When YStyle was young

BENT ANTENNA - Audrey N. Carpio (The Philippine Star) - August 16, 2013 - 12:00am

Ten years of YStyle roughly equals 520 Wednesday nights spent at the Port Area, divided by a handful of women with very different approaches to fashion. When I ran into Bea Ledesma, Celine Lopez and Ana Kalaw at the taping for the anniversary, we all agreed that “nobody really leaves the Philippine Star.” We’re all doing other things now — I’m at Esquire, Ana writes for a Bangkok daily, Celine just released her novel (download The Recorded History of A Girl now on Amazon) and Bea’s eventually retiring after a nine-year reign to focus on her design projects — but you could say we all cut our publishing teeth on this weekly section, pre-social media, I might add.

Celine started YStyle under the guidance of Millet Mananquil, and as a Wednesday night closer at the Star, I gravitated toward the new section because it seemed like an exciting place to be, tapping into the growing fashion self-consciousness brought on by style-driven shows like Sex and the City, in a generation enculturated by the Internet. We finally broke up with baduy. We experimented. We explored and exposed everything new. We were producing magazine-like features for a newspaper, all on a shoestring budget supported by friendly favors, personal connections and our own pockets.

In the early days, it was truly a guerilla operation. We’d shoot without permits, lights, or even a professional photographer (the YStyle crew and friends all took turns styling, shooting, even modeling.) One time, I used my Canon Power Shot G5 (on full auto mode) and we drove around Escolta with a model and a handful of dresses from Cebuano designer Jun Escario, who had just set up shop in Manila. Another time, I was the “Blow-Up” girl for a David Bailey/mod ‘60s-inspired editorial. We went to so many events that Celine memorably quipped, “Launch launch launch. Party party party. Rave rave rave.”

I scoured my e-mail for anything dating back to 2003, the year of inception. I found this letter from Celine, addressed to me, Victor Consunji and Chut Cuerva:


NOV. 27, 2003

Hi there guys! Just really want to thank you for taking the extra mile for YSTYLE. This last one was a particularly stressful one, and it seems to me that it will not be the last. However, it just makes me feel so good that this little baby of ours is in such fight hands! I appreciate the time you set aside for this, I know how it can cramp your styles especially for the two bachelors Victor and Chut. I’m glad that YSTYLE is as important to you as it is to me. We all built this together and I’m really happy with what we have every week. Well almost...sometimes delilah strikes. I know I’m getting corny but I’m just really beaming that we’re doing this together. There’s not a more solid and dynamic team that I would rather work with than you guys.

Anyway just wanted to give a big e-kiss. To more fight issues!


I don’t recall what particular stressful issue it was, perhaps one with a hefty six sections and us scrambling to fill it up and getting to leave only at 5 a.m. But it was our baby, and like all new parents, we stayed up all night, didn’t know what the heck we were doing a lot of the times, made many mistakes, was sometimes too indulgent, and sometimes had to practice tough love. And we watched it grow up. I left for graduate school the following year just when YStyle was getting its legs, and when I came back in 2008, the section had undergone many logo and writer changes, but the most important one was that Bea had taken over managing duties, professionalizing it with a system of deadlines and a stable of regular contributors. She is the section’s most simultaneously feared and loved individual.

YStyle will always possess a scrappy heart because of its DIY roots. But it’s also considered a pioneer, being forever linked to the designers, photographers and models who started in the early mid-2000s and who are now super huge.

Print publishing is kind of in a weird place right now because of the Internet (call it the BuzzFeed effect) but it’s a testament to YStyle’s endurance and unique character that designers, photographers, models, and writers, old or new, still get excited to see their work come out on Fridays. I know I do.

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