Inspiration or imitation? Designer behind controversial Maja Salvador dress speaks up
Maja Salvador with boyfriend Rambo Nunez at the ABS-CBN Ball 2009 red carpet (left); Maja showing her Puey Quiñones gown Leandicho, File; Maja Salvador via Instagram, screenshot
Inspiration or imitation? Designer behind controversial Maja Salvador dress speaks up
Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo ( - November 11, 2019 - 3:06pm

MANILA, Philippines — Los Angeles-based Filipino designer Puey Quiñones has explained his side on claims that he allegedly copied famed Lebanese fashion designer Elie Saab’s work for actress Maja Salvador’s Filipiniana gown at the recent ABS-CBN Ball 2019.

It can be recalled that website Fashion Pulis compared Maja’s gown made by Quinones to Saab’s. The site captioned the post, “Inspiration or Imitation: Elie Saab vs. Puey Quiñones.”

From left: Model Cindy Bruna in Elie Saab Couture early this year; Maja Salvador wearing a Puey Quinones creation and together with boyfriend Rambo Nunez at the red carpet. Cindy Bruna via Instagram; Leandicho

“For me, it’s an inspiration,” Puey declared in an exclusive interview with during the recent Manila launch of his Cocomelody bridal brand.

“Imitation if you do it exactly the same, but mine is completely different given the fabrics that I used, the pattern,” he explained.

He said it was the actress’ styling team that chose the actress’ look.

“The truth is the stylist gave me an inspiration. They showed me the peg… And I just want to interpret it in my own version. I told them, ‘I just want to have my own take to it’.”

Quiñones is not new to controversies. Years ago, he was exposed for re-tagging a department store suit and claiming it as his own. 

“I feel bad that people focus on things like that,” the designer from Samar admitted.

He, however, said he still stands with his 'design' for Maja.

“I thought: 'She’s happy with her dress. I’m happy with it',” he said of Maja’s gown, which was also named as among the best that walked on the red carpet that night.

Likewise, Puey denied that Maja approached him for her gown for rumored wedding plans with boyfriend Rambo Nuñez.

Nonetheless, he would love to dress her up for the big day. 

“Of course! It’s an honor,” he declared.

During Cocomelody’s Manila launch, Puey introduced the global bridal brand’s inexpensive line of wedding dresses for Filipino brides who have “a very busy lifestyle” that they “don’t have time to go back and forth” for fittings.

“You can go to our salon, try it (the gown). If you don’t want something, we can change (the dress) a little bit,” he explained.

The Philippines, he said, remains a big market for the bridal industry because “we’re a Catholic country” where a “wedding is a requirement for a couple to be together.”

Filipina brides usually go for big ball gowns with intricate beading and embroidery, he shared.

“But I want them to go for something for more timeless and classic,” he enthused.

For Maja, what kind of wedding gown would he recommend?

“She has a very beautiful body. So I think, she should show that,” he said.

“I haven’t decided on that yet. But I would make something beautiful, and original, for sure!”

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