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Catriona Gray's Genuine Love for Philippine Textiles Is What Makes Her a True Queen, Says Her Stylist

"She carries luxury brands very well, but she always brings a touch of Filipino to her style."
Catriona Gray's Genuine Love for Philippine Textiles Is What Makes Her a True Queen, Says Her Stylist
IMAGE justine aliman
"She carries luxury brands very well, but she always brings a touch of Filipino to her style."

If there’s any star that can pull off ultra-glam looks and casual ensembles with the same graceful air, it has to be Catriona Gray. Most know the 28-year-old beauty for winning the Miss Universe 2018 crown, which honestly came as no surprise given her consistent strength throughout the competition. After all, the “lava walk” she did while decked out in a flaming red Mak Tumang gown didn’t send the internet into a flurry for nothing. 

PHOTO BY instagram/catriona_gray
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However, winning the biggest pageant in the universe was only the beginning of Catriona’s career. Coming home after having bagged the crown has further skyrocketed her influence, from that of a staunch advocate for women’s rights as well as the promotion of Philippine arts and indigenous handicrafts. It’s no secret that the beauty queen has a penchant for local textiles and weaves, with Catriona frequently donning pieces featuring them throughout her Instagram.

But behind Catriona’s stardom status is also an equally hard-working team responsible for most of her stunning looks. Justine Aliman, her go-to stylist for four years now, is who we have to thank for curating the star’s winning OOTDs that truly show off her personal style. Being both a friend and a workmate to each other, the two naturally developed a bond that makes their relationship a dynamic match made in heaven.

PHOTO BY justine aliman
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Read on where we get an insider scoop from Justine on what it’s like dressing one of the biggest celebs in the industry. 

Celebrity Stylist Justine Aliman on What It’s Like Working with Catriona Gray

Describe the first time you met.

“I think friendship starts at an unexpected time. I met Catriona through Mamang Brent Sales. Mamang told me na may new queen siya na alaga and hindi pa nya sinabi kung sino, it was a wild guess for me kung sino. Then after I arrived from overseas, ayun na, he revealed to me na it was Catriona Gray.”

How did you end up working together?

“Actually, we started as friends in 2018. We were her team who supported her when she was competing during her Miss Universe journey. As part of her core team, Team Catriona, we were able to continue with our working relationship and, up until now, I’m grateful. Because over the years, we’ve already become family.”

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PHOTO BY justine aliman

How long have you been working together since?

“We’ve been working together since 2018 up until the present.”

How would you describe Catriona as a client?

“She knows what she wants and we share the same vision. As a very creative person, I allow her to explore and be vocal about what she wants but at the same time, she also gives me the space [to] share my input. I’d like to say we’re very collaborative and respectful of each other’s creativity.”

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How has working with Catriona impacted your career as a fashion stylist?

“Well, for me, Catriona helped me build a name in the business. Although I had been doing styling with other big stars before Catriona came, being Catriona's stylist widened and allowed me to jumpstart in the industry on a different level. She made people aware of who Justine Aliman is in the styling business.”

As her stylist, what can you say about her personal style/aesthetic?

“Catriona Gray is very different from all other artists. As a queen, she carries luxury brands very well, but she’d always make sure that her love for Philippine textiles is incorporated wherever she goes, especially whenever she travels internationally. She always brings a touch of Filipino to her style, [which is] what makes her truly an iconic Queen.”

PHOTO BY instagram/catriona_gray
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PHOTO BY instagram/catriona_gray

Has your personal relationship developed since you first met? How would you describe Catriona as a friend?

“Through time, we know that the ties that bind will be strong if you focus on the positive than the negative. I think this is why I consider her as a friend and became family because she focuses on the good and at the same time she keeps you grounded and humble.”

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PHOTO BY justine aliman

What's your most unforgettable moment working with Catriona?

“Of course, preparing for Miss Universe. Brainstorming was massive and exhilarating because we went through a long process—from editing to presenting the looks and preparing for backups. It was unforgettable because even up to the coronation and press conference we were still there ensuring that no fashion faux would transpire.”

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Tell us something interesting about Catriona that her fans don't know.

“I think as a Miss Universe, your life becomes an open book so I guess there's not [much] info that [fans] wouldn't know. Even her love life, people already know. But I guess people wouldn't know is how great she is as a friend /family unless you become one with her. Catriona is appreciative and has the gift of enjoying and valuing what she has.”

PHOTO BY justine aliman
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