The new face of Herbench: Michelle Dee: ‘The toughest part of modeling is filling my mom Melanie Marquez’s shoes’
CULTURE VULTURE - Therese Jamora-Garceau (The Philippine Star) - February 20, 2016 - 9:00am

The new face of Herbench, Michelle Dee, has inherited a fantastic set of genes. Mom is none other than supermodel and beauty queen Melanie Marquez; Dad is Frederick Dee, a businessman. The younger of Marquez’s two daughters, Michelle is long-legged like her mom, with finely cut features and flawless skin. She’s also a strong character who possesses a special way with words: highly articulate and not afraid to venture an opinion.

Maybe it’s due to her American upbringing. Michelle was only three when she moved to the States, and came back to the Philippines when she was 15. (She’s 20 now, taking BA Psychology at De La Salle.)

“During that time my mom and stepdad would always move back and forth to the States, hence the decision of moving back here, because they spent more time here than in the States,” she says. “So I felt excited because I was always curious what they were doing here.”

During one trip where she accompanied her mom to a show in Cebu, Michelle happened to be seated next to Bench stylist Noel Manapat, who invited her to model for one of Bench’s shows.

“That’s when Bench took notice and wanted to sign me,” Michelle says.

Your mom was so proud of you after your fashion show.

Why, what embarrassing things did she tell you?

She told me you were a tomboy.

I was very athletic. My favorite sports are basketball and volleyball, hence the criticism. I was on my high school team in the States, and I kind of grew up with sports.

Had you done any professional modeling prior to Bench?

No, this is my debut thing. It’s overwhelming.

What’s the toughest part of the job?

Filling in my mom’s shoes. Being expected to be just like her or exceed her.

Did you have to deal with that growing up, or just now?

Just now. I mean, my mom, she would always give me hints, that she would want me to be this or to be that. But I never took her seriously because I always thought that I didn’t want to be in her shadow forever. And then I realized that that’s not the issue. I am my mom’s daughter but I’m also my own person. I can make my own mark in a different way.

What are your favorite pieces from the collection?

What I’m wearing. I also like the floral tops. The see-through skirts, I really love those, and the shoes.

How do you like to style them on yourself?

Pretty casually. I think my trademark whenever I wear outfits is that it’s feminine but sporty. It’s not like glamorous, but it’s not ugly. It’s pleasant to look at.

What are your wardrobe staples?

Casual sneakers with a printed top; a loose sweater with printed leggings just to contrast and balance it out. I’m also a fan of caps.

Are you a pants or skirt kind of girl?

Pants. I like the idea of moving around freely.

Sneakers or high heels?

Sneakers. They don’t kill your feet.

Who are your fashion icons?

Overall I really love Candice (Swanepoel) from Victoria’s Secret. I also like Miranda Kerr. Adrianne Ho, she’s a Ford model in New York and I just love her to death. I think if you look at her, the way she dresses up, that’s kind of how I dress up. And then there’s Kendall…

What are some of your beauty secrets?

The secret is nothing. I don’t put anything on my face. I wear makeup, sure, but I only put eyebrows. I don’t have a skincare routine — that’s my secret. One of the reasons I don’t like putting makeup on is because — I don’t have anything against it — it’s just I have nothing to cover up.

How do you keep fit?

I work out. Actually I stopped playing basketball and volleyball when I entered college, but I do work out four times a week at a minimum, one hour a day.

How would you define a beautiful woman today?

I think the standards of beauty nowadays have changed. It’s not the stick figures anymore. I think every individual is appreciated by how they carry themselves. The most beautiful people are the people who aren’t afraid to flaunt who they are, because everybody’s born in their own skin, so for you to be able to appreciate the body that you have, I think that’s the most beautiful aspect one person can have for themselves.

How do you embody the Herbench girl?

I think a Bench girl is just your everyday, normal girl — somebody that walks in the park, somebody that watches teleseryes, but is up to date on the latest trends.

Did your mom give you a pep talk before the show?

When Bench’s Jojo Liamzon approached me, I didn’t tell my mom first because she was in the States. So when the contract was being drafted, I was like (gasps), “Are you serious? You got to be kidding me. Me?” But when I told my mom, she said, “I expected that.” I mean, because she believes in me so much. That’s one of the things I love about her, because no matter what I do, she’s always like, “You’re up there, always believe in yourself.”

Did she give you any warnings or cautionary tales?

She said, “Don’t date every hot guy you meet.” (Laughs)

Are you fond of taking selfies?

Yeah.

Any tips for taking a good one?

Practice. You have to know your angle. And I think it’s my weakness. When I take a selfie, there can’t just be one on my phone. Like, when you look through my camera roll, there’ll be a hundred. And then I’d just pick the first one in the end.

What’s your favorite form of social media?

I love Instagram and I love Twitter.

Finish the sentence: I feel most beautiful when…

I just wake up. You know, the bed hair, when you’re flushed. Realistically speaking probably when people call me beautiful. Some people know they’re beautiful, but when other people acknowledge your beauty, that’s a different feeling. Especially when you don’t try.

 

 

 

 

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