There is something spine-tingly exciting when you’re about to meet vampires in real life. Or this time, shall I say, reel vampires in real life. So there I was, straight from a 24-hour Manila-Hong Kong-Vancouver-New York flight, about to have a one-on-two session with Ian Somerhalder and Nina Dobrev, television’s foremost modern-day romantic vampires in the hit series “Vampire Diaries.”
Nina was just in Miami where she had girl bonding time with friends, and Ian had just flown in from China where he was busy doing work, both commercial and advocacy driven. They come down from the Penthouse deck of the New York studio where famed photographer and frequent Penshoppe collaborator Darren Tieste just shot exclusive layouts for The Philippine Star Supreme. I was surrounded by the clothes interspersed for the three day campaign shoot, beautifully made clothes of what is to come this season and beyond for Penshoppe — the hipper than hip, proudly Pinoy brand that never fails to take things to another level.
This day in New York City was a clear testament to that. We were in the center of the world, shooting top-tier global stars wearing a Filipino brand. How is that for a “level up?” And yet, when I have a tete-a-tete with the brand director Jeff Bascon, also the marketing and creative genius behind Oxygen and ForMe, he is nothing but humble, down-to-earth and gracious. I guess it’s part of their corporate culture — having self made entrepreneurs and now retail giants Bernie and Alice Liu as parent figures who run the global company that had its humble origins in Cebu.
Being with Bernie and Alice is like having a crash course in business management, with them acting as a perfect yin and yang balance to each other’s intensity. I seriously learned a lot while spending time with them. “Most of this is for the long term. We champion the Filipino brand. That is what we are about, creativity and innovation,” Bernie told me over dinner that night. “In my capacity as brand director, we want to make the best products for the Filipino consumer. When you step into the stores, you’ll feel the change, from the store to the merchandise.” Looking around the stuff I have seen, I believe in Bascon’s vision of pushing Penshoppe.
I could sense the tiredness in Ian’s demeanor (he just flew in from China and was rushing to fly to Spain that same day) while Nina seemed like a friendly and easy-to-get-along-with gal. I wanted to hug her in fact during the course of the interview. Ian’s hands were all over Nina, like they were making up for lost time. I guess this was the only time they could have some catch up time, what with the hectic schedules jetting all over the world. Still, Nina was a picture of cheery calm. What a sweetheart this girl is! “I love what I’m wearing now,” Nina says about the Penshoppe ensemble she was wearing for this shoot. “I like fun, casual clothes. And I’m definitely looking forward to coming to the Philippines!”
Here, exclusively for The Philippine Star Supreme, straight from the vampire’s mouths, a rundown of their sartorial sense, the things they believe in, and their favorite Filipino word.
SUPREME: Ian, what memories did you take from your last trip to the Philippines?
IAN SOMERHALDER: I was in Palawan which is truly one the most beautiful places in the world. I was just greeted by so much environmental beauty, the people were so great to me. The wildlife, the environment, the people, the food, are just incredible. So I took away a lot from my trip to the Philippines. Like, a lot, a lot, a lot. I really wanna go back and spend more time there.
Nina, what did Ian tell you about his trip to the Philippines?
NINA DOBREV: The people were awful. I’m kidding! I saw the pictures he didn’t really need to say much. But he did say a lot. When I saw the pictures, they spoke more than any words could describe. It was so beautiful, I was so jealous I couldn’t be there. It’s such a beautiful place.
Would you guys come back together next time?
NINA: Hopefully, I really want to go and see the Philippines.
IAN: Yeah, I’d love for her to see it.
What made you say yes to do the campaign?
IAN: They’re just incredible people. They’re so giving and generous to their employees and customers.
NINA: He told me about the experience and it was great. It’s just a great brand with great clothes. I’m just excited they asked me to be part of Penshoppe.
What’s your day-to-day sartorial style?
NINA: I’m casual chic
IAN: I’m a dude. Just jeans and T-shirt. Something comfortable.
If you are a statement shirt, what would it say?
IAN: Mine would say, “Save our planet”
NINA: Mine is sassy, classy, a little smart ass-y
Who do you think is stylish?
NINA: Emma Stone.
IAN: Cary Grant.
Are there clothes that you wouldn’t wear?
IAN: I would never wear fur. Nina would. I’m joking!
What’s your most loved item in your closet?
NINA: Too many I can’t pick. They’re like children, you can’t just pick which ones are your favorite.
We know of Ian’s strong advocacy about the environment. What about you Nina?
NINA: I don’t care about the environment. We can destroy the world. I’m kidding, I’m kidding! I support and help the foundation because I also care so much about the environment. Working with Ian has opened my eyes to so many things regarding the environment. I also help an organization that helps kids in Africa and I’ve been with them for a long time.
How are you guys like in your days off?
IAN: Sleeping. There’s a big amount of energy that goes into the work.
NINA: Our daily lives are very intense. Work is intense, travel is intense. So when it’s not work, we rest.
You’re rushing off to another country!
NINA: Another continent!
IAN: Spain. And I just came from China yesterday.
So Ian, you’ve been going around the world doing advocacy work?
IAN: Yeah, a lot of it. Some are publicity, some are for advocacy work. Just connecting dots, meeting people. Arts, commerce, and philanthropy kind of go together.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
IAN: Sleeping a lot more.
NINA: Kind of all over. Hopefully doing a lot of great things.
IAN: Doing great films, the foundation will be bigger.
NINA: Hopefully traveling more. We work 10 months a year and when we travel, we don’t get to stay long. So hopefully, yeah, traveling more.
Any Tagalog words that you have learned?
NINA: What’s crazy in Tagalog?
IAN: Nakakaloka! I love nakakaloka!