Puey Quinones flies high in the USA
LIVIN’ AND LOVIN’ - Tetta Ortiz Matera (The Philippine Star) - July 9, 2014 - 12:00am

Don’t let Puey Quinones’ slight build or quiet demeanor fool you. He is dynamite as a person and a designer. One of the most articulate, passionate and involved persons I have met in the fashion industry, he is retaking his rightful place in fashion, albeit thousands of miles away from his homeland.

Now in his 30s, Puey was a young, celebrated fashion designer at one point, unique and full of talent, who distinguished himself from the onset with his well-crafted minimalist and structured pieces in a cutthroat, fickle industry. He stood out, his clothes stood out — he was the darling of Philippine fashion. Then, call it bravado or plain recklessness, he slipped up royally, fell from fashion grace, and retreated into a life of anonymity and regret.

Fast forward to 2013 when he re-emerged as a mentor/designer competitor in last year’s Mega Young Designers Competition (YDC) All-Stars. Humbled by his experience, which he admitted was all his own doing, he braved the comments and all the negativity and proved he had not lost an ounce of his creative genius. Although he did not win the competition, he came out on top in most of the challenges and reaffirmed himself as a worthy designer.

Puey has since taken his fashion design career across continents and firmly transplanted himself in the city of Los Angeles. Following the Mega YDC Competition, a show at LA’s Unici Casa in September 2013 led to an offer from an agent there who wanted to represent him. 

Within 10 months of calling Los Angeles his home, Quinones was invited by J Model Management to participate in the J Summer Fashion Show in New York City at the newly opened World Trade Center Freedom Tower.

The J Summer Fashion Show is a series of much-anticipated, history-making catwalks held in some of the most iconic venues worldwide, such as the London Tower Bridge, the Seine River in Paris, the Gardens by the Bay-Skyway in Singapore and the Costa Atlanta in Dubai. The top fashion magazines and media outlets cover it. Honored by the recognition and grateful for the opportunity, he accepted the invitation to the show held last June 25.

Quinones joined other designers, creative artists and brands from Lebanon, Peru, Spain, Indonesia, United States, Germany, Brazil, India and Russia in what has turned out to be a career-defining moment for him. Not only did he make Philippine fashion history by being the first Filipino fashion designer to present a collection at the iconic Big Apple landmark, he took the spotlight in interviews and features with media powerhouses like CBS and Fox News New York.

His 15-piece collection, entitled “Fly,” reflects the spirit and design of the venue — ethereal, hopeful, powerful and stunning. Not one to miss out on the irony of the experience, Puey clearly identified with the symbolisms of the World Trade Center: to rise after a fall, to fly and soar with a vision, renewed confidence and newfound strength.

Quinones has since returned to Los Angeles from his successful debut in New York City and has just finished setting up his atelier/showroom/office in downtown LA. He is going back to school this year to further his knowledge of fashion and business and is quite thrilled with the prospect of becoming a student once again. 

I asked him why Los Angeles and not New York, the logical if not presumed default choice of most fashion hopefuls. He told me that LA is actually the perfect place to be because it is where most celebrity stylists are. He dreams of seeing his creations on the red carpet and, while a gig providing some costumes for the Katy Perry Dark Horse video is not quite Hollywood just yet, it is a step in the right direction. Still hush-hush, Puey is also providing clothes for an American television show currently in production.

Quinones is nostalgic about Manila and looking forward to coming home one day and continuing his project with prison inmates involving fashion. He admits to missing his family and friends from the fashion industry who stood by him, his hometown of Samar, the food and our beautiful beaches. He gamely owed up to the brouhaha from his past, saying, “That was meant to happen. I needed to be ruined in order to transform my life. I believe that it was a gift, a blessing that allowed me to learn a valuable lesson. More importantly, it has brought me closer to God.”

A fan of Hussein Chalayan and Yohji Yamamoto, Puey has imbibed the American way of doing business and is loving it. He has a manager-partner who handles the business aspect of the Puey Quinones enterprise, an agent/representative who takes care of pullouts, celebrity and editorial placements, a PR manager who takes care of all media inquiries, a lawyer who sees to all legal concerns and an accountant who oversees the financial side of the business. “It is wonderful how everything is very systematic and professional in the US; because I have proper representation, I don’t have to worry about anything. I just create, which is liberating,” he says.

His designs have evolved somewhat, inspired by the lifestyle and people of LA, but he has kept his signature dramatic, monastic look. At his atelier, he showcases ready-to-wear, cocktail, evening and bridal wear that channels this newfound aesthetic with quiet elegance and modern flair. Puey has set his sights on selling to boutiques, specialty and department stores across the United States that carry designer brands. His favorite piece from the World Trade Center Freedom Tower show, a short, multi-colored feather dress, has been picked up by a Fifth Avenue store in New York City. Given his current momentum, there is no doubt in my mind that it will just be a matter of time before his lofty dream takes stratospheric flight.

* * *

Special thanks to Elgin Zulueta Public Relations-Los Angeles for providing the photos for this article.

Follow me on Twitter and on Instagram @tettaortiz.

BIG APPLE FASHION J SUMMER FASHION SHOW LOS ANGELES NEW YORK CITY PUEY PUEY QUINONES UNITED STATES WORLD TRADE CENTER FREEDOM TOWER
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