Steffy De Mylo's fashion journey started with big leaps of faith. First, she had no formal training in fashion. Second, the first work she ever showed Heart Evangelista (who has since worn several pieces by her) was a suit she only made overnight. Just a few years into fashion designing, Steffy decided to jump into shoe design as well–she even collaborated on a pair with Heart! But more importantly, her creations involved promoting local fabrics. Steffy, a Mindanaoan designer, took it upon herself to put the spotlight on 100% Filipino textile through her pieces.
Below, get to know more about this promising new designer who's out to put the spotlight on Filipino fabrics.
Could you tell us something about yourself? How did you start in the industry as a fashion designer?
"Steffy de Mylo is a combination with son’s name Mylo. I've been in the industry for 10 years. I don’t have a formal training. But I knew when I was a kid that this is the route I’m taking. There was no plan B. It started with paper dolls to ripping Barbie doll’s outfit in exchange of a cut out sock. I wanted to take up fashion design [in college] but my dad didn't [approve] because he said there's no money in it. Instead, I took up Sociology. I got sidetracked and tried out modelling just to work with designers. Doing so fueled my drive to be one. I joined contest in 2008 and from there, I was slowly recognized as a designer. Soon after, I started my own atelier in 2011. I started with a ready-to-wear line and catered to corporate [clients]."
How would you describe you design philosophy and aesthetic?
"My aesthetic is geared towards fabric manipulation that entails careful treatment of the fabric. My mantra is to let the potential of a fabric shine. I’m more into construction and avant-garde aesthetic. I love to experiment."
Do you have a signature design or a key element evident through your collections?
"My signature piece often has a simple silhouette with a [simple] flair. Like, I have this neckline that looked like an inverted horseshoe shape. I throw in something unexpected. Like with a suit with cutouts."
Where do you usually draw inspiration from?
"I just have to be in the zone. From there, designs will just pop out. One design after another. In fact, I have designs that are 10 years old. I have kept them for years, just waiting for them to come out to life."
Can you walk us through your creative process as a designer?
"I listen to my gut feeling. I will just keep sketching or I’ll rummage through my old drawings and will suddenly have a eureka moment. I flip through the pages and stick to one detail that will be the focal of the dress. I usually marry an old design to a new one."
We noticed you use local fabrics. Why did you decide to take on this route? Could you also elaborate on the weaves and techniques you employ in your pieces?
"My love affair with the local woven fabrics started when I was chosen as one of the designers to the ancillary event for the Ms. Universe Mindanao Tapestry show held las January 2017 in SMX. I’m a sentimental type of person. Anything that has story, I’m instantly drawn to it. I even like quaint houses and would think the people who once lived there. I can absorb the energy. Thus, the weaving alone tells a story and it says a lot to our culture."
"I first used T’nalak in our Kadayawan collection shown in Haute Culture show in Canada. I also used malong woven by the Dreamweavers of Lake Sebu for Singapore Fashion Week. Now, I'm starting to use Inaul from Maguindanao and Langkit from Marawi."
What makes a Steffy De Mylo muse?
"She is a woman who stands out in a crowd, who is not afraid to be the center of attention; a woman who takes risk and is a trailblazer."
Speaking of muses, we saw Heart Evangelista wearing your jacket and shoes. Could you tell us more about these pieces she wore?
"I met Heart last December during a Kamiseta event. I made overnight a risqué cut-in waist suit, which she noticed. When it was my turn to have a photo op with her, she said she loved what I was wearing. From there, I sent her stylist some of my pieces, which I was told she gushed over. That green T’nalak jacket she has now was [part of] the collection I showed in Canada."
"For the shoes, I’ve always loved the thought of making them but they came second to clothes. But I decided to take a big leap and just do it. From there, everything happened so fast that I found myself launching a line by February of this year. I submitted nine designs to the 6th Filipino Footwear Design competition this April 2019 and later competed at the 11th international Footwear Design Competition 2019 held in China May 2019. Actually, Heart and I designed Tessa Prieto-Valdes’ heels for her 25th wedding anniversary."
As a local designer, what is the importance of making garments that are 100% Filipino?
"We are rich in culture and our tribe has their own fabric. Using local fabrics is my way of honoring my roots through fashion."