Top 10 Filipino Fashion Designers You Need To Know

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Recently, I decided to pursue my passion in fashion design. Though I still want to be a Clinical Psychologist someday fashion design is something that I would love to do even if I don't get paid. I'm planning to take short courses on fashion design at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in few months. Inshallah!, if God's willing next year I will launch my modest active wear line. In the mean time here are the top 10 Filipino designers that I truly admire. I've been reading their personal blogs, following them on Facebook and Instagram, watched their interviews on TV. They are the inspiration of every 'fashionista' and fashion designer wannabe like me. I ranked them according to popularity and years of experience. 

Filipino fashion designers are known for their craftsmanship and the use of local materials such as pineapple, abaca, jute, jusi and other eco-friendly fabrics. These designers are also advocates of filipino culture which can be found in their designs.  They also share their talent to minority groups in Philippines. 

Puey Quinones
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He became famous when he teach fashion design to inmates from New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City. He was involved in "re-tagging" scandal but recently he moved to Los Angeles and made his mark in fashion industry in the United States. His life story can be a good subject for a movie.
Education: no formal training, worked as apprentice for designer Dennis Lustico and Lulu Tan Gan
Awards: Film documentary "The Most Fashionable Prison" about his work in prison won 2012 Kahuna Award
Label:  Puey Quinones
Famous Style: Hand-painted design, Transformers- multi-function clothes.
Celebrity Clients: Filipino celebrity
Claim to Fame: recent fashion show in L.A. and New York. His creations are now displayed in Philippine Embassy in New York.
Puey Quinones and supermoder and producer Jessica Minh Anh
Worl Trade Center New York
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Ezra Santos
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Education: Philippine Women's University
Famous Style: modern filipiniana, couture gown
Celebrity Clients: Paris Hilton, Colbie Collbiat, Shakira
Claim to Fame: Shakira wore his creation in a movie video "I can't remember to forget you"

Paris Hilton wearing Ezra Santos
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Mich Dulce
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Education: Ateneo de Manila, London College of Fashion, Central Saint Martin College or Arts and Design, University of the Philippines, Philippine International School of fashion, Fashion Institute of Technoloy, New York
Awards: 2002 finalist, Paris Young Designer's Competition
               1st Runner-Up Mega Young Designer's Competition
               2004 nominated Revolutionary Designer of the Year, MTV Style Awards
               2007 Fashion Designer of the Year for Streetwear, Mega Fashion Awards
               2010 International Young Creative Entrepreneur, London Fashion Week
Label:Store for all Seasons, Not Just A Label,
Famous Style: milliner, corsetiere, actress, 
Celebrity Clients: Lady Gaga, Paris Hilton, featured in American TV series Carrie Diaries, British music icon Adam Ant
Claim to Fame:actress in TV series John En Shirley, PBB Celebrity Edition, The Wedding
Lady Gaga wearing Kitty hat by Mich Dulce
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Francis Libiran
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Education: Architechture, University of Sto. Tomas. Fashion Design, Fashion Institute of the Philippines
Awards: Meagan Young won 2013 Miss World wearing his gown.
Fashion Brand: Francis Libiran
Famous Style: evening gown
Claim to Fame:America's Next Top Model request to showcase his creations featuring Anne Curtis, Marc Nicdao, and Mike Carandang
Tyra Banks
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Oliver Tolentino
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Education: Fashion Design School in Manila ( The school's  name was not mention in his website )
Awards: El Paseo Designer of the Week 2011, 2010 Sustainable Eco Fashion Award Winner.
Fashion Brand: Oliver Tolentino Couture
Famous Style: Eco-friendly designer gown
Celebrity Clients: Emily Rossum, Ceelo Green, Amber Riley, Fergie, Sophia Bush, Maria Menouno
Claim to Fame: Oscars' Designer Challenge
Fergie of Black Eyed Peas
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Monique Lhuiller
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Education: St. Theresa's College, Chateau Mont Choisi in Switzerland, Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in L.A. 
Awards: Fashion Council Fashion Designers of America, Presidential Medal of Merit - Philippines
Label. Monique Lhuiller
Famous Style: couture bridal gown in L.A and New York City, ready-to-wear designer clothes, evening gown, table wear, linens, perfume
Celebrity Clients: Britney Spears, Hillary Swank, Jennifer Lopez, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Swift, Katty Perry
Claim to Fame:Reese Witherspoon wedding gown
Reese Witherspoon
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Michael Cinco
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Education: University of the Philippines Diliman - Fine Arts, Central Saint Martin College or Arts and Design in London
Fashion Brand: Michael Cinco Haute Couture
Famous Style: Impalpable Dream Collection
Celebrity Clients: Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell,Sofia Vergara, Paris Hilton, Lady Gaga, Fergie
Claim to Fame:
America's Next Top Model contestant
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Education: De LaSalle - College of St. Benilde
Awards: several local and international awards including 
               2010- Asian Top Designer of the Year
               2008 People of the Year
Label : House of Laurel, Rags2Riches, collaboration with different local brands
Famous Style: Made to order couture and designer ready-to-wear
Celebrity Clients: All Filipino celebrities, Tyra Banks
Claim to Fame: guest "Philippines's Next Top Model", judge, "Project Runway Philippines"

Tyra Banks
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Education: Manhattanville College
Awards: Order of Lakandula, Philippines
               Peopling of America Award  from Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island Foundation
               BPInoy Award, Galeon Award - Philippines
Labels: Josie Natori, Natori, 
Famous Style: high-end lingerie, sleepwear,underwear, women's clothing, perfume and home furnishings
Celebrity Clients: Oprah Winrey
Claim to Fame: She was former vice president of a financial firm in Wall Street. Made deals with Bloomingdales, Avon, SaksFithAvenue and Target

Education: University of the Philippines
Awards: National Artist (Pending)
Famous Style: Maria Clara using raw materials from Philippines like jusi, pina and lepanto
Books: Kasalan and Philippine Costume
Celebrity Clients: First Ladies of the Philippines, Nancy Reagan, Pat Nixon, Betty Ford, Queen of Thailand, Bulgaria, Princes of Japan
Claim to Fame: Pending National Artist Award
1969 Miss Universe Gloria Diaz with Pitoy Moreno
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Before we think of buying imported brand name clothes, bags, and shoes we should think about Filipino designers first. There's a lot of struggling new artist in Philippines that needed our support. 
       - Farah M.
Do you agree with my top 10 list?

Do you have a favorite designer that I did not mention in the list?
Write your comments below and don't forget to share the article with your friends!!!

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Make-Up Your Mind: How Do You Define A Beautiful Woman?

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How do we define a beautiful woman?
by Farah M.

Mindy Kaling, actress, writer, comedian, producer

Influential women who speaks about women empowerment and equality like movie stars, pop icon, beauty queen and fashion models are oftentimes has light skin, skinny body and seen sexy outfit. Gone are the days when movie stars wear couture dress on red carpet now they are wearing see through dresses and underwear for formal event. When ordinary women look for role models especially teenage girls they also follow the way they dress and they behave in public.  I admire the likes of Mindy Kaling, Melissa McCarthy and Lupita Nyong'o who change concept of beauty in Hollywood. They are not your typical actress because they are also part of the people behind the camera working as writer, producer or director. They are also well educated women who celebrate their beauty and know to speak-up their minds. 

Melissa McCarthy- actress, comedian, writer,
 producer and mother of 2 

Lupita Nyong'o actress, film and music video director.
She has masters degree in acting from Yale School of Drama
Girls bully other girls because of their physical appearance. I once heard preschool kids talking they don't want to play with the other kid who wears fake UGG boots. As early as 4 years old kids knew the brand name of their clothes and shoes. It is sad that they value their friends with the clothes that they are wearing. Social media does not help in promoting positive self-image of women. We are posting endless selfie of Facebook and Instagram and hoping to get attention from strangers. Our self-concept become dependent upon the number of likes we get.  Cyber bullying on social media is one of the cause of suicide among teenage girls. Click the link New York Times Cyberbullying and Suicide of Teenage Girls

Fashion and cosmetic companies gave unrealistic concept of a beautiful women. According to research Make-up and cosmetic products are 35 billion industry as of 2010. In Asia and Africa products that promises skin whitening formula. We spent huge amount of our salary on cosmetic products, nail salon, facials, beauty salon to help us feel beautiful. But we are reluctant to invest on our career, our education or our innate passion. I admire Tyra Banks when she featured petite and overweight girls and girls with physical disabilities in America's Next Top Model. She made the girls understand that being a model is more than just the physical appearance it is more of their personality. 

I admire the Christian organization that promote modesty "Bod Squad Petition", a campaign that request fashion industry to promote age-appropriate clothing and advertisement. You can also check-out The Modesty Experiment by Lauren Jayne. She document her experience when she try to stop using make-up and wear modest clothing. 

Using cosmetic products sure has its benefits. Lipstick and lip balm can help moisturize and protect our lips from chapped lips especially during winter. On the other hand we should also be aware of the side effects of cosmetic products to our skin. Some cosmetic products contain chemicals that can cause cancer. Hair products may cause baldness. Click the link for more details of side effects of cosmetic products. 

Below is a time lapsed videos on Youtube on how ordinary women would look gorgeous with the help of make-up and Photoshop. Media always push the image of a perfect woman. A campaign to advertisers for mandatory disclosure of manipulating model's body through technology like Photoshop. Visit and search for idea9 if you want to support the campaign and to learn more. 

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Sub-consciously we are teaching our young girls that "Beautiful" means you need to have white skin, skinny, and has full make-up. Even Disney Princesses promote the concept that fair skinned lady is considered beautiful. Though most of the Disney Princesses are known for their beauty. It is our duty as adults to teach little kids to learn the lesson behind each princesses story. Like the courage of Mulan and Pocahontas, the kindness of  Cinderella, the artistic abilities of Rapunzel. Belle reads a lot and Jasmine choose the Alladin's character instead of her other suitor's. Jasmine was also against arranged marriage. The princesses are beautiful because of their unique characteristics that set them apart from other princesses. We can teach little girls that practicing good values is more important character of the princess not her hair or her gown. 

Princess Fiona and Shrek of Dreamworks proved that
 true love is accepting each others imperfections.

Pocahontas of Disney's Princesses
 is a real life story a Native American from Jamestown, Virginia

When I was young girl in Philippines I also admire movie stars who have light skin. Maybe because of the Spanish occupancy Philippines. Light skin or "mestiza" referred to ladies with Spanish blood. While "morena" or brown skin which is the predominant color of Filipino is not favorable in media. I tried almost every skin-whitening products available in drug stores but nothing works.  I thought I could make my brown skin fairer. I was always teased because of my skin tone. I have poor self-confidence growing-up because aside from being brown skin I am also short and my legs and feet are fat. I even asked my father why do I have these fat legs. I know I got it from his genes. He said I have to be thankful to God because I have legs. 

When I moved to New York City two years ago I learned to love skin. I accept the reality that I am brown skin and no matter what cosmetic products or advance medical treatment we use we cannot change the fact that I am brown. I saw people of different race they are confident of their skin. I see white women went to tanning salon to get my skin tone. Then I realized we should be thankful of the beauty that God gave us because it is our own unique identity. It is a combination of our parents genes and we should be proud of it. 

We should not be dictated by what the fashion industry, cosmetic industries and the mass media is telling us of what is beautiful. I belief that all women are beautiful no matter what race, skin tone, height or weight we have. Every Body is Beautiful!!!

Thank you for reading my blog. Comments and suggestions are welcome.