Written by Helen Grace Rubio

As a child I always see my Kuya, doodling at the back of his notebooks or clipping newspaper sketches of Society Weddings or women dressed up in gowns. His favorite sketches were “The French Renderings of Loretto for Pitoy Moreno.” He would try to emulate each sketch every afternoon, instead of playing outside.

Our Lola would always take my Kuya to ballet recitals, art exhibits, society parties and museums. When he goes home from these trips, he had already made a sketch of a lady who wore the most beautiful dress. He would tell me in excitement the details of that beautiful dress, while he brings out his colored pencils to add color and details to finish his sketch.

I did not have the luxury of having a Barbie doll before but my paper dolls were always fashionable. Eventhough they are just paper dolls their wardrobe were drawn out from Vogue thanks to my Kuya. At a very young age, Kuya already has an extensive collection of Vogue magazines. Instead of buying Archie, he would rather save up for the latest issue of Vogue.

When it’s time for our Recognition Day, whether it’s his, mine or our other siblings’. He will be the one who will pick out our mother’s outfit for that day. They will go to Christian Espiritu,Patis Tesoro and pick out what would suit our mother best. Every fitting session to him is like an educational trip that would feed his fashion sense and passion. And he would always say that he is more proud that our mother was wearing a Christian Espiritu  than going up the
stage to receive an award.

I knew he wanted to be a designer because I see that is his passion. For practical reasons he shied away from his passion, when he graduated from the University of the Philippines Diliman it was Prom Season for me.

This event I could say,  ignited his passion more. He would buy tons of magazines  trying to find a look for me. I requested to have a Larry Espinosa gown, but that eluded us due to his busy schedule. Instead we went to the talented Cocoy Lizaso.

On the first meeting he brought tons of magazines and swatches of fabric. To Cocoy’s surprise he was more into every little detail than the one who will attend the prom. Instantly Cocoy saw his passion and potential to pursue fashion. He encouraged him and let him turn my prom dress as his first haute couture project.

He said, ” I owe my beginnings to Cocoy Lizaso, if it wasn’t for him I will not have pursued my lifelong dream.”

From a prom dress, to being an apprentice, to enrolling in LaSalle College International Manila the rest was history.

After graduating from LaSalle he came on his own and opened his very own shop.  He never patronized his works to his friends, because he wanted his work to speak for itself. He just started working on people who would drop by his shop. They would always be drawn from the display on his window shop. By word of mouth and referrals from clients, he became known for his craft. Like a secret garden waiting to be discovered.

His clientele, ranges from politicians to ambassadors, brides from anywhere in the world to local kids who just want to look cool in their prom night. His design process comes complete with images of his clients’ hairstyle, jewelries, make-up, shoes, bags, to the color of the nail polish to be worn on that event. He has an eye for detail and a true soul of an artist.

He draws inspiration from his travels, the different cultures he would come across, classic films, paintings, architecture or a couple’s love story. Kuya’s magic, aside from his obvious talent, is his ability design a gown based on the wearer’s personality and body type.  He will find the fine attributes to highlight and enhance. Making each design close to a woman’s heart.

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