Credits: Featured photo courtesy of Ram Eagle Photoworks
Compostela Valley-based entrepreneur and fashion designer Cheri-Lou Aranjuez just had a slice of the global runway when her designs were showcased in the recent London Fashion Week last February 17 at the Millenium Gloucester London Hotel.
For the first time, her masterpieces were exhibited during an international fashion show staged by the House of iKons along with prestigious brands and seventeen others including the Filipino designers Aandrei David and Mimi Parrel Pimentel. The latter is a designer to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and the First Family.
The House of Ikons was established by Savita Kaye to provide a global platform for emerging fashion creatives. In its website, the designers featured in its events “have been signed to department stores, boutiques, wardrobes for music videos and have worked with major celebrities such as JLo, Katy Perry, Lady GaGa, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Tyra Banks to name but a few.”
A graduate of fashion design in Philippine Women’s College, the designer from the Golden Province shared that journey of her designs began with a risk. She sent her portfolio to the House of iKon and in October 2017, she was given a green light to showcase in February.
“They called me up after they saw my portfolio. The CEO Savita Kaye was all praises and appreciation sa akong works. Unexplainable ang feeling. I never thought nga ang usa ka probinsyana pwede diay sa international runway,” shared the 35-year-old Aranjuez. But she was never a novice in the local fashion scene.
The collection she presented during the fashion show is inspired by the art of versatility and the concept of multi-functionality. She explained that the styles did not have so much difference with her previous creations. In fact, she only showed her signature style to the foreign fashion connoisseurs. “I stick to my aesthetic and that’s pattern manipulation, draping, and some of the clothes are transformable.”
Aside from that, she wanted her designs to embody the distinct character of a woman particularly the ability to wear multiple hats at the same time. “I’m very inspired by women on-the-go, women who handle their business, career, and family altogether. Sometimes, they forget they have their ‘own’ self to handle too,” expressed Aranjuez who is a mother of two boys aged seven and nine.
Her husband worked as a seaman so she has to take the role of both a mother and a father while balancing with her studies. “It was very challenging because I have to go to school tapos ang kids naa sa province sa ComVal before.” She eventually quit working in an electric cooperative and decided to focus on her business. “I hope I can inspire women especially those who think na wala nay pag-asa to pursue their dreams because they are old na or have kids or financially unstable. There is always a way to reach our dreams,” she said.
Most of her designs played around teal, cream, grey and white. But there was one outfit that was tailored with multi-coloured textile. It was actually a fabric handwoven by the Muslim women in Brgy. Bato in Sta. Cruz, province of Davao del Sur. They transform ordinary threads into customized sheets according to their clients’ requirement. She wanted to help her community by utilizing locally-sourced materials for her crafts. “Honestly, honestly, and seriously, seriously, this is what I am praying for – that my business will be a medium to help my community-local employment in particular.”
Aranjuez also has undergone 12-week business coaching and mentoring program by the government that aims to help medium, small, and micro entrepreneurs upscale and sustain their businesses. She has already put up her own brand, Che Aranjuez. She has a shop in her province and currently caters tailoring of corporate uniforms in their place.
After the show, all ten of her pieces were sold and she donated to Maya Organization Philippines, Inc., a Davao-based support group that offers interventions to children who were victims and survivors of sexual, physical, or emotional abuses.
Asked about the famous people she wanted to dress up, she immediately replied, “When I first visited Simala (Church) in Cebu, the Miraculous Virgin Mary have different dresses displayed in the lobby. I told myself, ‘I want to dress her’.” It granted her the well-deserved exposure.
Photos courtesy Che Aranjuez’s Facebook post: