wooden boxes with mother of pearl details and some Chinese antique ceramics. What was the design philosophy behind it?

TB: I collect Imari and Ming china, vintage books and artisanal finds from antique stores and markets as I travel. I love the idea of mixing pieces that don’t seemingly go together and making them work, like the green velvet walls with gypsum accents in the Madison Avenue living room.

DR: Tory loves to travel and has toured extensively in Asia. She had even spent some time in the Philippines as a student. When she comes home from a trip she always brings back a few treasures, like the Chinese and Japan porcelain she collects. Since the stores are a reflection of Tory’s homes, we make it a point to include such objects in them as well.

ME: Please share with us the future plans of the brand. Will there be expansion of the brand? Will there be Tory Burch Home one day?

TB: We recently signed a partnership with Estee Lauder and are thrilled to be launching our first fragrance in 2013.  We are developing the scent and bottle design now.  Creating a home collection is on my wish list, but we’re taking our time. In terms of our stores, we are expanding in Brazil, China, Southeast Asia and the U.S. in the next few months.

ME: What are the causes and advocacies closest to your heart, and the contributions and efforts you’ve done to advance these causes?

TB: We launched the Tory Burch Foundation three years ago. As a working mother and someone who firmly believes in empowering women, I wanted to start a foundation to help women and their families. We are currently focused on microfinance and mentoring for female entrepreneurs in the U.S., and we hope to eventually diversify our programs and expand internationally. We have given over 50 loans of $8,000 each on average, and we have hosted mentorship events in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Hawaii where entrepreneurs can get the advice they need to grow their businesses. It’s important to me that the Foundation is not a charity; it’s helping women help themselves. That’s incredibly exciting.

ME: Allow us to understand your thoughts on style. As one of the world’s most stylish women, how do you define style? For those who aspire to emulate your style, any specific advice for them?

TB: Great style comes from trusting your instincts about what’s right for you. It’s about finding pieces that look great and help you feel like the best and chicest version of yourself.  When women ask for style advice, something I always go back to is, “Try not to follow trends too literally.” Look for timeless pieces you not only love but that work for your life, and feel free to put your own spin on them.

ME: You love to travel and you mentioned that you’ve been to the Philippines before. What was your experience like?

TB: I went for the first time during Semester at Sea, a college program that allowed a group of us to travel the world for six months, experiencing new cultures. I was a life-altering trip; the program truly gave me a global sensibility and awareness of issues facing people in other countries. I would love to visit again with family.

by Melo Esguerra photography Noa Griffel 


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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Rajo Laurel, Amina Aranaz-Alunan, and Bianca King Share Tips on How to Take Better Care of Your Clothes

To help keep your clothes in the best shape, check out these tips from Electrolux FashionCare Ambassador Rajo Laurel, along with the FashionCare Council members Amina Aranaz-Alunan and Bianca King.

Wear it well without wearing it out! That is the fashion philosophy shared by Electrolux, a
leading global appliance company from Sweden, when it comes to clothes. You don’t
need a lot of clothes to look stylish – just give them some TLC, especially when doing
your laundry.

To help keep your clothes in the best shape, check out these tips from Electrolux
FashionCare Ambassador Rajo Laurel, along with the FashionCare Council members
Amina Aranaz-Alunan and Bianca King. From washing to storing, these practical hacks
will help keep your clothes looking new for longer.

Check the Label
Acclaimed fashion designer Rajo Laurel shared that his number one rule when it comes
to caring for clothes is to check the care label, which teaches you everything from the
temperature, the kind of cycle and even instructions on drying, bleaching and ironing.
And if those laundry symbols look like hieroglyphics to you? Executive director and
teacher of SoFA Design Institute, and Creative Director of fashion accessories and bag
label ARANÁZ Amina Aranaz-Alunan’s practical tip: print out a guide that explains the
symbols for laundry instructions.

Caring for White Shirts and Tops
A staple in anyone’s wardrobe, the classic white tee is a great piece to build your
wardrobe around. It’s easy to dress up and down, going from casual to business-chic.
To keep your white shirt looking new, before washing, unbutton your shirt including its
cuffs and collar. Check the label recommendations for care guidelines. Use a laundry
detergent that contains bleach to really make your whites, white.

And if your white shirt or polo gets wrinkled easily, check if your washing machine has a
Steam or Vapour Care setting – this relaxes the fibres and removes odours to bring back
that soft, fresh feel to your white top.

Caring for Colours
Having coloured pieces is a great way to make a look pop but they are also prone to
fading faster than dark or white clothing. To help make sure your coloured garments
don’t lose their vibrance, sort your garments by colour before doing the laundry. Bright
clothes such as purples, reds and oranges can be washed together, so can bright blues
and greens. If a colour stands out on its own, consider washing it alone. Then check the
garment for stains and apply a small amount of liquid detergent to the stain and shake
gently in water. Turn your garments inside out to minimize rubbing of fibres. Choose a
low temperature and avoid hot settings that can cause fading. You can also use a gentle
wash cycle.

Caring for Jeans
Denim is durable but to make them last longer, especially the coloured and printed
denims or anything with a deep indigo wash, you need to give them extra special care.
The key to a long life is to wash at a low temperature and avoid over washing. First off,
be sure to wear your jeans for as long as possible before they are first washed to give
them a comfortable shape and a natural fade. Separate your jeans from white or other
brightly coloured clothes because they might bleed colour. Turn them inside out before
washing as well.

Dealing with Stains
The FashionCare Council members all share that it’s best to deal with stains
immediately. Soak or try to wash them off right away. For food and wine stains, Laurel
shares that he uses salt and soda water on the stains before washing as these help to
lift the stains.

Here are some other helpful tips to remove common stains: For ink stains, blot the
stained area with alcohol using a clean cloth and rinse thoroughly. For coffee stains,
first try using cold water through the back of the stain for 10-15 minutes. If the stain is
not fully removed, use liquid laundry detergent and a little cold water, or try using dish
washing liquid. Gently rub the liquid detergent or dish washing liquid with your thumb to
loosen the stain for about five minutes.

Proper Storage
The FashionCare Council members also shared that storage can play a role in keeping
clothes looking their best. Model and actress, Bianca King advised people to keep their
closets neat so you have a full account of everything you own and to know which items
should be hung or folded (if it’s a knit or weave). And speaking of hanging, Laurel and
Aranz-Alunan both mentioned the importance of using proper hangers – Laurel
mentioned avoiding those without foam defense as they could ruin the shape of clothes.
Another advantage of keeping a closet organized is it could help you plan your wardrobe
– you can rotate your pieces, as shared by Laurel, to help prolong their life.

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