Designer Watch: Noubikko
MANILA, Philippines - People retire from work to enjoy the remaining years of their lives. But for Fil-Am designer Paolo Luis Ulanday or Noubikko to his clients, his retirement in fashion paved the way for his comeback.
Born and raised in Pangasinan, Noubikko left for the US in his teens to take an MBA and an MS in Corporate Management.
“I am actually an expert image consultant but I am known more as a fashion designer in the circle because media portray me as such. And in media, business branding always find its way. It’s good for business,” he says.
“Art is always my passion so I made art as my way of living. I love simple things, colors fascinate me and their variations make me ecstatic,” he adds.
He is fortunate to have a supportive family. “My immediate family lives in the US and every little success I have is a celebration for them. You can always hear from my family ‘If you are happy, we are happy.’ My mother also had a dress shop when I was young and she was a fashionista herself,” he says.
While he calls San Jose, California his home, it’s in the Czech Republic that he stays. Of moving to Europe, Noubikko says, “I love the city of Prague. I stay more in Prague now than in the US. I actually call it my home away from home. I also find Prague as my retirement haven. It’s a small city where I can take the tram and metro and be quiet with their gigantic 12th- to 13th-century churches including the 15th-century shrine of the Infant Jesus of Prague. I am active in several volunteer works such as the Knights of Rizal, with the Fashion Designers Association of Czech Republic and The Prague Art Support (Czech Artists organization), which I organized three years ago.”
Noubikko bid farewell to the fashion industry in San Francisco in 2007 to focus on other activities such as traveling. This would eventually lead him to Europe.
“I planned all my life to retire at 45. This is easier to realize as you know in the States, it’s all work and work and work, because there’s so much work to do. Then came the 9/11 World Trade tragedy that started the US recession. I said to myself, right time for me as well to make my other dreams come true,” he says.
But the calling was strong and he soon found himself back to designing clothes particularly for the Miss Czech Republic beauty contest.
“One morning in 2007, I received a phone call from the sponsors and organizers of Miss Czech Republic. They said they found me on the Internet and invited me for a coffee,” he recalls.
The sponsors of the beauty pageant also paved way for Noubikko to design a dress for Czech super celebrity Michaela Malchova. Soon he designed for the Czech Olympic Team in the figure skating competitions. He was also commissioned to design for the Miss Poland and Miss Hungary pageants.
He admires the designs of Valentino, Chanel and Calvin Klein. Among Filipino designers, he looks up to Pitoy Moreno and Patis Tesoro.
While he is known more as a clothes designer, he also has launched a jewelry line with various Czech jewel designers such as Petra Mohylova.
With Filipino designers doing well now, Noubikko says designers must continue to learn.
“Understand that a career in fashion designing is not an overnight thing, it is a career that is like wine. It is seasoned in time,” he says.
So what are his words of wisdom for future designers? “Have self-confidence. Art is beautiful and therefore its definition is also in the eye of the beholder. If someone finds your work beautiful, it only means that you are ‘in.’ The only thing left for you to do next is to follow it up and make more. Never give up. Never.”