Look into the mirror, and what do you see?
If you're wearing any of Joyce Makitalo's vibrant creations, merely looking at your reflection is enough to stir your wild imagination and transport you to far-flung places you've never dreamed of. And unlike the poor souls in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, you won't have to step into the mirror to explore your imagination and the realm of that mystique.
Inspired by the film just mentioned, Joyce Makitalo's newest accessories offer an invitation to cater to the whimsies of the imagination. “I dreamed up some of the pieces while I was watching the movie. The pieces were inspired by the eternal battle between light and darkness, and by colorful and abstract imagination," the designer explains.
“The title, Valentina as Venus, was taken from the scene where Valentina [played by model-turned-actress and Cambridge student Lily Cole] imagined herself as Botticelli's Venus.”
They're amulets of sort—these chunky pieces that adorn imaginative fingers, necks, and wrists. They're amulets that guard against a diminishing creative power to express one's self in conspicuous adornment.
Read on to find out more about the woman behind the creatively charged Valentina as Venus collection.
WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO BECOME A DESIGNER?
My passion for art—I love painting. And my fascination with fashion, which, like art, is a medium of self-expression.
HOW DID YOU START AS A DESIGNER?
I just started making things I wanted to have that didn't exist.
WHERE DID YOU RECEIVE YOUR FASHION TRAINING?
I went to UST and took Fine Arts: Graphics Application and Fashion Illustration under Danilo Franco. I salvaged his doodles and sketches and I died each time he erased his illustrations on the whiteboard.
WHAT IS YOUR DESIGN PHILOSOPHY?
Raw and bold, ancient-modern, high-impact, high drama.
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION?
I get inspired by past eras, and the challenge is to make them current.
WHO ARE YOUR STYLE ICONS? YOUR STYLE INFLUENCES/INSPIRATIONS?
The Rolling Stones (Mick and Keith) during the 60's, and Diana Vreeland. At present, I find the Olsen twins and model Irina Lazareanu really interesting. They have unpolished glamor—a more raw and natural style that lets the personality shine through.
WHICH DESIGNERS/ARTISTS DO YOU ADMIRE MOST?
I admire Christian Lacroix and Alexander McQueen. Their collections remind me of either a theater performance or a grand parade. Each collection is high-impact. I'm amazed and inspired by designers who do not compromise. Lacroix's haute couture never turned a profit throughout its history, but he is a true artist, and he never failed to give a show.
WHO DO YOU THINK IS THE PERFECT EXAMPLE OF TIMELESS STYLE?
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE AS A DESIGNER?
Mathematics! And really, I wish I could just give my pieces away to those who like them and not charge a cent. Having said that, I hope my clients don't come across this interview.
WHICH ASPECT OF THE DESIGN PROCESS DO YOU ENJOY MOST?
Buying stones and sketching, then watching the piece come to life. But then when it's time to let go of it, I feel a bit bad.
WHAT'S THE BEST CLOTHING ITEM/ACCESSORY WOMEN/MEN SHOULD HAVE?
I think a vintage piece always makes an outfit more interesting.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE GARMENT OR FASHION ACCESSORY?
Piled up jewelry or a stunning necklace.
ANY CURRENT TRENDS THAT YOU'RE FOND OF? ANY CURRENT OBSESSIONS?
My current favorite is ultra-high-waist jeans. But I've always been obsessed with wedges that look as if they walked straight out of the 60's. I've had the obsession since my first Buster Brown wedges when I was eight. Celine's current wedges are so cool; if I had them, I'd wear them everyday till I'm ninety.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR CAREER?
I'm excited that the foreign market is showing a lot of interest, and I haven't even done a thing to market my brand. A close-up shot of my necklace was on the cover of Culture Hong Kong magazine last month. It was unexpected and when it was sent to me, I sort of fell off my seat. But I try not to get too excited.
WHAT IS THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU HAVE RECEIVED ABOUT YOUR WORK?
Somebody from Stella McCartney said that that my work has the look of vintage Chanel. Ha!
WHAT ASPECT OF DESIGN DO YOU SEEK TO MASTER/HAVE DEVOTED TIME TO MASTER?
I want to study more about stones, both semi-precious and precious. They are powerful little things. I am looking into studying gemology, but for now I make do with tons of books about them.
ASPIRATIONS FOR THE BRAND IN THE FUTURE?
I hope we would someday be a big international brand. We're already in Tangs Singapore!
HOW DO YOU UNWIND?
Yoga and chanting.
FAVORITE SHOPPING AND TRAVEL DESTINATIONS?
Finland is my family's second country (my husband is from there, and Makitalo is actually a Finnish last name, not Filipino!). It is the home of fashion brand Marimekko and it is a place where you see a lot of streamlined bold design. Kiasma, their modern art museum, [has] a quirky shop with genius souvenirs and cool kids with neon mohawks skateboarding outside.
DO YOU COLLECT ANYTHING?
Vintage kaftans, vintage bags, Moroccan tea cups, semi-precious rocks, Vogue.
WHAT MUSIC DO YOU LISTEN TO? FILMS YOU WATCH? BOOKS YOU READ?
I've exhausted all of J.D. Salinger's books and have been searching for years for another one like him, but unfortunately, no such being exists.
I love the music of Cocteau Twins, Enigma, Clannad, Enya, Sigur Ros, Era, Radioactive Sago Project, The Rolling Stones, Phoenix, the list goes on.
OTHER PASTIMES, PASSIONS, INTERESTS ASIDE FROM FASHION?
Art! I love meeting artists and analyzing their psyche through their work.
WHAT OTHER TALENT WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO HAVE?
Math skills! I'd like to have a left brain please, thank you.
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?
Yoga is my greatest treasure. I am very lucky to have found it.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE PHILIPPINE FASHION INDUSTRY NEEDS MOST IN ORDER TO FLOURISH?
We need at least one great fashion school with great teachers. Not just good, okay ones.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR ASPIRING DESIGNERS?
What you create is an expansion of yourself. Communicate well through your work.
Click here to see Joyce Makitalo's Valentina as Venus Summer 2010 collection.
Click here to see her Designer Directory.
—Jae de Veyra Pickrell, Editorial Assistant
Look into the mirror, and what do you see?