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)




H&M pajama top, Gap jeans, Zarah juan slip-on sandals.

“You have a really good bum!”, I tell Ros Juan when I ask her to turn around for a shot of her Viña Romero top that had an interesting back design, an inverted V with faux buttons that was actually quite flattering and highlighted her shapely behind even more. “Thanks to my trainer,” she quips, followed by an infectious laugh that was a constant the whole time we were shooting. I met Ros virtually before we saw each other in person when she sent me a private message on IG about possibly doing a collab at her hipper-than-hip coffee shop Commune in Poblacion. We eventually met in her cafe and planned my SOS Mix It workshop and instantly hit it off. We became friends and the idea to feature her came to me when I noticed her distinct style starting with her hair color, that as of press time, is a beautiful shade of deep purple. It reminded me of my bridal entourage motif and I loved it.

The confidence in how Ros carries herself and her sartorial choices are just some of the qualities that struck me the most. Usually, curvy girls I work with or meet prefer to hide behind oversized garments to conceal their “folds”, which to be honest, are sometimes non-existent, negligible even. Such isn’t the case for this self-assured lady. Ros knows how to dress for her body type, highlighting her assets with carefully thought-of choices, doesn’t shy away from print or color, enjoys bright and exotic baubles and shoes. In fact, the way she styles herself makes her appear evenly proportioned and sleek; a formula that more curvy women should assimilate. It comes with self-love, acceptance and a healthy dose of “I don’t give a damn, I’ll wear what I want and rock it” attitude.

She is quick-witted, hilarious and loves to talk about everything under the sun, has a ton of great ideas and doesn’t take herself too seriously. When I ask her to contort her body to get the best shot, she gamely poses with exaggeration, making me crack up until my insides hurt. Needless to say, I left Commune with a full tummy and great photographs that I hope speaks to women of different shapes and sizes to celebrate their bodies the way Ros does because not much else radiates more than a woman who is comfortable in her own skin.

Commune is located at 36 Polaris st. Makati, Metro Manila. 

What she does Chief Extractor of Coffee at Commune and Social Media Strategist

Personal style Classic with a punch. I like to stick to classic pieces then I incorporate something unique, crazy or unexpected, sometimes a statement piece, sometimes nice little details (fabric patterns, stitches here and there, unusual button placement, etc)

Style Evolution I now pay more attention to quality. I have also learned more about fabrics so I am more conscious of my choices now. I’m willing to spend on quality pieces that will last me longer, like investment pieces. I guess that comes with age. I used to be all about bargains and was more drawn to trends. Nowadays, I challenge myself more with mix and matching stuff in my closet and try to come up with different combinations. I also wear jeans a lot but now, I have aded more variety to my bottoms. Meeting you has made me less scared of prints and patterns and mixing them all up. Whenever I shop with Pauline (Juan, who is her SIL) she pushes me to try the unexpected and see if it fits me…so the wildcard exercise was fun for me. She also told me to venture to the men’s section, which I love because I also enjoy androgynous dressing!

On appearance and why it matters Looking good to me means neat, put together, presentable…so that’s a 10/10. It doesn’t have to be instagrammable and “where’s the party?” levels at all times. It just has to be appropriate. Oh…and good fitting please! Like I said, no matter how chill or how lazy I am, I still put even the least bit of thought in what I’m wearing before I head out.

Her days be like Days always start with coffee! I’m a night owl so mornings need some caffeination. Commune is my second home. My office is above the cafe, I roam around the cafe, run events in our space and hold meetings in the cafe. I also entertain my friends in Commune and usually explore Poblacion after work.

Weekends can either be super chill or very packed. It can get pretty busy at the cafe especially when we have a lot of events lined up. Sundays are usually kept free for family lunch and some me time (read, sleep, play with my cats, Nail Spa, massage, church)

Favorite designers and shopping haunts I developed a Uniqlo habit a decade ago while I was living in Shanghai. There was a Uniqlo right smack in the middle of my route home and the constant sales called out to me. I’m still hooked and the collabs and special collections are my jam. U collection girl, through and through! Zara and H&M for more frivolous and trendy pieces. I like to shop local for unique pieces though. I noticed that in all my conferences abroad, other nationalities proudly wore their national garb like normal clothes and not as a “national costume.” All the Filipinos would be in corporate attire, myself included. So I have made it a conscious effort to incorporate local design into what I wear.  I went a bit crazy with all the accessories at Manila FAME. I’ve been working with young designers like Esme Palaganas, Seph Bagasao and Viña Romero for some of my pieces. I like having a nice top made every so often so that I have something I can dress up and down when an event comes up. I also love Zarah Juan, Rajo Laurel and a whole bunch of shoe brands!

I enjoy picking up pieces during my travels (from local artisans, like my brown strappy sandals from a Mexican shoemaker who was in the exhibition I went to or this woven wool scarf made by a community of women in Kyrgyzstan), mostly accessories and I have a thing for scarves too. I love COS and & Other Stories too.

Top 5 closet staples Pants, tops, scarves, earrings, rings

Celebrity crush In a super dream universe…Angelina Jolie. Because OMG…Angelina Jolie. Physical appearance. And a part of me loves her 90s grunge phase.

Stylewise…it would have to be those I follow in Instagram:

Garance Dore & @simplycyn for her use of color

When I grow up, my #TitaGoals are Carolina Herrera, Lola Androgynous and of course, Iris Apfel.
For celebs it’s Emma Watson and Gwen Stefani in casual clothes.

Online surfing Inc, Fast Company, Harvard Business Review

I love this blog called “Messy Nessy Chic” because I love old stuff and quirky history. Refinery 29, Masahable, Perfect Daily Grind…for fashion, it’s been instagram!

Reading material When I get the chance, I love InStyle and Vanity Fair. I was a Preview fan of course. Now, I like the coffee magazines like Standart and Drift.

Current uniform I wouldn’t really say I believe in having a uniform because I constantly get bored with my wardrobe and then I would periodically obsess over certain things like stripes or polka dots or all black everything then I’ll be like, ugh, am wearing too much black then I’ll suddenly get really crazy about color.

But I do believe in having “go to,” fool-proof, tried and tested pieces that you can always pull out for any occasion and you know it looks good on you. These pieces are mostly dark colored, for me, at least. My little black dresses, my versatile black tops, my black V neck knit top, my navy and black tailored shirts. When I can’t decide what to wear, or when I need to pack something for a just-in-case-a-fancy-dinner-comes-up kind of thing, or when I can’t afford to experiment (ex. TV interview), I have these go-to pieces that will never let me down. These should also travel well. Having versatile clothes in your suitcase is the key to packing for travel.

Viña Romero top @vina.romero on IG Uniqlo WOMEN SMART STYLE ANKLE LENGTH PANTS sandals from tiangge (@georlyshoes).

Their resident cat Mirage who is a real ham!

Uniqlo cotton top and linen pants, sandals from Mexico – there was a shoe making family in the exhibition in Puebla, Mexico. they let you fit the shoes and make necessary adjustments on the spot, woven bag with leather straps from Manila FAME.

Her collection of earrings bought locally and from her many travels.

Posing with her new baby, their very own roaster.

Viña Romero black top, Gap jeans, Risqué shoes (custom made by Tal de Guzman using Illonggo hablon), Christian Dior vintage clutch from her Mom and statement earrings from Manila FAME.

Zara fuchsia heels

Uniqlo polka dot dress, an Ines de la Fressange collab

My favorite souvenir tee from the airport in Perreira, Colombia, gap jeans (Gap has the best fit for my body type!), Risqué shoes and Bagasao round bag.

Uniqlo JW Anderson collb orange striped tee, Uniqlo Ines linen pants (with a corduroy pattern), Prada sling bag  and Puma sneakers.