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Lucky Mich!

The IYFE winner talks about winning and what happens next.
Lucky Mich! The IYFE winner talks about winning and what happens next.

Mich Dulce informed friends and family that she won the International Young Fashion Entrepreneur Award (IYFE) via Twitter last February 21, 12:31 am Philippine time. A barrage of congratulatory tweets and proud blog posts (Cecile Van Straten, Kate Torralba) ensued, giving the designer who bested eight others a virtual pat on the back.

Mich had been nominated for the award by the British Council of the Philippines, and she was sent to the United Kingdom to, as www.londonfashionweek.co.uk describes it, experience “the business trip of a lifetime, meeting fashion industry leaders and peers and fostering international relations. According to www.britishfashioncouncil.com, Mich's itinerary also included attending London Fashion Week and a possible master-class with Sir Paul Smith (www.paulsmith.co.uk).

The IYFE award is one given to young designers who have proven themselves as “entrepreneurs in the promotion of the fashion industry in their country,” explains the British Fashion Council site. “Artistic talent will not be factored into the judging procedure—finalists will be judged solely on the merit of their entrepreneurial abilities in the industry.”

In an email interview, Style Bible caught up with Mich to ask her about winning the award and what happens next.

WHAT WAS THE WEEK LEADING UP TO THE AWARDS NIGHT LIKE?

It was possibly the most amazing experience of my life. The British Council set up all these meetings with high-level industry people who gave us an insider view of the fashion industry in the UK.
To be honest, when I won the local competition, I thought I would get bored at these meetings because I already know quite a bit about the UK fashion industry, having been trained in London, but I was so wrong.

The meetings were super! We met with the British Fashion Council, Topshop, the Center for Fashion Enterprise, lots of designers and creatives. It was amazing! I learned so much in the week it was unbelievable.

HOW DID IT FEEL WHEN THEY CALLED OUT YOUR NAME AND WHEN YOU WENT UP TO RECEIVE YOUR AWARD?

It was funny because I heard them say Michelle, but I waited until they said Philippines before I screamed with my friends, who came to the awarding to support me. I was so happy; it was unbelievable. But whether I won or not, although it sounds like a cliché, I knew we were all winners already, having learned so much the past week.

I talked about that in my (acceptance) speech actually—ever since I started designing, one of my biggest passions has been showcasing the Filipino as a creative instead of just a supplier or subcontractor. It has been a struggle to knock on peoples doors trying to get them to pay attention to me (in 2005 I even worked on a project to promote Filipino talent along with Everywhereweshoot, Inksurge, Goldie Poblador, and IC Jaucian).

It was great to finally be given the chance, and the links to do this; to be able to showcase the Filipino as a creative, much like Bea Valdes, Rafe Totengco and all the other Pinoys who have gone global.

Obviously, the biggest thanks goes to the British Council, in the UK and Manila, who gave me this opportunity. The judges (in Manila) who chose to send me to the UK—Amanda and Lesley from the British Council, Inno Sotto, Ariel Lozada, and Daphne Oseña-Paez, Benedict Carandang (IYCE winner for Screen), who helped groom me for the international competition along with Lesley Stokes and Amanda Burrell.

My super team who completely helped me win—my super studio team composed of Lea, Jayne, Dina and Weng, who joined me in sleepless weeks before I left; Ryan and Garovs of EverywhereWeShoot.com who always help me despite their busy schedules; Rex and Jois of Inksurge who told me I had to make sure my video was ace (and taught me about the joys of stop motion); Tom Estrera who edited my video; Leeroy New who did my exhibition; JC Medina who coached me on financials; and Erwin Romulo who bugged me everyday to work on my business plan.

I have to thank also Mesh Villanueva, Richelle Filart, Bernie Fonseca, Elpeeh from Citem, and Cora from PTRI, who patiently answered all my questions when I was doing my research for my project proposal.

Also, a super important and special thank you to Ana Tan and Amber Punongbayan of the British Council, Philippines, who helped me through it all. I'd like to thank Claire De Braekeleer and Nicolle Weeks here in the UK who helped us sort out all our meetings. In the UK, (I am grateful to) the judges who chose me of course—Diane Pernet, Vanessa Denza, Justine Simons, and Carla Sorrell. Of course, I have to thank my mom who is the most awesome mom in the world. And definitely, a big thank you to God!


WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS NOW THAT YOU'VE WON?

Well I haven't actually spoken to the British Council yet since I won, but Diane (Pernet) said that they were going to set me up to meet Stephen Jones and Philip Treacy for me to propose my project, and that would be beyond amazing!

It would take too long to explain my project here, but yes, I have it, it's what I presented to the judges, and it's probably what made me win. Like I said in the video interview at my send-off exhibit, it's about developing and innovating sinamay and local materials used for hat making. I'd like to work with a senior British milliner from the start of the supply chain, using this raw material. I would like to collaborate with the milliner to create a capsule collection using this material. Abaca, which is the fiber used in sinamay, is native to our country and this project could open up so many opportunities for us Pinoys, not just for me.


Click here to view Mich Dulce's contact information.

Click here to view Mich Dulce's latest collection of hats.

Click here to watch the video interview with Mich during her send-off exhibit.

Read Mich Dulce's interview at www.britishcouncil.org.


—Isha Andaya, Managing Editor

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