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Q&a: Chat Almarvez

The Pinay supermodel takes on the international fashion scene.
Q&a: Chat Almarvez The Pinay supermodel takes on the international fashion scene.

Recently, we are all agog with bits of news that once again, boost Pinoy pride—not just in boxing (Ed's note: The Pacman has defended his title!) but this time also in the hard-hitting world of fashion: Rajo Laurel and Wynn Wynn Ong on WWD, Mich Dulce winning the International Young Fashion Entrepreneur Award for 2010 at the London Fashion Week, Oliver Tolentino in the Oscars Designer Challenge 2010 and Edwin Ao at Japan Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2010.

Certainly not to miss, though, is this young, newly-minted international supermodel—and she's Pinay! Charlene “Chat” Almarvez, only 16 years old, cinched the second spot in the 2010 Ford Supermodel of the World Finals in Brazil. Following the footsteps of Charo Ronquillo, this 5-foot-9inch stunner emerged on the top in the most prestigious international modeling competition.

Just last week, we were thrilled to find out that Chat landed on the fashion editorial of this month's issue of V Magazine. Doesn't that make you extremely proud? Clearly, she's on her way to making it big in the international fashion scene.

“It's really fortunate that Chat was already making a great impression on the judges even during the Ford Supermodel of the World-Philippines competition. From the start, we already noticed something unique in Chat,” says Runway Productions' Joey Espino in his write-up in The Philippine Star. “On and off the runway, she has an amazing presence and the ability to build great rapport with people.”

Style Bible was lucky enough to do an interview with Chat (thanks to CalCarrie's International Models Philippines) as she tells us her experience and what it's like to be a Pinay on the world stage. Read on!

When you won the Ford Supermodel of the World-Philippines, what was the fist thing you thought of?
First that entered in my mind was that I would start working in New York and that would really give so much fulfillment.

What were your expectations then?
I expected that it would be a large amount of work, doing fashion shows for New York Fashion Week, among others. All of this, of course, will happen one by one.

Tell us about your experience Brazil. How was it like in an international scene?
Brazil is really like the Philippines. It has the same ambiance and weather. I experienced interacting with different people who came from different countries. I talked and discovered that there are some cultures and languages that are the same with us; like the people from Mexico have the same words as in the Filipino language. As a whole, it was a really enjoyable experience.

Who were some of the significant people you've met in Brazil?
I've met girls from other parts of the world, from Baltic to Australia. Aside from the other models, I met Katie Ford and the other Ford representatives who were there to support the event. Chanel Iman was also there to host the finals night.

How did you prepare for the competition (Ford Supermodel of the World)? Who were the major players in your training/preparation?
My mentor Joey Espino taught me not to be attached to the title. He also said not to think about the competition and just enjoy and do my best. He always says that to me. And my parents always tell me that I need to do my best because all of this will only happen once. There's no cut, pause, stop or replay.

What's it like for you backstage?
During the finals night, I was trying to relax and I was just singing songs in my head. I was trying to enjoy the moment to take out the nervous feeling.

What was the first thing that came to mind when you found out you won the number two spot?
I realized that God is really good and He has a plan why He gave it to me.

How was your relationship with the other models?
On my first day in Brazil, I met so many models from all over. Little by little, I started to warm up and talk to the other models. We talked about cultures and countries.

Since the competition, what's been your daily routine like?
I wake up at 7 o' clock in the morning to eat then I proceed to the agency to get my schedule for the day. After that, I always go to church in the afternoon.

As a child, did you always dream of becoming a model? Was this what you wanted from the start?
I dreamed of becoming a model only when I was in second year high school. At that time, I just wrote about it as a project in my English subject. Years later, here I am, living a dream. I never thought that I could do it and honestly, I didn't know that it will become a reality.

What was the biggest obstacle you had to go through?
I am shy and sometimes I feel like I don't have enough self-confidence. Every time that happens, I just think of my mentor and parents' advice, then I feel okay.

What do you find challenging now, after the competition?
I find being away from home the most challenging, as this is the first, the farthest and the longest time that I've been away. Good thing we have mobile phones and internet to keep me in touch with my family.

How are you coping with the changes?
At first, I really find it tough—the schedule, the training, etc.—but I take it one by one, one day at a time. Then I just enjoy the moment, and learn everything from the experience.

What do you personally think of Asian models? Are we ready to conquer the international scene?
Asian models have a unique personality and beauty. There have been a lot of other Asian models who are working in New York before me, like Liu Wen Tao and of course, my “Ate” in CalCarrie's International Models Philippines, Charo Ronquillo!

What do you do to relax?
I just lie in my bed, talk to my parents and friends in the Philippines.

Aside from modeling, what are your other interests?
I really wanted to be a volleyball player. I would love to have a jersey with my surname and favorite number on it, while wearing a pair of shorts.

Do you still get nervous on the runway? If yes, how do you cope with it?
Yes, of course, especially here. You do not know what will happen during your walk on the runway. I just dance and feel the beat and the vibe and that gives me more energy.

What's next? Do you plan to stay in New York or perhaps go to Paris or Milan?
Just weeks after the competition, I've already done New York Fashion Week. I want to go to Paris and Milan to model there, but it all depends on my agents (both Ford NY and CalCarrie's in the Philippines). They know what is best for my career.

What was the greatest advice given to you?
Always pray to God and believe that all of this things that happen in my life is God's plan and He really knows what's the best for us.

What's your personal style?
I like to wear clothes that are simple, yet comfortable. I usually wear jeans or a pair of shorts and a tank top.

Who are your style icons?
I believe everyone has their own personal style.

Who's your favorite model?
Now, I really get inspired by Karlie Kloss. She's awesome!

Who serves as your inspiration?
My family, my friends, my mentors and my sisters, co-models at CalCarrie's. They've always inspired me to do my best in what I do.

Who are your favorite designers? Have you met any of them?
Honestly, I don't have anyone in particular as of the moment, but walking down the runways of great designers such as Diane Von Furstenberg in New York Fashion Week, and at Philippine Fashion Week for designers like Marlon Rivera, is a great honor for me—me, being new in the business .

What are your shopping habits?
I rarely do shopping by impulse, so, what I do is shop what I need instead of what I want. Then I always think twice before buying the merchandise.

Any modeling tips or advice to aspiring models?
Keep believing and don't give up. We have our own time and God will give that. Be confident that we all can fulfill and reach our dreams.

—Nikki Santiago, Fashion Assistant

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