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Young Star

Dynamic darling designers

- Alessandra Tinio -
As writers, we are always on the lookout for that big scoop, something that could be the next big thing. As a fashion writer it happened to me on a shopping trip to The I Love You Store. It was there I discovered two brilliant, gifted, amazing, fabulous and incredibly young (but wise beyond their years) designers.

I am not a compulsive shopper. I only buy items that call out to me. I can go window-shopping for months before I take something home. I like my clothing unique and innovative yet feminine and sultry, but rarely do I find this innovative and avant-guard style. But at I Love You, I was moved and amazed at what I had found. I purchased a very sexy backless dress with a cute bustle made out of a man’s suit jacket, an adorable brown tie and other pieces with various interesting and almost unbelievable embellishments. I had just tried on a beautiful outer top with a train and was wishing I’d had enough to purchase them both. I assumed it might have been a Mimi Sanson creation but as Corinne rang up the dress she mentioned the makers of my two outfits were two 18-year-old best friends. This was the first time as a fashion writer I knew I had found a scoop.

As someone who loves punk culture, I was drawn to their experimental designs. They have a combined instinct for artistry and innovation that challenges the imagination, echoing early Westwood. What they make bears a provocative and D.I.Y. glam aesthetic present. Before meeting the two ingénues I requested a brief bio and basic background, and I was impressed by their aim of reviving the dying idea of haute couture. I was eager to meet them after reading some of their statements, such as Goeff saying, "I like it when fashion moves a person. Also, when it crosses the line between simply wearable to performance art." Or Mike stating, "I believe that fashion is art and vice versa. Therefore you must be a good artist in order to be a good designer."

The two best friends found their instinct for fashion at an early age. Geoff practiced making outfits for friends in high school and went into research, reading up on designers, magazines and trends. But he was really moved to take a chance after watching the 2000 Victoria’s Secret fashion show. The door to his career opened when he was taken under the wing of the ladies at The I Love You Store via a common friend. That friend being Jeje, the lead vocalist of rock group Giniling Festival. Partner-in-crime Mike always knew he had an instinct for fashion. He recalls his mother’s beauty rituals, admiring and studying the way she made herself look fabulous. His style takes inspiration from a helper’s uniform, clubbers and even fruits. It is this equally stylish and enthusiastic personality that brought him into The I Love You Store with his best friend.

Under the watchful eyes of Mimi Sanson, Sharon Atillo and Corinne Ching, the two create, design and innovate at the store studio space.

Geoff’s pieces are intricate works of art. From a suit jacket reworked into a dress, to a vest reworked as a skirt, he almost challenges you to wear his unique pieces. In his own words: "It’s such a delight to see never before seen clothing. I love experimenting with the impracticality of clothing, the irritability and almost unearthly vision of fashion." Mike’s pieces are equally artistic but he also has his own distinct style which revolves around unique ways to flatter the female body. As he says, "I love the female form." The artistry of his form-fitting pieces, from bustier tops with capes to equally intriguing embellishments, has a definite feminine touch.

Meeting the two was an experience in itself. They are as fabulous as their clothes, and as intelligent and passionate as I imagined they would be. Both dressed as if it were the year "Ziggy Stardust" was released, they possess a fun freethinking mindset.

I leave relaxed, knowing that the future of local fashion is in good hands. I can only look forward to what this dynamic duo has to offer in the future, when they’re done with school that is.
* * *
The designs of Geoff Gonzales and Mike Lavarez can be found at The I Love You Store, located at 7480 Underground, Pilar Place, Makati Avenue, Makati.

FASHION

GEOFF

GEOFF GONZALES AND MIKE LAVAREZ

GINILING FESTIVAL

I LOVE YOU

I LOVE YOU STORE

LOVE

MAKATI AVENUE

MIMI SANSON

OR MIKE

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