SLAYING IN SEQUINS AND FISHNETS “I hardly ever do a head to toe look but this sweatshirt, skirt and lacy tights combo were all from Forever 21, found during their holiday sale in the dying days of 2015!”

It was inevitable the subject about that movie would come up the day I came over for the shoot.

“How they depict fashion editors in The Devil Wears Wears Prada is simply not true!”, Leah argues in between outfits as we discuss how in the controversial film, the magazine editors are portrayed as cold-hearted, fashion obsessed mannequins who worship the Queen Bee, when she is the epitome of a down-to-earth, cheerful chick who happens to love fashion and getting all dolled up. Leah was part of the original Preview team back in the late nineties. I met her in the mid 2000s at a cruise and immediately warmed up to her bubbly personality. She is nothing like the women in the movie; I was pleasantly surprised and immediately enamoured. Leah is fearless in her sartorial choices, to say the least. She wears what she wants, when she wants to, no apologies to anyone who might question or take a second look. In fact, she is so confident that it made me realize that I should be more accepting of and love my imperfections because it made me, me. A friend who knew Leah said she is really smart (she loves to read, very witty and is learning French); I chipped in that she also has superb fashion sense. Even my husband who happened to glance at her photos thought so. Such a refreshing thing to discover that fashion people can be kind and intelligent while still be updated and enthusiastic about the Kardashians’ shenanigans. Stereotypes aren’t always what they seem to be. Find out more below.

What she does Writer, stylist, fashion lover

Personal style My personal style is designed ease: I don’t like anything too complicated or gimmicky, but I do like to put some thought into what I wear.

Her days be like I can spend some days leisurely, reading my favorite books and magazines or catching up with friends; or it can be on a frenetic group shoot, which I still totally loooove! Weekends are usually with my family, and if I’m lucky, there will be a workation, or a chance to see an amazing place that will combine work and fun. I love boxing, and try to squeeze in some rounds when I can. I wouldn’t call it a hobby, but I also volunteer to play and sing with some children in an orphanage, to improve their social and motor skills to prepare them for adoption.

Favorite designers and shopping haunts I love the expression, “shop your closet!’  I often raid my mom’s “archives” because she was so good at keeping her stuff. After that anything goes!  My go-to online shops are Christiana Manila and Renegade Folk. Their visions and philosophy merge so closely with mine: that style doesn’t have to be complicated or overly expensive, and they keep their production local. I love pop-ups by Cura V and Nest and I will also go deep into the recesses of SM and Landmark for cute things.

Top 5 closet staples Currently, it’s an almost undefinable shade of blue Christiana Manila blouse with oversized sleeves; Gap white jeans (am obsessed with white jeans now, as is Maria Grazia Chiuri of Dior); a resurrected pair of embellished Miu Miu aqua pumps (a stranger told me once while I was wearing them that I must have been Marie Antoinette in a past life); a vintage Bottega Veneta bucket bag which is indestructible but made of the softest, lightest leather; and a pair of golden pearl drop earrings.

Celebrity crush It’s a toss-up between Stella Tennant and Lily Aldridge. Well, Grace Kelly embodies glacial perfection, but at the same time, the fact that she was a loving and loyal wife and mother and devout Catholic makes me want to be the highest and best version of myself.  Stella and Lily are angular and sculptural but are innately mysterious.

Reading material Kinfolk, Monocle, Elle Decor, Frame, Suitcase, The Gentlewoman, Vogue UK

Online surfing I have a strange addiction to British tabloids so confession time: I read the Daily Mail! But I also read guardian.co.uk and independent.com; maybe it has something to do with being an English major, I miss the quintessentially English turns of phrase. Then Spot.ph and Preview.ph, vogue.co.uk, garancedore.com, habituallychic, and the decor blogs, belgianpearls.com and greigedesign.

Style evolution As a writer, I do some research on the people I will be interviewing and dress accordingly. If they are more formal and established, I will be more traditionally dressed. If they are casual and easy, I will be more relaxed. As a rule, if I’m doing an interiors story, I wear more comfortable shoes, so that I can really go around and get a feel of the space and write more accurately about it. Some of my jewelry, I consider as talismans that bring me strength and luck so I like to wear sentimental pieces when doing interviews. Am wearing more sporty pieces like joggers and sweatshirt-inspired tops, and wearing suits much less. After finally succumbing to the trainers movement, I am making more of an effort to wear heels again!

Current uniform It’s really hard for me to have a strict uniform since my days vary so much. What usually happens is that I have on rotation a few favorites: a black dress that can go day to night; jeans and a more dressy top; a t-shirt and cardigan combo and a pencil skirt; and something that is quite trendy and whimsical just to throw things off.


It’s all about texture. Love how these pieces complement each other so well.


JUL B. DIZON “frame” necklaces. “Jul herself told me that she had entered these designs in a Hong Kong design contest and won. I was just starting out in my career but I just fell in love with them. So I had to borrow money from my mom to buy them. When she found out they were Swarovski crystals and not diamonds or even “real” gems, she balked and asked, “You got into debt and they’re not even real?” But so worth my blood sweat and tears!”




Necklace found in a shop for Indian bridal jewelry in the souk on La Corniche in the old city of Muscat in Oman.


PRINTS PLEASE Dress by Eric de los Santos. Shoes by Janylin, inspired by Louis Vuitton, circa 2011.


Pop-up puppet show in a Christian Lacroix travel journal, a present from sister-in-law Nina Daza Puyat, found in London.



Childhood cross stitch samplers (made in grade school), her lolo’s campaign scarf from his failed vice presidential run, and more Christian Lacroix journals, both presents.


SPORTING IT White mesh bomber by Kashieca, customized tee by Bench, Gap jeans, Nike trainers and Sunnies Specs.



Extreme left and right: her mom’s vintage scarves; 2nd from the left, silk scarf from the now defunct Takashimaya on 5th Ave; 3rd from the left, Jim Thompson silk scarf from Chang Mai. “This has tremendous sentimental value because my sister Giselle bought it for me when she competed in the SEA Games and she HATES shopping, so it was touching that she would get me something so quintessentially Thai, and I had never been to Thailand at that time.”



Pearl necklace with giant jade links by Bianca Santos Tambunting for her line Disenyo. Leah added the ribbons channeling Alber Elbaz for Lanvin.


SUITING UP “Three piece polka dot pantsuit by Joey Samson. Also a piece with so many memories! I always loved the idea of a polka dot pantsuit and asked Joey to make me one, and then we both forgot about it. When I finally remembered to pick it up, it was time for the 2015 Preview ball, and I wanted something special to wear to the occasion. Just as well, because as a surprise, they asked me up on the stage! That year, the theme of the Philippine Fashion Ball was menswear, also as a tribute to Joey who presented a beautiful beautiful collection. So both times, I was so happy to wear this suit, not just because it’s super comfortable but also because I love Joey and believe so much in his talent.”



GOING GRAPHIC H&M X KENZO tiger print blouse, Christiana Manila “Ursula” neoprene top, Gap trousers and Janylin pumps.


Vintage 70s necklace from her mom.



Forever 21 floral necklace. “When Forever 21 first opened in 2010, I went on a spree with my nieces and fell in love with this. Everyone had it! It’s aging pretty well for something fast fashion.”


WRITER’S UNIFORM Christiana Manila wrap top, H&M cargo pants, and Miu Miu embellished pumps.





Antique coins and pearl necklace designed by her aunt Beng Fores and executed by Benjo Bautista of El Capricho.


JOGGER JAMS Rhett Eala batwing top, Uniqlo sweats.




Kashieca perspex and crystal necklace. “I had seen something similar done by J Crew and I find Jenna Lyons very inspiring!”


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