I remember going into L’Indochine, the shop sisters-in-law Leona Laviña-Panutat and Char Panutat-Carlos owned in SM Aura a few years ago, drawn by the vibrant window display and rows of colorful trinkets that were visible by the entrance. I didn’t know them personally back then and I vividly remember Leona come up to me and chirp, “Welcome to L’Indochine!” I say chirped because she was so warm and welcoming while I shyly looked through the gorgeous merchandise. I had already known who she was then via her IG account and was a fan of her style. Truth was, I had spotted Leona at an event during my magazine days when I noticed her cool outfit: a striped breton shirt, statement necklace and khaki pants. Simple, relaxed and chic—much like Leona as I would later discover, when I cold texted her asking if I can feature her on the blog two years ago. We’ve been friends since.
Char is the complete opposite style-wise. She gravitates more towards classic pieces: crisp white shirts, slim black pants, diamond studs… plus a lust-worthy collection of designer shoes and bags. She recently launched a line of exquisite marble pieces called The Masonry (@themasonryph) with a friend, putting a fresh, new spin on home accessories via the luxurious stone. I especially love the black and white striped bookends and wished I had the space for them. One lucky lady went home with the pair at the raffle that commenced later in the afternoon. I had the pleasure of shooting both ladies earlier this year for the Joyeria feature and got to know their personal styles on a deeper level.
They closed L’Indochine’s doors over a year ago and focused on their kids and mom life. But like a moth to a flame, it’s hard to kick the fashion out of a fashion girl and sooner than later, that itch needed to be scratched. It was just a matter of time before the girls revived their brand, this time under their alias, The Inspiration Seekers. And seek inspiration they do, when they travel for one-of-a-kind finds to bring home and show to loyal followers already familiar with their signature aesthetic. Last August 1, the ladies launched their brand at Esencia Day Spa in BGC to friends and colleagues in fashion. Guests came for the shopping and got awesome massage treatments while sipping on sangria and small bites. I eagerly checked out the merchandise already swarming with girls perusing the racks and trying on the items when a black and white linen button down cover up caught my eye. Ever the enabler, Leona gets me a new stock and naturally, I go home with it. The pieces were an obvious reflection of the ladies’ respective sartorial identities: a lot of linen via wide leg pants, tunics, cover ups and tops perfect for our tropical climate. Leona tells me of the sourcing process, each piece illicited a resounding “yes” from the both parties, making it a sure purchase. Their instincts didn’t fail them, so much is already sold out.
It wouldn’t be the chic event it was without well-dressed ladies, and there were plenty! Old and new faces, all with very distinct personal styles were my natural subjects and although it was a challenge to shoot at a small space, I was determined to capture as much as I could all for the love.
Huge congratulations again L and Char! I can’t wait to see what new stuff you’ll offer next. Follow them on IG @shoptheinspirationseekers and get ready to fall hard.