It’s Lit: My Current Favorite Highlighters

Luminescence is what it’s all about, baby.

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Ah, sheen. Aside from the word “dewy” being thrown around incessantly in beauty conversations, there has always been a fixation on glowing skin. Glow- as in real genuine glow- is apparently only achieved by religiously taking care of skin (and body). And if you’re anything like me and can’t seem to find the energy for or dedication to a 10-step skin regimen, the good news is that glow can always be faked, just like everything else.

I personally love the concept of a glow. To me it’s reminiscent of being blooming or having such a bright, infectious aura. And I doubt that anyone actually wants to portray an aura that’s more gloomy than not. There’s just something about the way sheen can lift the way one looks.

I have recently learned that sheen can be piled on. Which is great because the number of makeup items I own dedicated solely to illumination is becoming more and more embarrassing, so the more products I can use in one go to save my financially-conscious, cost-per-wear-computing ass, the better. And in order to save you guys the trouble of buying way too many products or, maybe more accurately, helping you find the best of the best, I’ve rounded up five of my all-time highlighter favourites based on consistency and it’s ability to make your face lit. Luminescence is what it’s all about, baby.

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The Cream: MAC Strobe Cream The story behind me falling in love with this product is your typical run of the mill beauty story- I saw it being used on someone else and needed to have it for myself. It has a light, liquid consistency which you can easily mix with your liquid foundation for a dewy base or apply after your makeup on the parts you want to accentuate. It’s pretty subtle so if you want to really pile on the sheen, use it as a sort of highlighter primer and add another product on top of it. This is perfect for a more natural look or a no makeup-makeup look. I just use my fingers to dab the product on my cheekbones and cupid’s bow.

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The Powder: BENEFIT Dandelion Twinkle I am absolutely in love with this product. First of all, it’s #PackagingGoals. Second of all, it gives off a nice natural pinkish lustre. A little definitely goes a long way with this powder. Like its sister, the original Dandelion Blush, it already comes with its own brush. Use as much as you want based on the wattage you prefer. It has a whole lot of shimmer so it’s perfect for those who want hints of glitter.

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The Palette: SLEEK Solstice Highlighter Palette If you want a combination of textures and colors, Sleek’s Solstice palette is the perfect product for you. I know a lot of people who have this product and wax poetic about it. It has two cream quadrants and two powder ones that really let you play with the finishes and extent of the highlight. I love to use the gold-toned powder when I’m going for a more sun-kissed look and the creamy pink formulation on days I want my skin to glow a little more naturally.

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The Stick: BENEFIT Watt’s Up! This is definitely the easiest product to use out of the bunch for me. It’s a cream-based stick so you have a lot more control in terms of application  and, at the same time, it has a sponge end to easily blend the product- minus the hassle of getting your hands dirty. The cream-to-powder finish boasts of a delicate champagne glow that works well for all complexions. But really, more than the finish and the luminosity, it’s the sponge that is a cake-topper in my book.

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The Multifunctional product: ESTEE EDIT Gritty & Glow Palette Okay, this isn’t actually just a highlighter- it’s a magnetic eye and face palette (eyeshadow side not pictured). It comes with 12 shades in two palettes that you can easily play with and I love a product that is versatile in multiple senses of the word. This particular palette features six highlight shades that I use for both my cheeks and my eyes. It’s ultra-pearlized and is flattering for all skin tones. If you can’t find the exact shade or glow you like, it’s especially easy to mix and match. I use the white ones for the inner corners of my eyes and use the pink ones for my cheekbones. It’s a really good palette and I, along with Kendall Jenner, recommend this highly.

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I told you it’s lit.

Nowhere Can Be Somewhere

What do you do with your what ifs?

What if?

Doesn’t that question haunt even the happiest of people? Those people who seem to have no regrets — risk takers, dream chasers, the kind of people we all secretly and some not-so-secretly wish we could be.

What if we took a shot. What if we took a different path. Different job. Different relationship. Different city. Different continent. What if we had the guts to look at life, take it by the horns, and just jump in. We’d probably still have what ifs. But they may not be as nagging. That’s what I love about life. Imagine an infinite number of universes all hinged on the different decisions you make where everything can change in an instant and everything hangs on a second. Imagine the power each second holds.

A couple of weeks ago we entered the realm of unlimited possibilities when we were whisked away on a trip to Laguna by my all-time favorite accessory brand, Parfois. As usual, we were fed copious amounts of food—starting on the ride over up until the moment we left.

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When we got to the venue, we were immediately whisked right into our what ifs— our potential alternate realities. The set up of the event itself was beautiful. An empty pool drained of water and instead filled with the new goodies from Parfois’ new SS17 collection, Nowhere Can Be Somewhere. Think: bags, shoes, sunglasses, and heaps of cute and trendy accessories inspired by nature. A delicate mix of minimalist and romantic pieces that draw inspiration from the 50s, 60s, and the 70s, the collection boasts of a bevy of materials and looks from denim to patchwork, quilts to metallics, and straw to raffia.

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Susana Coerver, who flew in from the Parfois HQ in Portugal, introduced the collection to us and talked a little bit about her own inspiring what if— a dream she then pursued much like the rest of the people in that group. Not all events require audience participation but Parfois’ events are always intimate and we did talk a little bit about ourselves and chatted with friends we haven’t seen in a long time. We were then treated to a sumptuous seven-course meal prepared by The Gypsy Chef. Each dish was both beautiful and photographable. From experience, Parfois tends to come up with interesting activities throughout usually starting with something edible—which really is the only way to start. Our first for the day involved having to design our own deconstructed pavlova masterpieces— a task we took seriously.

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In between eating and heading on to the next activity, we found our way to the trenches of the empty pool ogling the items and trying on the pieces that caught our eye. My personal favorites included tiered straw earrings, pineapple studs, gold insect-studded slip-ons, and a red purse covered in a blanket of floral applique.

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We then headed to my favorite part of the day—when we had to draw our self-portraits. I was lucky enough to be seated at a table with such artistic people that I remember having looked quite a few times over at their work and having felt a little competitive. I also spent an absurd amount of time trying to blend the pastels on my work and ended up really getting my hands dirty.

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We then huddled in a group so that the expert could discuss our work one by one and, lo and behold, her prognosis on how we saw ourselves were pretty accurate. She analysed the colors that we used, the shapes, down to the little intricacies of the features. It was actually a really cool exercise and I would definitely recommend it for a fun day of trying to be creative.

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I always, always love whatever new collection Parfois offers. I’m in that store almost every two weeks just checking out new items in stock. But what I especially like about this particular launch is that aside from the fact that the pieces are objectively dope, the story behind the collection resonates with me. “PARFOIS introduces a collection created with adventurous, free women in mind, women who live every moment, enjoy every moment, embrace change as if it were an old friend, and are always ready for the unexpected. A true declaration of independence that is up to each one of us.”

And that, my friends, is such a beautiful way to capture the heart of the modern woman, don’t you think?

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Touring Avon City

I got to know the 130-year-old powerhouse brand more intimately at their recent event.

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When I was younger, I remember browsing through Avon catalogues and choosing items that caught my eye. I devoured the pages dedicated to teens and even then, the number of items I actually wanted for myself were overwhelming. My absolute favorite was the Simply Pretty clear mascara that I used in my early high school years. It felt like an induction into womanhood and the world of makeup. I absolutely loved it.

Fast forward a decade later and I found myself face to face with the same items I used to love so dearly back in the day at the recent Avon City event held at the SMX Convention Center last May 18, 2017. As you may well know, Avon is a direct selling company—the number one in the country, mind you—hence the catalogues and the Avon ladies through which you religiously ordered. The premise of the recent event was to highlight some of the best brands that have been consistent market toppers in intimates, fragrances, lotions, and more. The event was completely experiential and products that were featured in the different booths were up for grabs. Guests were given freebies of the bestsellers from each booth.

The event really felt like going through a very pink, very feminine city complete with a city tour. The press tour began with what Avon is best known for—intimates. At the “Loungerie”—love the play on words—guests got to choose their favorite bras from the newest Intimate Apparel line and get properly checked for size. Apparently a lot of women still wear the wrong bra size because no one has helped them accurately determine what size fits best.

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The first stop: the Loungerie

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After a trip to the Loungerie, we went to the Be Arcade station with a “bus” gondola of the bestselling Avon Fragrances, the Be Spritz line. Of course, we all tried to smell most—if not all—of the scents. We even got bottles of some of the brand’s other bestsellers.

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After that we headed to the Personal Care and Color Theater where different promo combinations of the best selling lotion, the Skin So Soft Hand & Body Lotion, and the Avon True Color Perfectly Matte Lipstick were offered. We swatched way too many shades that, of course, I ended up with lipstick on my dress. Story of my beauty addict life.

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We then headed to the Home & Kids sections where we got to see a glimpse of Pokemon inspired bags and school paraphernalia. Trust me, if I was still in school, I’d buy those. Full disclosure: I used to wear this Pikachu skirt when I was nine. It even got stuck in an escalator in Universal Studios. True story.

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The next stop was my favorite, the gorgeous Jewelry Chocolaterie that showcased the cutest offerings of the Avon Jewelry & Accessories brand with dainty necklaces, earrings, rings, and watches.

The Avon Accessories Cake Shop wasn’t so bad either as bag after bag was mounted on the wall with a mountain of cupcakes right by it. I couldn’t decide which made me happier— the food or the items.

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Bag after Bag at the Cake Shop Station

After lugging around cupcakes and stuffing our faces with cotton candy and popcorn, we headed to the Avon Skin Care Juice Bar to “detox” alongside some of the most nourishing beauty products of Avon Naturals. I was really happy to see that they have a wide range of masks and I’ve been wanting to get on that mask bandwagon. I got the Soothing and Moisturizing masks to start.

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Masks to hoard!

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Our last stop was the Simply Pretty Picnic Park with throwbacks from my youth. Glitter roll-on eyeshadow products, two-toned lipsticks, and my absolute favorite, the clear mascara were featured. I’m so tempted to just get clear mascara again to avoid black under-eyes after a few minutes under the sun.

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Remember these?

The fun event was actually for the “Avon ladies”—the women behind the powerhouse brand that we know today. We got the first tour and we did see a horde of excited guests (and when I say horde I mean 1,500 women) making their way through the different booths and activities. I personally think it’s great that they’ve created such a wonderful event with lots of treats for the women who work hard to sell the products to the public. They put so much value in making their sales force feel loved and for them to actually get to know the products that they sell intimately. I loved witnessing that. And of course, I loved trying out the stuff for myself too. ‘Til the next!

SUMMER STATE OF MIND | AVON TRUE COLOR

On how a modern Filipina interprets summer beauty

You’re straight up lyin’ if you say you aren’t feeling the summer season already. Unless you exclusively maneuver in air-conditioned spaces, it’s sweltering. Times like these are when I especially want to be whisked away to a beach—any beach—for respite from the humdrum of daily reality. Imagine spending your days lounging by the shore on some pool chair, donning a killer pair of sunglasses and the ubiquitous straw hat, leisurely turning the pages of your chosen book with a bottomless glass of frozen margarita in tow. I think that’s a pretty concrete picture of my personal summer dream.

Alas, life is not so forgiving and though we have literally thousands of islands, we can’t always just drive off and go. See, the modern woman wears way too many hats and often has way too many responsibilities to just pack up and go on a whim. My only solution to this dilemma is to just exude a summer frame of mind. Now, I’m not just talking about wearing swimsuits to work or actually ordering frozen drinks—both of which I’d probably actually do. I’m talking about imbibing the feel of summer by way of one’s beauty choices. Who cares if you didn’t actually go to the beach if your bronzed glow is deceptively natural? You can still be on point for summer AND be within a few feet of the nearest AC. That’s a pretty good trade-off.

For that faux-summer fun (that hopefully will turn into actual fun), it’s easy to don three favorite summer looks: the bronzed look, the dewy look, and the fresh-faced look with a bright lip. With a little help from AVON, I did just that.

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The bronzed look is probably the look that perfectly captures being an island girl. This “Oh, I got two shades darker, it’s no big deal, I’m just golden now” look is the perfect way to fake that week-long frolic under the sun. Nothing feels as anti-summer as a face lacking color. Plus a bronzed look goes perfectly well with some of the more in-season sartorial trends. Because I didn’t have a bronzer with me , I actually used two different shades of Avon’s Oil Control Plus Pressed Powder with SPF 19. Even when you’re not strolling under the sun the harsh rays are unforgiving. I used a shade two shades darker than my skin color to contour my face and the product one shade darker for a bronzed finish. I also used the Perfect Eyebrow Kit in Soft Brown to make the look stronger (you can also use this to add definition in your contouring). I capped off this look with hints of gold and peach tones.

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both photos in this look were taken by Charles Rudolfo

The dewy look is all about the sheen. For this I’m using the Avon CC Cream because I want the base light and I don’t want to seem like I packed several products on. If you don’t have a highlighter, a trick I use is to just use the cream/white shimmery eyeshadow option and use it on the high points of your face. Ta-dah! Instant product! In this case I’m using number 1 or Disco in the Eyeshadow Quad Palette in Glow Teal. I got a bunch of Avon’s Lip Stylos and I love them. They glide like tints. I just applied a quick creamy blush—the Lip Stylo actually works well as a cheek tint too (so versatile!) and capped the look off with eyeliner, mascara, and a bold pop of color on the lip. Lipstick is the easiest way to don that bold summer look. For day I’d use the Ultra Hydrating Lip Color in Peach Petunia but for a night out I’d use Red Tulip.

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The fresh look is probably my favorite because it’s the easiest and I’m all about the ease. Modern Filipinas don’t have a lot of time to spare so a quick makeup routine works best with tight schedules. (I mean we will take time to apply lipstick in between saving the world but still.) For this I used the BB Cream as the base and topped it off with the Oil Control Powder. I also lined my eyes with number 3 on the Glow Teal Eyeshadow Quad palette—the Teal shade for that fresh pop of color just for fun. I finished it with a makeshift lip tint by softly dabbing on the Beauty Lip Stylo in Sunset and not completely swiping. I finished the look with the Supershock Max Volume Mascara because if your mascara isn’t waterproof, the heat will turn you into a post-crying mascara-running-through-your-face meme. I kid you not. A big trend this summer is feathered brows—where the brows aren’t perfectly filled in but rather messily brushed, so I tried my hand at that too (under the bangs).

I played around with my Avon products and found that I can use them for multiple purposes especially if I’m lacking certain products in my makeup arsenal. The products are pretty versatile so if there’s ever a time to experiment with where you can apply products and stretch them, the summer is the perfect season to do just that. Have fun with your summer looks and go bold. Makeup can definitely help dictate our state of mind and these looks will have you thinking relaxation, enjoyment, and a certain dash of audacity in no time.

Visit the Avon website for more information on the products 

Bold is Beautiful | Benefit Cosmetics

Get (brow) waxed to do good.

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I would like to believe that everyone is philanthropic—everyone has a great desire to help. That’s why we hit ‘Like’ on posts of Upworthy, easily send virtual love to featured Humans of New York, and, conversely, why we’re in collective outrage over posts of animals being maltreated. I’d like to believe that at our very core we are actually good even if recent events have led us to think otherwise.

The desire to help is always ingrained in us. What hinder us, maybe, from acting on this noble desire are the misconceptions we have on what ‘helping’ really means and what it demands.

Charity is such an intimidating and concept. Think about it: how many times have you deliberately avoided a stall at the mall where volunteers try to get you to sign up for their cause? Charity always registers as an obligation—a duty that requires a lot of time and effort to fulfill. All of a sudden it feels like weekends will suddenly be booked helping kids or building houses under the harsh sun (not that those couldn’t be fun don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried both). But I think we have this notion that charity means sacrifice—and lots of it. It also sometimes feels like it demands a change in lifestyle, something we may not be ready for.

But helping doesn’t have to be as grand as dedicating all weekends to field work. And I especially appreciate when brands make it so easy to help others out that saying no isn’t even a consideration. Take Benefit Cosmetics, for instance. A cult favourite of beauty aficionados, Benefit Cosmetics, aside from having the cutest products with the most peacock-worthy packaging, is finally rolling out their outreach efforts here in the  Philippines after such huge success runs in the US.

The premise is simple. All proceeds from brow waxes during the month of May will go to help the local partner charity, Mano Amiga. Mano Amiga is a private, non-profit organization that offers affordable education for girls of low-income families. Each brow wax service costing PHP700 will provide one of the ff: a 2-hour leadership training session for girls, 3 months’ worth of school supplies (imagine that!), or a 4-month livelihood and empowerment program for a student’s mom, because part of helping families is also equipping the parents. Benefit’s Global Beauty Authority, Annie Ford Danielson, recently graced the launch of the campaign here in the Philippines and it was a huge success as everybody seemed to leave inspired and keen on helping.

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with Jackie, Angela, and Marj at the launch

I’m extremely honoured to have been part of inviting people to have their brows waxed in May via the video we shot to easily make a huge difference in the lives of little girls everywhere. Empowering little girls and enabling them to pursue their passions is a great gift to anyone—to underprivileged kids with untapped potential even moreso.

For the video, they asked me what being bold means and what empowerment looks like to me. I said a bunch of things but in reality, when it comes down to it, I think empowerment is achieved by empowering others. And looking good is such an easy way to do good too, no?

Watch the video (above) and get your brows waxed this May! Both men and women are welcome.

Thank you so much, Benefit, for letting me be part of such a special project!

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with my loves Angela, Nikki, and Jackie

 

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Benefit Browbars are available in Greenbelt 5, Trinoma, Mall of Asia, SM Megamall, Alabang Town Center, SM Seaside City Cebu, BGC Central Square, Rustan’s Makati and Rustan’s Shangri-la and will run from May 1-31, 2017

Of Secret Handshakes and Pinky Promises

When it comes to makeup, I don’t compromise.

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How many promises have you made throughout your lifetime? A hundred? A thousand?

I learned the value of a promise early on in life. Imagine my 5-year-old self making a bashful promise to a friend to meet up again for a play date in the park. “I promise to meet right here by the seesaw!” I also vividly remember holding on to my mother’s promise of getting the Mermaid Barbie doll for Christmas—the one with the luscious, long hair (that I eventually chopped off into a pixie). I also—I kid you not—held Santa Claus to his promises. I’d write him a wishlist of things I wanted and I’d look into his eyes as I’d sit on his lap and hope to goodness that he delivers. He always did. (Thanks, family, for keeping up the charade—one I was too naive to see through. Also, you owe me for hanging that Naughty or Nice list over my head for way too long.)

Promises have always demanded trust, even when trust wasn’t deserved. I did get the Barbie dolls come Christmas time and I’m pretty sure play dates pushed through, but I as I got older promises didn’t seem to hold the same weight as before—even if the promises escalated in importance and meaning. Sometimes, even if the intent is there and you do really want to keep your promises, life gets in the way. Promises, however empty or impossible to keep, have always been so reassuring. Especially when it comes to goodbyes. Or love.

I remember grade school friends who migrated overseas who promised to stay in touch. We sent each other snail mail a few times but it eventually just stopped. Then there were the people you thought would be your best friends for life—your ride-or-dies—and you pinky promise that you’ll all have kids at the same time and that your kids will also grow up to be friends (#truestory) and then you just grow apart—even before the second generation munchkins are even a possibility. Then there are flames with even grander promises that you just know won’t be kept, but somehow you manage to believe anyway.

I think women, as we get older, have a harder time trusting sweeping statements and seemingly too-good-to-be-true promises. We have been burned aplenty by promises both big and small. Even for the products we buy, we have a hard time believing the label. We order clothes online and they don’t always look like the photo. That’s why we really do our research on purchases especially when it comes to beauty. We look at reviews, we read blogs, we sample. It takes a lot for us to buy into promises.

One beauty brand that holds promises to a higher standard, with the tagline “Beautiful promises kept,” is Avon. Avon tells you exactly what you’re getting with each product and makes sure that the formulation delivers. If it’s moisturizing glossy lips that are promised, then it’s moisturized glossy lips that you’ll get. It has been a trusted brand since I was young and it still keeps its loyal following to this day.

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Clockwise from left: Ideal Oil Control Plus Dual Powder Foundation; Skin Goodness Moisturizing BB Cream; Eyeshadow Quad 5G in ; Perfectly Matte Lipstick in Red Supreme

I test-drove some of the makeup products of the Avon True Color line recently and I can say that they still deliver. I especially like the Perfectly Matte Lipstick in Red Supreme, because unlike other tubes of matte lipstick, it gives off a good matte color pay without drying your lips. I love the Glazewear Lip Gloss in Mauve Movement. It was pretty sheer at first, but after applying a few coats the sheen was on point. It works even better on top of the Perfectly Matte Lipstick in Wild Cherry.

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Clockwise: The Glazewear Lip Gloss in Mauve Movement; The Eyeshadow Quad 5G in ; Perfectly Matte Lipstick in Wild Cherry; Luminous Blush

The Avon True Color Eyeshadow Quad 5G is infused with real gold and it always feels luxurious to know you’re playing with the highly-coveted mineral. (The same can be said of the 24K Gold Lipstick that gives a shimmery sheen, as expected.) The base I used is the Skin Goodness Moisturizing BB Cream topped with the Ideal Oil Control Plus Dual Powder Foundation. The BB cream alone is enough to give good coverage, but since I prefer a matte finish for the red lipped-look, I dusted on the powder. The products are effortless and easy to use. They last. And, more importantly, they do what they say they’ll do.

I know that in life some promises are meant to be kept, while some are meant to be broken. That’s just the way it is. But when it comes to makeup, I don’t compromise. And neither should you.

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Visit http://avonshop.ph/makeup/avon-true-color.html for more information 

Danilo.

The quintessential white dress speaks volumes.

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Deciding what to write about on posts on this blog isn’t always easy. Most of the time my ideas have been exhausted on articles, tweets, and random tirades on Telegram. Not that I think the blog doesn’t deserve great content — it’s just getting harder and harder to talk about a singular dress, such as this.

Ah, but the quintessential white dress. That’s a subject even fashion blog-snobs would be willing to throw their two cents in. Isn’t it funny how an item so simple can symbolize so much? Can unite people in excitement via stacks of bridal magazines, or a fitting room with champagne, and, ultimately, with a chorus of oohs and aahs when the dream is made into reality and a woman—in her perfect dress—walks down the aisle?

The beauty of a white dress transcends mere fashion, no? It captures love, the thrill of a wedding, the sanctity of a marriage; An immortalization of a serendipitous moment by way of sheer fabric. No one item of clothing can boast the same. Isn’t it also impressive how, conversely, a white dress can bring together those suffering from sorrow as a nod to the agony, an ode to the grief and the difficulty of letting go? It is, after all, also the mourner’s choice symbolising an emotion so pure yet laced with so much pain.

I didn’t buy this dress for these specific reasons, obviously. I happened to like it and it happened to be on sale. But incidentally, the past couple weeks have been eventful— a good friend got hitched to her boyfriend of 9 years, while a dear, dear friend, mentor, and former professor passed away. Again, coincidentally, their nicknames are the same. One celebrated a new chapter in her life, the other’s was celebrated in its entirety.

I’ve cried for both. Out of happiness for a friend who is finally married to the man of her dreams. My only regret that day was not bringing enough tissue to last a row of ladies so deeply involved in her life that even before she showed up on the aisle they (and by that I mean we) were already in tears. I’ve also wept for a friend’s demise—so sudden, taking everyone by surprise, breaking hearts in his wake.

Dan, the newlywed, was also a student of the late Danilo, the fashion professor and the most talented illustrator I have ever come across. Isn’t it also interesting to note that he taught us about dresses— how to render them, how to bring ideas into fruition, how to put pen to paper, and translate dreams into visions of art? He’s planted many a seed of inspiration and beauty in the lives of so many people; He has fanned fire’s dying embers and kept dreams alive; He has watched students bloom into the designers and creators they were always meant to be. He is deeply missed.

Sir Dan, my white dress is for you. But this white dress isn’t mourner’s regalia. It’s a reminder of a blank canvas—one you were always inviting us to create on. You’ve always believed in the capacity of people to commit to beauty and were more than generous in sharing your talent with us. Now, more than ever, all blank canvasses will be painted on with your direction in mind—always guiding; Your gentle voice always encouraging.

All your friends and all of your students will create with you in mind. And you will live on in the most beautiful of things—paintings, art, words, fashion. And isn’t that just the highest honour?

Salamat, Sir Dan. 

 

Gait of a Lady | Boucheron Quatre

Add a pep in your step by way of scent.

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Happy 2017, folks! Another year, another welcome post.

Everyone ushered in the new year with such excitement—urgency, almost. I think we can all agree that 2016 was universally awful. No need to enumerate why. The horrific events that transpired, sometimes with equally horrific faces, are, unfortunately, forever etched in our memories.

But if I may, personally, 2016 wasn’t so bad. I took a publishing course in the UK, met amazing people I plan on keeping in my life, had a few amazing trips, took more vacation time than what was probably allowed, thoroughly enjoyed my job, and was published pretty often so I’m extremely grateful for the year that was.

Since I’m a sucker for “Life Planning” and “Goal Setting” or any lame excuse to buy a new set of notebooks, every year I try to come up with a word—an overarching theme for my year (or life). Last year’s was “soar”. I guess I didn’t specify exactly what I had in mind but I did do some literal soaring and for that I am not mad. I’ve been trying to rack my brain for the perfect word for 2017. My working theme is “reinvention” which, by the way, is not an iteration of the trite “New Year, New Me” adage. Just a recalibration. Alyssa 2.0. Or The Late Twenties Version.

Reinvention can encompass multiple things. A new look, outlook, job—country, even. My career and geographical considerations are something I am still figuring out so unless you want to discuss at length what I need to do with my life, let’s stick to sartorial discourse here. Style-wise, I got bangs (which you can’t see in the photos because they were decided rather spontaneously post the shoot). I also bought new makeup and beauty products. Deciding to invest in skin care is worth it, I hear. My ROI can be publicly accessed and observed. Peruse (or dissect) photos as you wish. And my last bit of news in the beauty department is that I switched fragrances.

I got the Boucheron Quatre a couple of months ago but only started to spritz it obsessively recently. The Parisian brand equates to luxury and the perfume captures the brand’s essence, pun intended. The fragrance, inspired by the Maison’s iconic ring, is an elegant floral fruity blend. A lot of times fruity doesn’t necessarily feel grown-up—it’s kind of reminiscent of a tween’s first choice promptly after discovering her mother’s perfume cabinet. I actually remembering discovering my grandmother’s perfume cabinet and wanting to be in on the grown-up lady fun, you know, minus the cough-inducing spritzes. The olfactory biases of an 11-year old are very much geared towards the scent of fried chicken and newly-opened Barbie boxes. The Quatre, on the other hand, is for the contemporary woman. The scent is a subtle combination of chic and cool brought about by the mixture of bitter orange, jasmine, and just the right kick of golden woods for a woody undertone.

I know people say heels make the woman. Or something like it, I’m lazy to Google. But I do know that more than heels, spritzes of the perfect fragrance prompt the gait of a lady.

Statistically speaking, correlation doesn’t necessarily imply causation but trust me when I say the spritz adds a pep in the step. And this specific spritz induces a ladylike strut.

The Boucheront Quatre can be purchased at Art of Scent stores in Shangri-la Plaza and Resorts World Manila.

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There’s A New Girl in Town | Ever New

We have a new store to go to.

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I was an early bird
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A rack of bodysuits

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Vina, Tracy, Aisa, myself and Tina

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Thanks to my lack of imagination (or just the impeccable styling skills or Ever New’s Visual Merchandiser) I bought the exact look on the left.

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Legitimately wanted to (also) snag the bolero and satin red clutch
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With Melissa and Mona
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Ah, and the obligatory blogger photo

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I still distinctly remember the party rush. Whether it’s a birthday (my own, for the most part), the holidays, or random big events I’ve had to attend, they almost always usually entailed frantically searching store after store for the perfect dress (or dresses on those years I felt like a social butterfly). And like a true girl scout, I’ve always had a fail-safe routine. I’d shop in the middle of the year at stores that offer insane discounts (yes, clearance too) to have a bunch of dresses ready for the rest of my fiscal (slash sartorial) year. Most of the time this preparedness served me well. Still, there’d be a few surprises here and there that almost always resulted in hysteria.

For instance, just this June I bought three long gowns for a myriad of weddings I was supposed to attend. Of course, I missed all of them. Leave it up to me to miss big events because of last minute flight changes. So now I have three beautiful spare dresses sitting in my closet waiting to be used. As luck would so devilishly have it, the one wedding I am going to be able to attend this year has a dress code so particular I am again at a loss for what to wear – the dresses at my disposal rendered useless and untouched.

Since said wedding is in two weeks, and an impending flight even closer, I have really had to strategize the trip and its subsequent garments. (I’m in desperate need of warm, heat-inducing clothes, but that’s a different story). In times of sartorial despair, I look to trusted institutions that, time and again, deliver. One of these is Ever New.

Ever New has always been one of those stores I used to gloss over mentally taking note of the items I’d buy should any fancy occasion invite come my way. The Australian brand has always been a go-to for parties with their selection of luxe fabrics and fancier silhouettes. I was extremely in luck that Ever New was launching another branch in SM Aura and was throwing a launch party for some guests just in time for my upcoming fancy event. I came in ready to look at dresses and actually stormed straight to the party rack but, instead, was kind of blindsided by the rest of the selection. What I saw was a new and improved Ever New. While the brand used to be geared towards outfits for special occasions, the brand has now perfectly melded trendy pieces in its collection now offering bodysuits, denims, and – wait for it – sneakers! Even the dressier pieces are updated with modern silhouettes and cuts. Think: less prom, more Gigi Hadid hosting the AMAs.

Everybody – bloggers, media, friends of the brand – was bonding over the clothes. At one point the line to the dressing room got extremely long. Good thing I was there early and got to monopolize the dressing room and take my sweet time which was great because I’m a really slow shopper. It doesn’t help that I’m a Gemini and the deciding alone doubles the shopping time. My personal favorites were the bodysuits, the satin clutches, the pink mules, the embroidered boleros (which I would’ve gotten had I not been so drawn to about twenty-thousand other things), and the gold pleated skirt, which thankfully I did end up leaving with. I kid you not, by the end of the day stocks were running low. That skirt was a hit, I’m glad I snagged my size before others did. My competitiveness comes in handy in the smallest (but most relevant) of ways.

Little Black Dress | Smart PayMaya

I think a trip to your favorite online shopping destination is in order.

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Over the weekend, I ordered a little black dress for a date.

Okay, not just! For multiple reasons actually. I was thinking it’s a conservative enough option for a work event, or a networking soirée (not that I attend those- I’m awkward), for a night at the theatre, for working at a MAC store (they’re always in black), for joining a witch coven while still being chic, or for bumping into the love of my life, Mark Ruffalo, while looking remotely cute. Okay, so not all of those are likely (though which ones aren’t I won’t tell). Clue: my actual, real-life, non-Hollywood S.O. did, in fact, bump into Mark Ruffalo. So in terms of plausibility the Bruce Banner entry is pretty high up my list.

My point is, I exhaust all possible options of usability, imagined or otherwise, before I buy. Never mind that an LBD is a classic and every woman should own at least one. I think given my brain fart just now you already know that I love to shop and will find any excuse to justify a purchase. This blog was created for a reason – to cover up an alarming, debilitating vice.

Seriously though, any fashion girl at least scouts or “window shops” the latest trends and items, while a smart girl is always on the lookout for deals and irresistible, no-need-to-justify bargains. I’d like to think I’m both. And I’m guessing you are too.

But not all purchases are made in brick and mortar stores. Online shopping is even more seductive, and rightly so. It is so easy. I still remember when Zalora, an e-commerce company in the Philippines, launched a few years ago. I’ve ordered several times from them since. I also love shop online in the US and have it delivered to MI. Deliveries usually signal my imminent arrival, as I tend to arrive shortly after they do. I’m a sucker for discounts and clearances. Labor Day sales are my absolute favourite. There’s no shame in that.

Now, while I typically use credit cards to pay for items purchased internationally, I tend to shy away from doing the same in Manila. If there’s a Cash on Delivery option, I wouldn’t think twice about using that. I guess I just feel like the e-commerce biz here is relatively young compared to other countries and I’m paranoid about security. Smart Communications, my preferred network, partnered with PayMaya recently, which is a mobile payment app that gives subscribers a virtual prepaid MasterCard with the option to also get a physical card. So the idea is to load any amount to your card, reload whenever you want, have people who also have the app transfer money to you in a few digital clicks, and you have a MasterCard for perusal. I love it because it lessens the security risk by a mile, since there are no extra funds that can be conned into oblivion. People who typically have a hard time getting credit cards (or aren’t allowed to) like students, young ones, and people like the girl from Confessions of a Shopaholic who have serious swiping problems, will finally have an option to pay with some other mode of payment other than cash, especially online when cash payments aren’t an option. The collaboration with Smart is even better because it adds a whole other dimension to the slew of benefits already intrinsically cool about the app including a 10% discount on Smart prepaid loads and exclusive perks and discounts (wait for it). You can also pay bills, but that’s really not as exciting as this next bit of news.

Until December 31, 2016,  you can get PHP400 off any purchase to Zalora with the code SMARTPAY. Just plug that in upon checkout and it’ll feel a lot like Christmas. Get the app via the App Store or Google Play, get shopping, and magically get discounts off your purchases. ‘Tis the season to be jolly, after all. And I can’t think of a better way to imbibe good cheer than by getting gifts delivered straight to my door. Especially those handpicked by me, for me.

For more information on even more perks and exclusive treats, visit smart.com.ph/smartpaymaya.