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Meet Leonardo

Designing for the High Maintenance
Meet Leonardo Designing for the High Maintenance

While he may seem to be a shy, unassuming Fil-Australian, the dresses that designer Leonardo Salinas churns out are far from wallflower material. He designs for a woman who is “beautiful with a bit of a dark streak,” citing Dita Von Teese and Victoria Beckham as women he'd love to dress.

He admits that in Sydney, where he is based, the laid-back culture and dress sense has created a challenging market for his high-end brand of edgy women's wear. However, that niche market of now loyal clients have made his job that much more delightful.

“These women know what they want and have the money to spend on themselves,” remarks Leonardo with a twinkle in his eye. When the looming financial crisis caused him to sit the girls down for lunch to inquire about their future fashion consumption, all he received was reassurance. “They said that they might lessen the nights they go out, forego a few martinis, and buy a beautiful dress instead,” he said with a smile.

While his eponymous label is fairly young, the Spring/Summer 2009 line he is working on is just his third collection as an independent designer; Leonardo has more than 10 years of design experience under his belt. He graduated with distinction from Sydney's renowned Whitehouse Institute of Design in 1995 and worked with other Australian designer labels like Alex Perry, Willow, and Lisa Ho before setting out on his own.

His brand is being brought to Manila via Bianca Zobel's online venture IM-HM (short for I Am High Maintenance), which is set to launch in January 2009. His is one of eleven global brands that will be available on the luxe shopping site, including denim labels Sass & Bide and Ksubi.

When asked about what he thought of Manila's fashion set during his short visit, he remarked with a touch of excitement, “This is where it's at, look at all these women who are all decked out.” The night before he flew back to Australia, he was already drumming up plans for his next visit—a little something to look forward to in 2009.

Leonardo Salinas
' Joan of Ark Collection can be viewed at the IM-HM showroom by appointment. Call (632) 890-9695. For more information on the designer visit

Look out for Leonardo Salinas in Preview's March 2009 issue.

Click on to see photos from the launch of Leonardo Salinas in Manila.

Click here to see the stylish guests present at the launch of Ego and Leonardo Salinas in Members Only.

—Isha Andaya, Managing Editor

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