His slinky, bejeweled take on glamour has enabled Cebuano designer Jun Escario to make his mark in the fashion scene and fashionistas who live under the glare of flashing light bulbs—from actress Ruffa Gutierrez to party page fixture Mai Kaufman—all head over to his atelier for their sartorial fixes. “Couture evening gowns are really what I love to do—and what I do best,” declares Jun, who is currently transforming his Greenbelt 5 boutique into a bridal and evening gown atelier. “This year, I want to concentrate more on making custom-designed bridal and evening gowns.” The decision to focus production on Oscar-worthy frocks instead of ready-to-wear has democratic roots. “I want to make dresses my clients will feel good in. I want to make dresses for real women—not just people with model figures.” His mission: to push the limits of his couture house.
WHAT CAN YOU SAY ABOUT THE PHILIPPINE FASHION INDUSTRY?
[After opening] my store in Greenbelt 5, I realized that the local fashion scene is very challenging. You have to be very competitive with foreign designer labels. You just have to focus on what you do best and constantly come up with new and innovative ideas.
WHERE DID YOU ACQUIRE TRAINING IN FASHION DESIGN?
I was head designer for an RTW company at age 18. Then, I moved on to work for a high fashion house for a few years before starting on my own [label].
HOW HAVE YOU EVOLVED AS A DESIGNER?
There was a time when I tried to follow the look of my favorite bands such as Depeche Mode, The Cure, and Culture Club. Their influence carried over in my designs, so my clothes looked very trendy. Through the years, I learned to separate what I like from what works for my clients, so I learned how to make clothes that are not too classic and boring. I make what is new and exciting—without being trendy.
WHAT IS YOUR DESIGN PROCESS LIKE?
For my RTW line, everything starts with fabric. I have exquisite fabrics from all over the world that I like to work with. The design comes next. For clients though, I start with their shape and personality before choosing the fabric and making a sketch.
CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR MOST RECENT COLLECTION?
No blacks for me lately. I have no idea why, but I can’t even look at black these days.
I am loving tweed and tulle in boxy, linear shapes. I am also developing a silhouette which I call “The Poodle.”
ARE THERE ANY MATERIALS YOU LOVE TO WORK WITH? WHY?
I love to work with silk chiffon and jersey.
But lately, I have also started to enjoy working with heavier fabrics like Thai silk, duchess satin, and brocade.
FROM YOUR DESIGNS, DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE DRESS?
I have always been proud of my two entries for the young designers competition I joined—but honestly they were too exotic for me. My favorite would have to be an evening gown in Chantilly lace with nude lining made for a fashion show. It is chic, high glam, and exquisitely done.
WHAT IS YOUR DESIGN PHILOSOPHY?
I am very dynamic. I get bored easily, so as soon as I am done with a collection, I quickly move on to the next and think of what is new, tasteful, and exciting.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DESIGN?
Art Deco design terno in Chantilly lace with an ostrich feather hemline.
—edited by Alyanna Martinez; reprinted from Preview May 2009
Click on the photo gallery to see Jun Escario's work as seen in Preview through the years.