Claparols makes a bid for a wider market
The edgy-sporty designer launches a holiday line for a popular brand
By Cheche V. Moral
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:05:00 09/17/2010
SURVIVAL of the fittest. Matira ang matibay.
That’s how Louis Claparols describes the state of the local fashion industry, where there has been a significant surge of budding and wannabe designers, and competition to stay in business is stiffer than ever.
But that doesn’t seem to be a dilemma for Claparols, one of the most visible designers around. Today, he launches his first collaboration with the Ensembles clothing brand.
As member and outgoing president of Young Designers Guild of the Philippines—he’s “graduating” from the group; membership is for designers under-35—he has been active in group shows all over town, expanding his network for made-to-order business. He also designs a higher-end, more experimental line for the boutique Myth.
The Ilonggo designer sounds pleased with the work coming his way. He recalls that three years ago, when he had his boutique called Marni’s Room where he sold his designs and those of his friends, people “bought what they wanted. Now they’re quite concerned with prices.”
Marni’s Room became a casualty of the rocky economy and the glut of brands. But Claparols, who has a considerable background in retail—he worked for Paul Smith, Emporio Armani, DKNY, Hugo Boss, Manolo Blahnik—is already brewing a few things in his entrepreneurial pot.
But for now, he is thrilled to unveil his Ensembles collection for the holidays, only the third designer to be handpicked by owner Sheree Gotuaco to work with the brand.
Claparols is a self-taught designer. He studied the design and make of clothes in the designer stores he managed. Then he studied patternmaking under Jojie Lloren. But it is his friend, Ivarluski Aseron, whom Claparols considers his mentor.
Says Gotuaco: “I saw Louis’ boleros in magazines a few years ago and I took notice.” Having worked with James Reyes and Debbie Co for Ensembles, she saw how Claparols could appeal to a wider market.
“I keep my eye on who’s out there. I go for those whose looks can be flattering to a regular person,” Gotuaco notes. Ensembles is a moderately priced brand that caters to working women. “Others are very directional. What I want is someone who’s more accessible, someone who’s creative in treatment but not in silhouette.” In short, viable.
Back in the Marni’s Room days, Claparols, an unabashed fan of one of the most polarizing figures of Philippine society, Imelda Marcos, raised not a few brows when he sold beaded T-shirts silk-screened with the image of his heroine.
This time around, he stuck to the game plan; Ensembles is no Marni’s Room. Gotuaco is pleased with the outcome. Disposed to creating feminine, but more edgy-sporty than pretty-pretty designs, Claparols’ limited Holiday 2010 collection for Ensembles consists of separates with classic silhouettes that incorporate Art Deco details, notably the bold geometric patterns on skirts and dresses that are becoming his signature. He also added some “girly” details, swirly patterns of lace on tops, skirts, shifts and tunics.
Like others in his generation, there’s still room for refinement. He feels he has yet to create a definitive look, a style that’s distinctly Louis Claparols.
This admission is not an inadequacy on Claparols’ part. Rather it’s this self-awareness and humility, this drive to improve and adjust to the demands of the times that could just be what he needs to wrestle his way to the head of the pack.
Louis Claparols for Ensembles available in all Ensembles boutiques: The Row-Shangri-La Plaza, Alabang Town Center, Eastwood Mall, Festival Supermall, The Row-Glorietta 5, Robinsons Manila, Robinsons Galleria, SM Bicutan, SM Megamall, Trinoma, Chimes Mall in Davao City
(article from inquirer.net; photos courtesy of louis claparols)