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Mutual Admiration

Designer Sassa Jimenez and Tessa Prieto-Valdes speak out.
Mutual Admiration Designer Sassa Jimenez and Tessa Prieto-Valdes speak out.

You WILL notice Tessa Prieto-Valdes enter any room. Whether you are animatedly yakking, engaged in the latest gossip, or guiltily chomping down a canapé in the corner, you WILL stop mid-sentence or mid bite, as the case may be, and notice her- and her larger-than-life ensembles.
Tessa's clothes are, in essence, wearable art, for which she is the walking, talking canvas. If you strip off a few iconic Tessa accessories (like an oversized hat, a smattering of feathers and a heap of bling) from her ensembles, you will find that Tessa's sartorial choices are in fact quite wearable though, even by those who stick strictly to the no-frills side of fashion.

Lately, Style Bible has been bumping into Tessa making waves in dresses by young designer Sassa Jimenez. In fact, Tessa discloses that she is a proud owner of around six pieces made by the ingénue, with her daughter Annika having two of her own as well.

Tessa On Sassa
Tessa admits to being keen on Sassa's attention to details and choice of fabric combinations. Asked why Tessa subscribes to Sassa's style aesthetic, she replies “I feel that her work is unique and original, so I love wearing her designs because I know no one else has the same kind of dress. Her creations have so much drama happening in front and in the back. My look is photogenic from all angles.”

For a fashion force like Tessa to turn to a Philippine fashion novice, it appears this young designer certainly has “it”.

Sassa Jimenez
Sassa made her grand entrance into the local fashion circuit with a well-received showing at last year's Philippine Fashion Week. The 21-year-old graduate of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles obliged us at Style Bible with a quick tete-a-tete:

What is your design style?
“It's very feminine and dressy yet, young and edgy. I try to push the envelope as far as I can while still keeping it classic and chic.”

What's it like to be a young designer in the Philippines?
“It's a very exciting time to be in fashion right now. There's so much talent in the Philippines and it's the perfect time to showcase what we can do."

What are you still learning?
“I'm still learning a lot of techniques as I go about my work. Also I'm learning more business strategies so I can have an edge in managing my work and profiting from my craft."

What is your fashion ambition?
“To create a whole new look for the women of Manila.”

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
“I would love to find myself still in the fashion industry and still making beautiful clothes for women. I'd be shipping my garments to different parts of the world and jet-setting all around the world to do fashion shows. By then I would have opened up my flagship store and a larger showroom and atelier in Manila where women can buy my dresses, or have dresses made while being served tea and cupcakes by a butler. I dare to dream!”

Who are some designers you admire?
“Locally, Lulu Tan-Gan, Rajo Laurel and Tippi Ocampo. They have a very distinct style that is very global, yet Filipino, not to mention stellar business skills."

If you could meet any fashion icon, alive or dead, who would it be?
“Charles Worth. I would love to question him on his technique and his dressmaking process.”

Who would you love to dress?
Heidi Klum.”

Which celebrity's fashion sense do you love most?
“I love Lady Gaga. Yes, she's in her panties for most of the day, but hey,she looks good!”

Lastly, to round up this little exchange between designer and muse, we quiz Sassa on having Tessa as a top customer. “Ms. Tessa Prieto-Valdez is so fascinating. She's amazing and carries clothes well. She's very fun to dress up because she's game for anything” enthuses Sassa.

Clearly, in this case, the fashion love goes both ways.

Click on to see photos of Tessa wearing Sassa Jimenez pieces.

Click here to see Sassa Jimenez's Designer Portfolio.

-Renee Puno, Editorial Assistant

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