Caftan, Josie Natori in Rustans; gold platforms, Santoni/Rubelli from Santoni in Milan.

Cecil Ravelas is a walking, talking, breathing version of an artwork one might find in a very stylish shop…at least that’s what I thought when I met her at Lagun Hotel (which she interior designed) in El Nido during a Smile Magazine shoot last October. She had on a shapeless mustard dress in soft linen and major statement earrings to offset the plain garment and looked particularly eye-catching, immediately giving off that fashuuuun vibe well-dressed individuals have, however simple their outfits may be. She had It and seemed like a really nice lady, so naturally I was intrigued and wanted to know more. Once I started to engage with Cecil, I found it hard to stop exchanging views, both creative and otherwise. She’s someone who puts you immediately at ease, whatever topic you choose to tackle; in our case it was design, fashion, food, travel and shopping (while travelling)! Cecil is funny, intelligent, generous with her time, advice and a shopaholic—probably my favorite personality combination; seeing a small part of her closet got me ooooing and ahhhing at the merch, mostly bought in their countries of origin for a fraction of the price compared to Manila. This also told me she is a practical person who happens to love nice things. Her design aesthetic—as seen here at the S.C. Vizcarra and Beautiqua shop in Shangri-La Plaza mall—is just as intriguing, inventive and original as she is. I asked how her staff did the beehive-like design of the Beautiqua display (inspired by the chemical structure symbol of Hyalauronic acid, the shared ingredient of the skincare products that promises young-looking skin) from cut wood and she just replied with a laugh na “na-stress sila.”  Only a beautiful mind can think of such a design: an accessible work of art worthy of exhibit.

More of this brilliant designer and stellar human being below.

What she does  Interior Designer

Personal style   Depends on my mood. My constant is really more androgynous, modern minimalist, architectural, utilitarian, comfortable.

On appearance and why it matters  How you look sets the mood anywhere you go. I always tell my staff to dress well even when going to job sites. If you look nice, then you have better chances of being heard, you feel good and you spread cheer to those around you. People feel good and are more attentive when they see you well dressed.

Her days be like  Hectic! Now I start my day with my trainer. I am trying to do regular exercise to become more healthy; then my busy day begins with me shuttling  between client meetings,  job site visits then office work. In the evening, I try to join friends for dinner or just have a few glasses of wine with them or sometimes just more dinner meetings for me. In between, I manage to attend some events. Otherwise, I am in a plane off to a site for ocular or a factory visit. Saturday morning I swim with my coach & my high school friends and then do salon or lunch then attend learning workshops. Sunday is my lounging and quiet day. For leisure I travel to eat, take photos, discover new places & meet new friends.

Favorite designers and shopping haunts  Atsuro Tatsuyama, Issey Miyake, Marimekko, Christian Dior, Valentino, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen.

I have very limited options in Manila because of sizing so I shop when I travel. Most of my shopping I do outside when I travel to Hong Kong, Milan or London—it’s the cities I visit regularly. COS is my staple then a few pieces from Atsuro Tatsuyama, 45R, Issey,  Marimekko. In Milan, there are nice local shops I go to – 120% Lino, Liviana Conti and then there’s La Rinascente!

Top 5 closet staples Shoes, Shoes & Shoes! My Repetto & Gucci ballet flats, Adidas sneakers and Doc Martens. My Dior Studded  denim coat, Harlan & Holden cabin dress, scarves and bags!

Celebrity crush Angelina Jolie

Online surfing Dezeen, Design Milk, Dior, Valentino

Reading material Architectural digest, Interior Design magazines, Vogue

Style evolution I now go for comfort, less detail; more minimal but structural, more particular in pieces. I am still attracted to unique pieces. When I was younger and smaller I can wear anything—I had an ethnic phase, lacy, ruffly phase, jeans & shirt phase, mini skirts, sheer dresses, corsets–name it and I have it! I guess I wore it all, haha! Now I am more selective and comfort is non-negotiable.

Current uniform color black is my uniform! It’s easy to dress up and dress down so a black dress is my uniform paired with red bags or shoes.

The beautiful all-wood design up close!

Her interesting accessories complement this S.C. Vizcarra bag perfectly.

Daily uniform: Mint Design dress, Assembly; shoes, United Nude in London; red cuff & skull ring by Arnel Papa.

Shoes, United Nude in London; red cuff & skull ring by Arnel Papa; woven bag by SC Vizcarra.

Dress, Issey Miyake from a Corso Como store in Milan; black heels from Hermes in Milan.

Patent Mary Jane flats, Gucci.

Another match made in fashion heaven.

Dress, Marimekko Hong Kong; orange bangle from United Nude London; flats, Gucci.

More quirky bags from S.C. Vizcarra

Pinstripe navy dress, 45R Harbour City, Hong Kong; studded sneakers Christian Dior Milan; earrings by Adante Leyesa.





Jumpsuit, Offbeat Alley; sandals, Call It Spring.

The following words come to mind when you meet Lucien Villarruz in person for the first time: angelic to describe her gorgeous features, funny to describe how she doesn’t take herself too seriously, unaffected to describe how she doesn’t obsess about said angelic features and easygoing to describe her relaxed demeanor, despite how many times her son Liam interrupts the shoot, asking for snacks or showing off his toys. We didn’t mind, he is as cute as can be and like any toddler, will reward you with a smile if he feels like it. Creativity is in Luci’s blood, being the daughter of renowned artist Lao Lianben and evident in her childrenswear and accessories business Little Luli, of which the workshop is just on the 2nd floor of her very cool industrial and minimalist home. Monica, my friend/photographer and I found her work space extremely serene and conducive for the creative juices to flow freely, so much so that we wanted to move in! Luci’s home, a lot like her personality, is filled with light and airy space to let the good vibes in; fashion-wise, she applies the same philosophy opting for simple pieces that she can easily grab when she’s on mom and girl boss duty, spiced up with accessories from her go-to local brands. Lately, Luci has been in a couple of TVCs— about time in my opinion—playing mom roles and rocking it each and every time. Keep your eyes peeled on this superwoman, I predict great things to come her way.

Photos by Big Love Photography

What she does Business owner, SPED teacher, TVC model

Personal style I’m drawn to minimalist pieces with interesting cuts, neutral colors, plain pieces that I could easily wear and pair.

Her days be like Weekdays I take care of the kids—bring them to school, do Little Luli work like sourcing fabrics, creating designs, managing orders etc., I also attend castings if schedule permits. Weekends we usually spend it with my parents/in-laws or just stay at home with my family. Hobbies? Hmmm… I like to try new recipes and cook for my family.

Favorite designers and shopping haunts I always try to support local brands like Araw the line, Wear Anika, Shop Myka Limchoc, Posh Pocket Shoes, Renegade Folk, Cora and Bear, HeyJow, Aranaz, Gabbie Sarenas, Harlan and Holden because locally, we really make beautiful and quality products. I also take advantage of the convenience of online shopping and one of the online shops that I like is Offbeat Alley. Other brands that I am loving are Zara, Uniqlo and Stradivarius.

Top 5 closet staples Jeans, basic tank top, a dress with pockets, slouchy sweater top, printed top

Celebrity crush Maybe Emma Stone? Hahaha because I find her face interesting, it shows so much expression and character and I love her freckles.

Online surfing I just usually visit random websites about fashion, interior, business—nothing in particular actually, usually for research and inspiration; whatever catches interest from social media then I try to go to their websites to check it out.

Reading material Before I used to read a lot of magazines like Preview, Cosmo, Metro, InStyle… mostly fashion magazines but now, I don’t read magazines as much because its either I don’t have time or I usually just browse the web. I do like browsing books about interior though when there is downtime.

Current uniform My style has definitely evolved because I wear lesser prints and more of solid and plain colored pieces now; not so much of the trendy cuts but more of classic and minimalist cuts that have longevity. When I wear prints it’s usually the classic ones like stripes or polka dots. There are days that I have my go-to outfits because I don’t have much time to think about what I’m going to wear. So usually, I wear these uniforms because I’m more or less sure that I look at least decent enough to go out; that would be a pair of slim fit jeans, tank top, and flat sandals.

On appearance and why it matters For me its more of feeling good that’s important. If you feel good about yourself regardless what your personal style is then you will feel confident, contented and happy.

One of son Liam’s many cameos, in his PJ’s nonetheless!

Her shoe collection comprised of basics she can pair with anything.

Top, Zara; skirt, Offbeat Alley; necklaces, HeyJow; sandals, Cora & Bear.

Top, The Inspiration Seekers; skirt, BCBG; mules, Kultura.

Liam’s extensive dinosaur collection.

Top, Offbeat Alley.

Top and shorts, Offbeat Alley; sandals, Posh Pocket Shoes.

Her necklace collection from HeyJow.

Top and Jeans, Zara; sandals, Posh Pocket Shoes.

Sweet, feminine designs make up her brand Little Luli.

Fresh batch of bags for little ladies.

Set, Offbeat Alley; earrings, Panopio Jewelry; shoes, Nike.







Rita Nazareno in her signature look: relaxed button down polo and loose pants (that looks like a skirt) always paired with interesting footwear. Her haircut isn’t cookie-cutter either, and is just as otherworldly as her creations.

I’ve been a big fan of designer Rita Nazareno and her Zacarias 1925 bags ever since I saw my stylish (and the real Stylist of Sorts, IMO!) friend Luis Espiritu carry one in an IG post a few years back. Basket bags were having a major moment and Luis’ version was nothing I have seen before; it was so unique, chic and more of a work of art than just a bag. I was smitten at first sight. Fast-forward to 2018 and I finally set foot at The Alley in Karrivin in Pasong Tamo (I know, travesty right?) and saw the collection in person at Aphro and was blown away with the ingenuity, workmanship and wit that came with the very conversation-sparking designs. Thanks to my friend Clarisse and unofficial The Alley date, I got to view the latest collection and meet the designer herself as well as loyal customers and got a first-hand account on how she comes up with the most innovative bag designs inspired by mundane, everyday things. It was absolute magic!

Rita recently won a Katha Award for Best Product for Fashion recently but she doesn’t mention it, I had to do a bit of research to discover that fact. An impressive accolade that does not seem to consume or faze her; I’m assuming it’s because she would rather focus on her craft, one where she’s obviously having a ton of fun. Rita’s background was in media, having worked in the US, first as Senior Producer for FOX in Los Angeles, then as Creative Services Director in the NBC station in Houston, Texas for many years. Zacarias 1925 is “more of a family ties passion,” in her words, that she began designing for in 2010 after her stint abroad. “My work is very different from my mom’s who was very traditional. I consider my designs a lot more contemporary  with reference to things that interest me: architecture, contemporary art, cinema.” The 2019 collection is her 8th 0r 10th one, she has lost track. “I was inspired by the vintage portable TV sets from the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s as well as the H1 hi-way in Hawaii and our very own MMDA barriers along EDSA.” Like a true artist, she seeks inspiration everywhere and in everything. All the pieces are still made by the artisans from her Lola’s shop in Roxas Blvd. in limited quantities, so owning one is truly a rarity and can be passed on as heirloom pieces, keeping the heritage alive.

I ask Rita what’s next and she replies, “I’m flying to the States tomorrow!” Business or pleasure I ask? “For vacation!,” she laughs. Guess we’ll just have to watch out for her next moves come the new year. In the meantime, you can feast your eyes on her most recent collection at Aphro located at The Alley at Karrivin 2316 Chino Roces Ave. Makati. Don’t be late in the game like me, head over there stat!

Her whimsical MMDA clutch that mimics the orange shade of the barriers we see in EDSA.

There is a subtle extension to the handle to make it easy to clutch. A thoughtful detail that’s miniscule but definitely useful, as only women would know.

The row of rainbow boxes are inspired by Yugoslavian cabins in a similar shape.

The long clutches are smaller versions of the barriers at H1, a hi-way in Hawaii.

My friend Clarisse who prompted me to join her at the collection launch and is my unofficial The Alley date.

These vintage TV inspired bags have a front slot for cell phones, pens, glasses or anything else that might fit for easy access.

A seemingly unassuming brown long clutch bears a pleasant surprise…

Open it and a divider is exposed right in the middle to keep everything organized! How innovative is that! The clutch is awfully roomy, too.

A closer look at the H1 clutch.

Cher, Aphro’s shop manager, models another vintage TV themed bag.

These “rock” clutches are inspired by the landscape in Sedona, Arizona.

Artist Corina Borromeo was there to answer inquiries and poses in front of her two works displayed at the store. That’s “Eugene” on the left and “Francine” on the right.

A chair inspired by Victor Vasarely, a Hungarian-French artist and leader of the op art movement as well as the traditional Inabel pattern from Ilocos. Merging of two great design minds! To the right is a cornucopia cone, said to bring luck to the home when placed by the entrance.

Designer Cecile Ravelas, who also designed the SC Vizcarra shop in Shangri-La Mall toting a clutch she purchased right after this shot was taken. Cecile is also the talent behind Lagun hotel’s sleek interiors (in El Nido Palawan)