I was dressed as a white bride to meet the CEO of Comme des Garcons

MILLINER MUSINGS - Mitch L. Dulce (The Philippine Star) - August 2, 2013 - 12:00am

I still remember the first time I “discovered” Comme des Garcons. In 2000 when I was a senior in college who suddenly decided to start making clothes, I did this little fashion show called “Scratch” with friends from the Abg’s days and made a 10-piece collection made only of denim and muslin. Cecile Zamora, who then owned Defect, came up to me after the show saying she liked my collection, saying some of the pieces were “parang Comme.” I said thanks but had no idea what she was talking about — I was just a 19-year-old raver then, I didn’t know anything about the fashion world. That little show led me to become Cecile’s intern, where I learned about designers, especially her favorite label, Comme des Garcons.

In 2001 my mom took me to Japan, my first trip after interning for Cecile. There were only three things I wanted to see: the Comme des Garcons and Yohji Yamamoto stores, and Harajuku. We went to Comme des Garcons the first day and when I entered the store and finally got to see the clothes in the flesh with my own eyes, my heart began to race and I could not breathe. My mom had never seen me so excited and she bought me my first-ever designer piece: a black jacket that was pretty much a flat piece of asymmetrically cut fabric with sleeves and hooks. When worn, it transformed into this magnificent thing that looked like a jumbo bow on my chest. It was amazing, and I still wear it to this day. 

It seems only appropriate that my meeting with Adrian Joffe, CEO of Comme des Garcons and head honcho of Dover Street Market, happened because of Cecile.  Jappy Gonzalez of H&F Retail Concepts (the company that owns Comme des Garcons in the Philippines) had invited her to dinner at Margarita Fores’s Lusso and she could take a “plus one.”  Needless to say, I was totally keen on going. I decided to wear an all-white outfit centered around my favorite Comme skirt, and wore a floral bridal veil I made two seasons ago to channel my favorite Comme collection to date, AW 2005’s broken brides with white faces (the same collection that inspired the wedding dress I had made for Everywhere We Shoot’s Garovs Garrovillo-Vergara last year). Cecile picked me up and I asked her about a million times, “Is the veil too much?” She said, “Sanay na sila sa ‘yo.” With that, I kept the hat on my head.

We arrived about an hour and a half late due to traffic and when we came in, the fan girl in me was overwhelmed. I could hardly sit still and couldn’t handle the fact that I was eating adobo with Rei Kawakubo’s husband. But Adrian was super friendly and made us feel at ease. Soon I was telling him about how I treasured the calling card of a Comme des Garcons employee who came to my first international showroom in Japan. When Cecile and I stepped out, he joined us and told us about Justin Timberlake visiting the Dover Street Market store and wearing a CDG Play shirt to his show, and I told him about how I won a ShowStudio competition that took place at DSM. Back at the table, we went from mangoes to the soon-to-open Dover Street Market New York, to Comme des F*ckdown, to Japanese food — Adrian was most gracious about everything.  I turned into a curious child and asked all sorts of questions nonstop, and Cecile eventually had to kick me and say “This is not an interview!” I couldn’t help it, I got carried away — for more than a decade Comme des Garcons has been a brand that I have always loved, and until now my heart still races like the way it did in Japan in 2001 each time I see the voluminous garments Rei Kawakubo makes in person. That moment was probably my only chance to pick the brain of someone who was part of it. Who could blame me?

Cecile and I left all giddy — it was a fantastic evening. The best thing in the world is when you meet people you admire and they are lovely, and it’s even better to know that such people in high places still exist. I always say that the worst thing about being in fashion is the whole snobbery and pretentiousness that goes along with it; I can’t stand it and it’s what puts me off what I do the most. I can’t tell you how reassuring it is to know that there are still super successful people who can keep their feet on the ground and that sincerity, kindness and humility in the industry still exists, and I’m even happier that it was meeting Adrian Joffe that showed me that. That, on its own, is just as inspiring as Comme des Garcons.

* * *

Comme des Garçons Manila is at Unit 102, Ground Floor, One Rockwell East Tower, Makati City, Philippines.  Many thanks to Jappy Gonzalez.

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