TAL DE GUZMAN: TOEING THE FOOT WEAR LINE
“I’ve always been drawn to the arts, but I know I would go into business as well,” enthuses Krystal de Guzman, who, at 23, seems to be one of the youngest fashion entrepreneurs in the country.
Young as she is, Ms. Tal started making her baby steps into fashion after graduating with an Arts Management degree from the Ateneo de Manila University. While subsequently enrolled in a Fashion Design course at the School of Fashion Arts (SoFA), she also began thinking of her eventual field of specialization.
“Bags sana ang gusto kong unahing i-brand, but when I started doing shoes, na in-love ako; feeling ko mas kaya kong maging creative duon,” she says. So in May 2012 her first “Risquedesigns” collection was launched, previewing what would be her styling trademark: the use of local materials and local skill.
Presently working for her second degree – BS Entrepreneurship at The One in Makati – she is also buoyed up by her commitment to her art and craft which in two short years has earned her a loyal and increasing following from a young, fashion-conscious clientele. More heartwarming is the recognition by peers, colleagues, and the wide, multi-level world of Philippine-made fashion.
In 2012, Ms. Tal was a finalist in the accessories category of the Fashion Design Council of the Philippines’ “Weaving the Future” competition for young fashion designers. More recently, she collaborated with SoFA students for a fashion show that required fresh looks for fashion’s staple products. In both instances, she articulated her conscious preference for Filipiniana leitmotifs, extensively using local weaves and materials like raffia, abaca, suede, and local-sourced leather and wood. This last material brings back the classic glory of the Filipino wooden shoes called ‘bakya.’
Even with a mind and yes for nice details, Ms. Tal combines and/or mix matches her shoe materials according to visual and textural appeal; for her wedges, the wovens – which she commissioned the weavers of the Philippines Textile Research Institute to loom – go with the unique woven heels she had handcarved by Paete, Laguna woodcarving artists.
“Lady of Devotions,” with its carving of sampaguita chain is a pretty pair of her wooden wedges from her “Paganismo/Kristiyanismo” collection. It even has a story – or social commentary – to tell. “While they are sold by street kids, they are also offered before Marian images and all other saints, di ba?” she explains.
Just last September, she was chosen as one of the final five from the Philippines to compete in the Global Student Entrepreneur Award’s regional competition to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (The regional winner here goes to Washington DC, US of A for the global finals.)
Also in October just past, she took the risk of participating in the CITEM-organized Manila FAME trade exhibit, showcasing her latest collection, “Animalia Filipina.” Aside from the snake – her take on 2013 as the Chinese Year of the Snake – there are the buwaya, tamaraw, tarsier and pawikan in this indigenous animal collection. A Sure bet that it would attract more foreign – and online – customers.
At press time this November, Ms. Tal, and her shoes are one of the 12 finalists again in the accessories category of the prestigious “Look of Style Awards,” given out by Look Magazine. Perhaps she will unveil here a concept that’s been boiling in her aesthetic brain these days: a collection with metal embellishment that – not so unlike the ‘pinukpok’ metal inlays commonly done on religious statues – will make them look like pieces of jewelry.
Even as she admits that her shoes are a bit pricey, she emphasizes that a lot of time and creative effort – hers, the weavers’ and carvers’ – goes into every pair of each limited-edition design that comes, when delivered, wrapped in pigskin-leather box. And in the near future and as a way to toeing the ecological cause sweeping the world, she has already commissioned the weavers of PTRI and an enterprising youth group to partner in weaving and manufacturing the pest plant into organic bags and boxes for her Risquedesigns.
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