Nikki Coseteng and her kaftans: âBahala na si Batwoman!â
Nikki Coseteng in her Kaftan One with a neckpiece she also designed herself: “Kaftans are my way of eliminating stress during the pandemic.”

Nikki Coseteng and her kaftans: ‘Bahala na si Batwoman!’

LIFE AND STYLE - Millet M. Mananquil (The Philippine Star) - June 16, 2021 - 12:00am

Nikki Coseteng was wearing her favorite short, sexy mini, miniskirt actually a tennis outfit when I first had lunch with her decades ago.

Today we still have lunches but her look has morphed: long kaftan plus beaded neckpiece, both made by her.

The transition marks the many incarnations in her life. As a young, beauteous head turner, Nikki was an art collector and she turned this passion into a business she enjoyed: Galerie Dominique.

Her father, Emerson Coseteng, founder of the Philippine Basketball Association, was team owner of the Mariwasa-Noritake basketball team, but when he suffered a stroke, Nikki took over and renamed the team after her art gallery.

Nikki designs her kaftans one at a time, since each fabric has a different design and texture.

She says collecting is in her genes, and when burglars took over her house one day, they took her collection of watches. Her dad thus gifted her with a Rolex watch, “the only watch I’ve ever owned since then.”

Then she became a fierce street parliamentarian, and she was armed with her battle cries as a senator, and later as a QC congresswoman. Being fierce and fearless is also in her genes, but today she would rather be an educator as she runs the Diliman Preparatory School, a job she thoroughly enjoys.

But wait — Nikki has a new passion. She is now into kaftans. ”One day, I realized I had collected so many fabrics from travels. Then I remembered my two longtime seamstresses who had no clients because of COVID. So I designed my fabrics into kaftans and felt happy giving them incomes. I thought that since we were in a lockdown and imprisoned at home, we might as well look not shabby every day. I had several new kaftans for myself, I discarded my old dusters and house dresses, which looked pretty depressing!”

Before she knew it, Nikki had created so many kaftans. Why not turn it into a productive hobby? “Kaftans are so comfortable and so liberating — they hide what you need to hide. Kaftans can be used for casual or elegant events. Perfect for resort wear, too.“

Kaftans go well, too, with her collection of beads, which she has been transforming into neckpieces. So she gave her kaftans a brand name: Kaftan One, with a butterfly logo.

Why a butterfly? “When I see a butterfly appearing, especially when I go to a new place, I feel my mother’s presence. I feel she is with me when I am alone. The butterfly assures me that I am taken care of. I chose it as my logo because the butterfly is graceful, and it has many colors and patterns, just like kaftans. It also symbolizes freedom.“

Nikki’s mother was Alice Marquez-Lim Coseteng, who was ambassador to Mexico, a book author and academician. She was my professor at UP MassComm, and she was quite an elegant lady.

Nikki collected her textiles — actually slices of culture and history — from trips to Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai, Japan, Korea, China, Mexico, Peru, France and Belgium. “Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam have their share of beautiful ikat in woven silk,” says Nikki. “It was my habit to come home with one suitcase of fabrics, aside from my suitcase of personal belongings.”

With these imported fabrics, plus her Philippine collection of piña, pinilian and t’nalak, Kaftan One started to flutter and fly.

Nikki says: “I took many deep breaths, and shazam! Go for it! I told myself: Bahala na si Batwoman!”

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For inquiries and orders, contact Kaftan One at 0968-349-7132.

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Follow the author on Instagram and Facebook @milletmartinezmananquil. Email her at mmmananquil@philstarmedia.com and milletman88@gmail.com

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