Aimee Velasco

By Jon Verzosa

The Fashion Trilogy featuring Chris Jasler, Aimee Velasco and Luke Jickain

Part Two

Aimee Velasco, Stylist

Setting up an interview with stylist Aimee Velasco was an exasperating experience.  First of all, she is busy.  Second, you can only call her after 10 PM because that’s how busy she is and third, we are cousins so kindness mattered in our dealings with each other’s schedules but moreover, she is a busy, hard-working Virgo who can’t even update her Facebook status unless she is on a holiday (preferably outside the country) or asks funny, harebrained questions to her friends once in a blue moon.

Yes, Aimee Verzosa-Velasco is also a court jester, and her vernacular is both streetsmart and classic gas!

I got my luck one day when she finally agreed to have the interview over a series of emails and telephone calls way into the night.  With that, I got what I wanted to feature her and made her a part of The Fashion Trilogy along with mystifying designer Chris Jasler and ramp/print/TVC model and actor Luke Jickain.  It is so tongue in cheek that we can spend coffee times together over daft conversations on boys and travels – again, the hazards of being relatives – but can’t sit down to formalize an interview.  Some of the things written herein are also citations of our coffee dates in the last couple of weeks.

“I’ve never felt so stressed out!” 28 year old Aimee Velasco said, mimicking a Soho drag queen with her hand gestures and hair-throwing.  “Everyone would think that being a stylist is so glittering when in fact, during the day, you’d be literally eating glitters for lunch from all that running around not to mention forgetting time zones especially in the course of a whopping photo shoot where everyone is either late or making last-minute modifications just to get things right.  Nakakaloka!” she screeched, hand-ironing her pleated Dolce and Gabanna skirt.

“Tell me about it!”  I asked.

“Like I said, it is a big myth when people think it’s so glamorous and easy like picking up clothes from the closet rack but there’s a lot of hard work involved in creating a certain “look”.  Also there is a lot of research and spadework.  You always have to consider such factors as; the target market for this shoot, the role of a particular celebrity portrayed in this movie and a lot of image perception that should personify a look and an attitude. There’s research, pull outs, finding suppliers, etc. There’re a lot of stylists out there and you ought to be really original.” Aimee quipped.

A stylist is someone who selects the clothing for published editorial features, music videos, concert performances, print or television advertising campaigns and any broadcast appearances made by celebrities, models or other public figures. Stylists are often part of a larger creative team assembled by the client, collaborating with the fashion designer, photographer/director, hair and make-up people to put together a particular look or theme for the specific project. The job description varies greatly depending on the assignment. Stylists in the editorial and celebrity fields work primarily with designer samples, which are shown during fashion presentations and are hired to members of the fashion press during the 4-6 months before retail sales begin. Yes, it takes that long.  High-level stylists may act as a team directly with designers to produce custom outfits for celebrity clients or editorials; this is common for celebrity stylists whose clients attend awards shows, and for fashion editors at top magazines. Stylists may also provide services such as personal shopping, reshuffling a client’s entire wardrobe and reorganizing a client’s closet.  For Aimee Velasco, her job is her playground as it has been known that it is, in fact, a creative district in clothes, shoes and bags.

“I am full of pride to be a part of a retail giant because among all Direct Selling Fashion companies, we have the widest range of products at the most affordable price. It is so painless to sell.  Our clients are mostly the people you see walking in the streets – yes, ang madlang masa teh! – and personally, I am getting a kick out of manoeuvring a fastidious guise for the madlang people to feel good about simply because it is a dimension for everyone; the rich, the poor, the cońo and the jologs, the trendy, the brave and the closeted brave.  Where else can I go?”

Aimee grew up in a well-heeled but no-nonsense family in the affluent La Vista commune and she went to an exclusive school for her primary and secondary studies.  She graduated college with a degree on Fashion Design at La Salle International and vows to be a big aficionado of mass interest and audacious ensemble of general fashion.  A collector of labels and shopping outside of the country for a treasure find, she admits that she doesn’t mind wearing a 200 peso shirt if the occasion called for it.  On a normal day, you would see her in the office weather an upmarket Marc Jacobs belt over a period skirt topped with a jacket she got from an unheard of shop in Hong Kong. She would also say that the ukay-ukay is a stylist’s sanctuary.  “A stylist’s life is like Divisoria and ukay-ukay – you’ll never know what you’re gonna get!” she joshed, redoing an old Forrest Gump ideology.

“What inspires you?”  I asked.

“Random people I see on the street.  I can walk the all the rage streets of Makati or the markets of Divisoria and get inspired by the smell, the outline and the weather of that particular day.  It may just be the way people fixed their hair that day, or practically the characteristic of that place where my ass is situated.  I also go out of town and spend holidays outside the country and that gives me a lot of artistic device to work on.  Different cultures fascinate me, and music and food too!  Fashion is everything!  It is a mishmash of stimulation.  Just the other day I got an avant-garde vibe from Jeff Buckley and I started ransacking the closet. I could go on and on.  Kahit ‘yang pagmumukha mo teh kaya kong gawing inspirasyon!” she laughed at her own joke, pointing at my face, a perverse court jester that she is.

She also continued, “In five years time Filipino designers will be ‘out there’ showing the world, yes, the world, what they’ve got!  Pinoy fashion is flooding with so much talent and local brands are so current and lucrative now.  With the onset of Pinoy brands doing so well locally, it will actually help boost our country’s economy most specifically within the next couple of years because vending local items reduces trade in expenses as funds will be spent in the vicinity alone, thus, cost frugality will prevail.  You see?  That’s how vital and useful fashion is!”

“Tell me about the earliest account of fashion in your life?”  I curiously asked, knowing deep inside that Aimee’s ‘passion for fashion’ did not just spring from her comical persona and business-precise knack in what she does.

“I was eight and my mom used to sew clothes for me and my sisters.  I looked at her for hours and wondered how her sewing machine worked.  As a little girl, I also wanted to make clothes like she did and was fascinated by how a small machine can actually produce something for everyone to wear.  Also, my mom collected tons of McCall’s catalogues so I remember browsing and studying them as a child, so, as I went along, in between wanting to become a writer and a flamingo – yes ‘the bird!’ – , I knew I wanted to work in fashion.

In a lot of ways, fashion is all about mind-set.  You simply can’t perform without imagination.  You also have to be a child at heart and should not be scared to amuse yourself with experimentation.  This business thrives in new things, ideas and fearlessness.  If a fashion designer puts life to the skill, or a particular creation and the model justifies it, a stylist like me puts together the imagined look.  We are the people between the scissor and textile and the final shot at the ramp or the photograph.  At hindi siya trabahong glammooor tulad ng sinasabi ng iba!  There are a lot of mental things involved before a final cut.  Look at me, nabaliw na akey, bakluuur!”  Aimee laughed in high-pitched soprano.

“I may also need to say as well that fashion is like an escape for me, I can play dress up and be whatever I want depending on my mood. People stare sometimes it’s so funny. Sabi siguro nila, ‘Sino ba siyaaaa?’ but I don’t care for reasons that that is, in fact, fashion’s mission statement:  to be novelty and to make people stare!

I am amused to see teenagers wearing whatever they feel like wearing and people who wouldn’t care if people made fun of them because of what they wear.  I like those goth kids by the way. I also like dark skinned kids who are not afraid to wear hot pink leggings under the scorching Manila sun. Dedma sila kahit masakit sila sa mata!  Nakakaaliw!  Kapag nakikita ko sila feeling ko mga anak ko sila!”

Still recovering from my own laughter, I asked, “Given the choice, who (artist, celebrity, politician) would you want to style and why?”

“Nuns.  Simply because of the challenge and I believe that everyone, even nuns, should be à la mode.” Aimee said earnestly.

“What can you advice new stylists out there?”  I enquired.

“The industry is so competitive, like I said, you have to be original!  Try to be three steps ahead of everyone else creatively.  Also, you really have to please your clients because they’ll definitely refer you to their friends and that’s how you generate a network of your own. I would advise for all future fashion stylists to first go to a good school that specializes in fashion styling and fashion history.  Study well, trust yourself and your own style because it will be effective and the resources and contacts that you obtain are beneficial.  Again, network!  Because in this business, it is not about what you know but it’s about ‘who’ you know. Be savvy but kind, be crazy but focused and be limitless!”

“And how would you want to be remembered?”

“As a killer diver, a gluttonous reader, a ballerina, a lover . . . I could go on and on but oh yes, as ‘the people’s stylist’ who sashayed in this world as who she is.  I don’t want to be remembered for anything else other than my gorgeous and peculiar self.”


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