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Designer Spotlight: Ito Curata

The red carpet veteran on fashion, fame, and coming home.
Designer Spotlight: Ito Curata The red carpet veteran on fashion, fame, and coming home.

From Preview July 2008

There is a certain cachet we subconsciously award Pinoy talent who have made it big abroad. Chock it to the pride and nationalism, and, some, may argue, colonial mentality when we put these rare few on a pedestal for having had their voices heard on the competitive international platform.

So when a successful designer, with a thriving label and loyal clients abroad, comes home forsaking greater fame, we are altogether baffled. The designer in question is the charismatic Ito Curata.

A few minutes after meeting Ito, however, all our doubts were quelled. He is happy here and completely in his element. “I've been asked a lot about why I came back home. In the States, I was working very long hours and thought I could take it easier here. This has not been the case, but at least I am close to my family.

Frankly, I like it better here because of the quality of my workers,” declares Ito. For someone who counts President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Sharon Stone, and the cream of San Francisco's socialites as his clients, the biggest surprise was that he was completely self-taught. “I had to learn by myself. It was really lakas ng loob. I figured if I made a mistake, I could always buy more fabric.” And thus he entered the world of fashion with sheer guts and gracious aplomb, from a background in Fine Arts and a short stint in banking.

Despite the risk, he was adamant about giving the fashion world a try, and for all the bold moves he's made, he has no regrets to this day. “Everything I've dreamed of, I've achieved. I always tell my people. Dream big. Dreams are free.”

WHAT IS YOUR DESIGN PHILOSOPHY?
I try to come up with designs that complement a woman's body type while bringing out her innate inner beauty. My style can be summed up in three words; simple but elegant.

WHERE DID YOU ACQUIRE TRAINING IN FASHION DESIGN?
My formal training was in fine arts such as painting, sculpture, and photography. My training in fashion is self-taught-using the trial and error method.

HOW DID YOUR LOVE AFFAIR WITH FASHION BEGIN?
It probably began when I was a young boy and saw gowns my mom's dressmaker delivered to our home. To this day, I still recall how excited I was to see the beautiful designs he came up with using fabric and various embellishments.

HOW HAVE YOU EVOLVED?
In my early days as a designer, I had to do everything including sewing, beading, and alterations in order to pay the bills. Today, I am able to delegate things such as sewing and beading to my very talented employees, although I still prefer to cut my own patterns. I am now able to concentrate on what I enjoy the most: the design process. And I also don't have to do alterations anymore.


WHO ARE YOUR CELEBRITY CLIENTS?
My clients have ranged from entertainment figures here in the Philippines to actress Sharon Stone and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?
Everywhere! People on the street, paintings, sculptures, books, certain fabrics, even dreams.

WHAT IS YOUR DESIGN PROCESS LIKE?
First, I personally meet with the client and generally spend quite a bit of time listening to her likes and dislikes. Then I use my imagination to come up with several design suggestions. I follow the European custom of fitting a muslin mock-up which I use as the pattern for the actual garment. Naturally, there are several fittings along the way.

WHAT GARMENT IS YOUR FAVORITE?
I love creating evening gowns because the design possibilities are endless.

CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR MOST RECENT COLLECTION?
[For my Cruise collection], I created several gowns using snakeskin as an accent element.

WHAT'S BEEN KEEPING YOU BUSY?
I am working on a 30-piece collection for a one-man show which will be held later this year as part of the Fashion Watch Quartet Series. The collection will feature mostly eveningwear.

FAVORITE FASHION DESIGNERS?
There are may very talented local designers, but I always enjoy seeing the designs of Pepito Albert, Dennis Lustico, Cary Santiago, and of course, Inno Sotto. Internationally, I admire the works of Gianfranco Ferre, Christian Lacroix, John Galliano, Charles James, and Halston.

HOW DO YOU UNWIND?
I regularly have a masseuse come to my home. This is a luxury I couldn't afford in the US.

FAVORITE SHOPPING DESTINATION?
It's a toss-up between Paris and Positano, Italy. In Paris, I get lots of inspiration walking along the streets where many of the international designers have their salons. In Positano, I love the simple, quaint village atmosphere and the delicious seafood and pasta.

FUTURE PLANS?
To continue doing what I have been doing for the past 20 years-designing and creating clothes for clients.

Click here to see Ito Curata's Collection for the Fashion Watch Quartet Series.


Click here to see Ito Curata's contact information.


—Mariane Perez

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