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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 


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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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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