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Designer Spotlight: Jojie Lloren

The famed designer shares his hope for Philippine Fashion.
Designer Spotlight: Jojie Lloren The famed designer shares his hope for Philippine Fashion.

They say that something so truly beautiful and simple often takes more skill and effort to create. If there is a designer in the country today who has devoted his growth towards this, it's certainly Jojie Lloren. It's evident in his keen attention to structure.

“I love this because it's so simple but you really see the beauty of the form of the dress,” he remarks as he flips to his favorite page in the book on Cristobal Balenciaga.

The designer has always been a leader to his peers. He was once upon a time the president of the Young Designers Guild and the Fashion Design Council of the Philippines. He has a way of shepherding designers together, even if it is just to enjoy a quiet evening at his place.

Unwittingly, he has become a mentor to many, “I want to instill, especially in the minds of the young designers, that we all should work together, try to help each other, and focus on a vision that will bring Filipino design to a global level.”

When would you say your love affair with fashion began?
I was in Grade 5 when I started looking at fashion spreads in the newspapers. I either clipped or copied most of the designs I found interesting. It was at this point that I told myself I want to become a fashion designer.

What really launched your career as a designer?
Winning the Philippine Young Designers Competition and the Concours International des Jeunes Createurs de Mode in Paris, both in 1998.

How did it feel to win the Young Designer's Competition in Paris?
It felt like I was the luckiest person alive. After winning the local competition, I had to improve on the quality of my entry (for the Paris competition). It was quite difficult as I had to hand-sew the strands of abaca onto the bodice of the dress and I also had to strengthen the strands of beads on the skirt. I really was not expecting to win as the previous day, during the fitting, my model was very uncooperative. I had already set up my mind that I would just sit back, relax and enjoy the show—and Paris. Little did I know that that moment would be the turning point in my life!

You mentioned that your favorite part of the design process is pattern-making. What about it do you like so much?
Patterns are a vital tool for me when I want to reinvent or make variations of a particular look. I immediately see how far I can introduce change, if it will work or not, or if a design is possible to realize at all.

Do you think it's important for a designer to be highly skilled in pattern-making?
I think so. There are times when a manipulated pattern precedes my drawing on paper. I think that a fashion designer will have a broader scope in design and creativity if he has knowledge in pattern-making and sewing.

You used to hold pattern-making workshops. What was that like and do you plan to give classes again?
Teaching young designers is very fulfilling. I love teaching and I want to share what little I know, which could eventually help improve local fashion.

Favorite local fashion designers?
Lulu Tan-Gan, Inno Sotto, Cesar Gaupo. Aside from their talent, they have been active in promoting Filipino design and designers.

Do you collaborate with other designers?
I do seek the help of other designer friends like Pidge Reyes, Dennis Celestial, and John Navarrete for accessories needed in some of my fashion shows.

Would you say you have a signature style?
Simple design, intricate workmanship.

What is your design philosophy?
Less is more.

How important are trends in your work?
It is important, but I am not a trendy designer. I follow general trends though, as I want my clothes to be current, but only to a certain extent, because I also want them to be timeless.

Tell us about your retail lines and their difference from made-to-order.
My LLOREN line, which caters to plus-size women, is available at Robinsons Galleria and Ermita; A-17, the younger and trendier line, is sold at SM Megamall and SM Makati; and the high-end line, Jojie Lloren for Myth, at Myth in Greenbelt 5. My made-to-measure line is for formal wear only. Ready-to-wear is where the money is. It actually is a lot easier and less stressful than made-to-measure. There are less deadlines to meet, no meetings and fitting sessions with clients, no alterations. Of course, there are always pros and cons.

Who do you enjoy designing for?
I enjoy designing for ladies who have strong personalities. Someone who exudes confidence, someone who knows what she wants and is not afraid to experiment with me, someone who gives me artistic freedom—like Nina Huang, Crickette Tantoco, and Marivic Vasquez.

What can fashionistas look forward to from Jojie Lloren?
Timeless clothes that fit well and are well-made. I want to, one day, be able to export and be in the mainstream of the world of fashion.

What's in your latest collection?
Art Deco architectural details, Cristobal Balenciaga's genius, and Madama Butterfly inspired my latest collection. The collection is mainly made up of short dresses, with the variations of the raglan sleeves. I also have very wide-leg pants.
*Ed's note: Jojie Lloren was preparing for his Fashion Watch 2008 Collection when this article was published.

If you weren't a designer, what would you be doing instead?
I would probably be a chef.

Click here to view Jojie Lloren's contact information.

Click here to see his designs for Luna, Rustan's.

Click here to see his designs for Jill, Rustan's.

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