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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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Janine Taylor, June Alegrado, Jackie Lotzof, Frances Siao, Ina Ronquillo and Christine Pelaez

The NUSTAR Ballroom, a magnificent venue at the NUSTAR Resort and Casino in Cebu, sets the stage for last night’s first-ever NUSTAR Ball.

Black was the color of night at the Zee table.

Glamorous guests from Manila and Cebu converged at the NUSTAR Ballroom, an exquisite venue within the NUSTAR Resort and Casino in Cebu. The evening unfolded with a seated 5-course dinner. The opulent feast started with Beetroot Salmon Gravlax, adorned with caper berries, caviar, set with delicate edible flowers; and a main course of Compressed Pork Belly with Crackling Skin and Baby Scallops. Another highlight was the auction of coveted items like Dior and YSL handbags, a limited-edition Bulgari watch, and an exclusive 2-night stay in Nustar’s opulent 3-bedroom villa—complete with a private pool and a dedicated butler. The charity evening benefited the Cameleon Association, an NGO based in Iloilo City created in 1997 that developed a global approach to act on the causes and effects of sexual violence against children.

Nora Sol, Beth Go, Frances Siao and Marylou Ong

Ina Ronquillo, Maryanne Aboitiz and Jackie Lotzof

Designers Jun Escario and Philip Rodriguez

Philip Rodriguez with NUSTAR Malls two power ladies: May Adolfo and Joanna Salazar

Lana Osmeña with Mariquita Yeung

PJ Castillo and Kaye Abad with Cary Santiago

Drew Sarmiento with LV Manager Adrian Decuigan

Cary Santiago with Eva Gullas

Manila socialites Julie Boschi and Ching Cruz with June Alegrado

It was a night of elegance, luxury, and unforgettable memories as ladies in long gowns and gentlemen in black ties danced the night away.


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May 10 – Cebu City  |  Step inside a world of opulence where gold shimmers and diamonds sparkle. BVLGARI, the renowned Italian luxury brand, is celebrated for its exquisite gemstone jewelry, thin watches, perfumes, and leather goods. With a legacy dating back to 1884, BVLGARI has become synonymous with elegance and craftsmanship. The newest BVLGARI boutique opened last week at the sparkling The Mall at Nustar Resort and Casino, fast becoming the shopping destination for discerning consumers.

Eva Gullas, Jeffrey Hang, Jaja Chiongbian-Rama and Butch Carungay

Jeffrey Hang, BVLGARI’s Regional Marketing Director for South East Asia, flew in from Singapore to welcome guests. “We are happy to unveil BVLGARI to the Cebu market. This is the company’s 140th year, and BVLGARI celebrates this landmark with the Aeterna High Jewelry Collection in Rome this coming May 20, attended by all our global ambassadors like Zendaya and Black Pink” Jeffrey shares with us. The collection will be available in SE Asia later in the year and in the Philippines at the end of the year.

Leading the ribbon cutting was Joseph Muñoz (commercial director of Bulgari Philippines, Jeffry Hang (regional marketing director of Bulgari South East Asian operations, Pia Wurtzbach-Jauncey (Bulgari Ambasadress and Ms. Universe 2015), Allan Teo (chief operating officer of NUSTAR Resort and Casino and May Adolfo (mall director of NUSTAR Cebu).

Pia Wurtzbach-Jauncey, BVLGARI’s local Ambasadress and Ms. Universe 2015

Sheila Osmeña-Go and Jaja Chiongbian-Rama

Spotted at the event was Joseph Muñoz, Commercial Director of Bulgari Philippines escorting Pia Wurtzbach-Jauncey, BVLGARI’s local Ambasadress and Ms. Universe 2015, Allan Teo, Chief Operating Officer of NUSTAR Resort and Casino, Howard Go, Summit Media’s CEO and his wife, Cebuana Sheila Osmeña-Go as well as some of Cebu’s young fashionable set like Claudia Bezza Yeung, Marjay Ramirez, and Danessa Onglatco.

 Cebu’s Fashionable Set

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The Qipao As Interpreted by Innovative Filipino Designers: PHILIP RODRIGUEZ

The Qipao, an iconic symbol of Chinese fashion, takes center stage as we celebrate the Lunar New Year of the Wood Dragon. This singular closely-fitted garment crafted from the most opulent silks originated in 1920’s Shanghai. ZEE fashion editor Oj Hofer, has sought the creative insights of some of the Philippines’ most innovative designers for their interpretation of the elegant Qipao, also known as Cheongsam.

Cebu’s esteemed designer, Philip Rodriguez, pays homage to imperial attire with this stunning yellow silk brocade qipao. While adhering to the traditional cheongsam silhouette, Rodriguez infuses a touch of sensuality by incorporating see-through silk tulle panels along the waistline. Known for his timeless designs and culturally respectful creations, Rodriguez’s attention to detail is unparalleled. His embellishments are intricate and exquisite, showcasing impeccable taste and luxurious design without veering into ostentation. Take, for instance, his cheongsam for the Year of the Dragon. While it may seem daring compared to traditional sensibilities, Rodriguez maintains elegance by delicately veiling the wearer’s skin with sheer tulle on the cutout side panels. The front slit of the dress is cautiously calculated to strike the perfect balance between modesty and allure “I design for women who possess sophistication beyond their years, “ Philip emphasizes. “My clothes are crafted to evoke a sense of beauty and allure, leaving her feeling exquisite and confident.” As a seasoned designer, Rodriguez consistently achieves harmony in his designs. His qipao for 2024 seamlessly blends elements of royalty and sensuality, luxury and practicality, reflecting his mastery of the craft and his ability to create pieces that are truly elegant and well-balance.

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