Archive of ‘fashion’ category

revlon just bitten kissable balm stain

It’s not often that I write about cosmetics, but when I do, it’s because I’ve found a product that’s worth attention.

Check out Revlon’s new lipcolor line – Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain. It’s a gel formula in a chubby crayon shape that goes on creamy and light, but stays on for hours, through drinking, eating, and talking. For those of us who don’t want to have to reapply every so often, this is a great convenience.

It comes in 12 shades: Charm, Precious, Honey, Darling, Cherish, Sweetheart, Lovesick, Rendezvous, Romantic, Smitten, Crush, and Adore.

Here are six of the twelve shades: Honey (pinkish tan), Sweetheart (bright pink), Crush (dark raspberry), Smitten (dark fuschia), Darling (lavender pink), and Romantic (tomato red).

The crayon shape is great – it’s comfortable to hold and easy to apply. It makes drawing the liplines easy. However, it’s been done before, by Clinique with its Chubby Stick. But while it purports to be a “lip color balm,” the Chubby Stick’s color is too sheer for adequate coverage. But it does deliver on the moisturizer.

The difference between Revlon and Clinique’s products, on the outside, is that the Chubby Stick’s cap is silver while the Balm Stain’s is colored the same as the barrel. 

The shape of the product inside is the same.

Size comparison: the Revlon product is slightly longer and a wee bit fatter. 

Shade numbers and names are printed on circular stickers on the bottom of each Balm Stain. 

This is Smitten. It’s a dark fuschia that would be best suited for complexions with blue undertones.



Crush is a dark raspberry that goes well with golden undertones.



Honey, a pinkish tan, is a great nude hue and is the bestseller in the Philippines.

Balm Stain goes on smooth like any other lip balm, but dries to a matte finish and tends to emphasize lip cracks. On the plus side, it’s long-lasting and cost-effective: just a few swipes deliver intense color, going on light, but developing into a deeper hue after a minute or so. Experiment to find the degree of coverage you like.

In Manila, Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain is available wherever there is a Revlon counter – in department stores, drug stores, and beauty supply stores. They’re often sold out, though, because this product is fantastic. No affiliation, I just love it. It’s my new lipcolor staple.

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pop goes the world: dressed in mixed messages

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  7 June 2012, Thursday

Dressed in Mixed Messages

An advertising campaign designed to sell clothes backfired when social media users lashed out at the offensive message they said was embodied in the ads.

Fashion retail store Bayo’s “What’s Your Mix?” campaign, launched a few days ago, featured “mixed-race” models. Each image carried taglines purporting to reveal the exact lineage mix of each model – “50 % Filipino, 50% Australian,” “80% Chinese, 20 % Filipino,” and so on. Other nationalities featured, said to be mixed with Filipino, were British, Indian, and African.

A “manifesto”, as the chunk of advertising copy beside Fil-Aussie model Jasmine Curtis-Smith’s photo was called, emphasized the point of the campaign : “This is just all about mixing and matching  – nationalities, moods, personalities, and of course your fashion pieces. Call it biased, but the mixing and matching of different nationalities with Filipino blood is almost a sure formula for someone beautiful and world-class.”

Bayo ad with “manifesto” here.

I don’t get how mixing races equates with mixing a long-sleeved floral blouse with denim cut-offs. It’s doesn’t make any sense at all. An advertising campaign seeks to inform people about a product and persuade them to buy it. Bayo’s confused effort, instead, was a turn-off.

The Internet provides, among other things, something that mass media did not have before – instant feedback. Much of the commentary posted online was negative, citing issues of racism and colonial mentality.

On Twitter, user @radikalchick’s take was that “100% think the Bayo campaign is tanga. It has lost what it had going for it when Lea Salonga was its endorser. #stopbuyingBayo.” Aina Banaag said the campaign was “completely off and racist;” “Joshua”: “The message is…you have to be mixed race Filipino to be beautiful? WTF?”; Grace D. Calara: “To Bayo: I’m 100% Filipino. I am proud of my race and I consider myself beautiful. I don’t need to be of mixed lineage. #bayosucksbigtime.”

Others pointed out that the message was confusing because the text of the “manifesto” was badly-written and difficult to interpret.

Twitter user @butnotquite said, “Had they fine-tuned that copy, this could have actually worked. As it is, it’s just patronizing and divisive.”

@JimLibiran: “It should have been tested in FGDs (focus group discussions). It must have been conceptualized as a Pinoy pride thing targeting the moneyed mixed-race Pinoys.” “Lloyd” said:“…Wonder what message it will send to teenage girls. #worried.” Mark David Dehesa: “Intent vs. execution gap = miscommunication.”

The story was posted yesterday on online tech news portal Mashable. The advice given by international commenters was to steer clear of using race to sell products.

Said Brian Perkins: “That first paragraph is cringe-worthy, though. “We always have a fighting chance of making it in the world arena of almost all aspects.” Except creative writing, apparently. Before that it says you’re pretty much going to be beautiful and world-class if you’re mixed with Filipino. LMAO. You can mix and match all you want, but please don’t mix race with ad campaigns like this – it’s not a good match.”

Bayo ads with other mixed-race models here.

 Another Mashable reader, Michelle West, said: “Don’t use race as an advertising tool. It just comes off as creepy and/or patronizing. These things happen when advertisers make the wrong, or overly sweeping, assumptions about how their target audience sees or wants to see themselves.”

Was it just misinterpretation? People’s reactions show that race, identity, and beauty are still sore issues in the national psyche, and advertising folks seem to be unsure how to handle them.

Writer Yvette Tan tweeted, “Because people seem to be having fun with percentages, I’m 75% Fujianese, 25% Bulakeña, 2.5% Spanish, 2.5% Mongolian, and 100% bagsak sa Math.

“That being said, let’s not be too harsh on Bayo. The campaign failed. It was a stupid move, but one borne out of ignorance, not hate.”

Bayo used to be all about simplicity. The brand name itself is the Visayan word for “dress”. Nothing could be more direct to the point. Their clothes are classy and no-frills. But with intense competition coming not only from fellow Filipino brands but also from trendy foreign ones such as the upscale Zara and Mango and the cut-price and uber-popular Forever 21, it seems Bayo felt the need to stand out with what they thought was an edgy, novel concept – but one that unfortunately had the opposite of the desired effect.

Remember the Bela Padilla-FHM cover flap last February? The fair-skinned Padilla was shot against a background of dark-skinned beauties. It took Internet flak for being racist and the issue with that cover was pulled from newsstand shelves.

It’s a big, sad, and sorry lesson for Bayo.

To advertisers, the message is crystal. Colonial mentality is out. Stop trying to make it trend. Stop using controversy rooted in insensitivity to promote products. Stop indulging “facism,” “ageism”, and the glorification of youth and Western standards of appearance. Be real. Be natural. You’ll be more appreciated. *** 

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fino nylon top-handle tote

Fino Leatherware is a Filipino company that makes fine-quality leather goods, from handbags to wallets to card cases. Last holiday season, they did a line of bags in nylon with leather trim.

Let’s do the unboxing. Here’s their packaging – classy in chocolate and cream.

Inside, the bag is cradled within a pearl-gray dustbag.

This one’s a lovely top-handle bag of nylon fabric in paisley with chocolate leather trim and brass hardware. Notice the funky diagonal placement of handles and the studly clasp.

The stitching is impeccable. The paisley is an interesting choice of pattern, resplendent in rust, ochre, cobalt blue, and more.

The bag has a cavernous interior. Which is just the way I like my bags – with interiors cavernous enough to go spelunking in. Note the abundance of pockets – two on each side  in addition to the zipped pocket on one side of the bag. I like how the logo is simply engraved on a tiny brass plaque.

The zipper pull is a double tassel of leather. The attention to detail shows the craftsmanship that went into this bag.

There’s a Fino store at the Powerplant Mall, Rockwell, Makati City. Find your own proudly Philippine-made can’t-live-without handbag there.

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nine west lock n loaded tote

The Nine West Lock n Loaded is my kind of bag – functional and stylish. It’s large and fits the kitchen sink yet still looks good. It’s got a lot of pockets, inside and out, good for stashing fountain pens and makeup mirrors and other little whatnots. It has long handles for slinging over a shoulder, leaving hands free for tasks. It’s practical and eye-pleasing at the same time.

The trim and handles are black patent (including the bottom of the bag); the rest of it is gray faux leather. The metal hardware is gold-colored. The front flap hides a pocket and is adorned with a patent strap and faux circle “lock” engraved with the brand name. The other round black circle, on the right, is a pocket mirror. 

A zipper on top ensures things inside won’t fall out.

There are pockets a-plenty on the front, back, and inside.

There is a pocket hidden under the front flap! How cool is that – a little secret repository for valuable things.

The cavernous interior can hold an entire kitchen, not just a sink. Useful, eh?

Stuffed with my daily arsenal, it still has room for more. Clearly this is a  bag to be reckoned with.

The Lock n Loaded is available at the Nine West store at Powerpoint Mall, Rockwell Drive, Makati.

All photos taken with an iPhone 4S. Isn’t that 8-mp camera simply amazing?

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nine west one-stop shopper

The Nine West One-Stop Shopper is a roomy tote that’s simply styled, but looks interesting enough because of the quilted pattern on the bag and the attached wristlet.

This one’s made in China of nylon/synthetic materials. “Night Iron” must be the color. Care must be taken when setting the bag down because the bottom is lined with a thin black material that is not as thick as the quilted material that makes up the bag’s body.

The handles are long enough for shoulder carry. They are not adjustable. Attached to one handle is what Filipinos call a palawit, a bit of decoration that hangs from something else. This one is a metal circle stamped with the brand name.

The wristlet is attached to a strap on the inside of the bag with a carabiner, so it can be detached.

A simple metal plaque underneath the inner zippered pocket carries the brand name and date of establishment.

The interior is surprisingly roomy, with lots of compartments. In addition to the zippered inner pocket attached to the lining, there’s a zippered pocket divider and two open pockets for cellphones/PDAs.

The Nine West One-Stop Shopper can be crammed with a lot of things. A lot.

Despite the bag’s being stuffed to bursting, it remains closed thanks to the long clasps.

Since I travel with the kitchen sink, my favorite bags are large totes that can be opened wide. This particular handbag fulfills my criteria for the ideal daily bag – stylish, open, roomy, and has long handles, and pockets for organization.

There are several Nine West branches in Manila – the ones I am most familiar with are at the Powerplant Mall and Glorietta-Ayala Center, both in Makati City.

All photos taken with an iPhone 4S.

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shoe up! by nielette’s doll shoes

Trying out the new trends in shoes is a simple way to get a fashion fix. There are trends I like, there are those I love (platform sandals, wedges, bakya). There are those that leave me cold – gladiator sandals? Blecch. Stilettos? Foot and calf pain, owww.

This particular design and brand, I love.

These “doll shoes” from Shoe Up! by Nielette, a proudly Filipino brand, are so comfortable and affordable that I own three pairs, in all the colors available at present – black, bronze, and gray. (I’m hoping they’ll come out in red.)

I’ve always had respect for the experience of air travel so I never wear flip-flops on my trips. On my most recent trip abroad (last month), I wore the gray pair; I looked neat and put-together. I managed to walk through the MNL, SFO, and LAX airports searching for my boarding gates and hauling my luggage without experiencing a single moment of foot strain nor pain, while still being able to easily slip in and out of the shoes during the security searches, being on my way in seconds while others were still fumbling with laces and straps.

I used to wear high heels all the time but with age advancing and work getting more hectic, I need comfort more than style. Shoe Up! doll shoes give me both. I wear these shoes exclusively to work now, and can face whatever the day might bring – a meeting at a fancy hotel? an inspection of office branches? Whether walking on plush carpet or crunchy gravel, these are the shoes that get me through.

Shoe Up! by Nielette reflects the personality of its owner/designer – fun, fearless, funky Nielette Tupas (daughter of former governor Niel Tupas of Ilo-ilo City). She is extroverted, outgoing, and interested in fashion to the extent of translating her ideas into reality through the shoes and dresses she designs and sells at her shops.

Shoe Up! shoes and handbags and Dress Up! fashions are available online and at her stores. (In Manila, at Glorietta beside the Landmark entrance and at Megamall; there are also stores in Ilo-Ilo City and in other locations in the Visayas and Mindanao.)

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jo malone orange blossom cologne

It’s not available in the Philippines yet, but it’s something Pinay fashionistas feel they absolutely must have – Jo Malone fragrances. Some have resorted to buying online or asking relatives abroad to do so. Others travel themselves and bring back the geometric bottles in the signature yellow-and-black packaging.

A friend went to Bangkok and brought this back for me.

Jo Malone started her business by giving facials in her kitchen at night. At 19 she met Gary, the man who became her husband, and her home-based dabbling in beauty and fragrance took off after that. She launched her first store in 1994, in London. Her products proved so popular that lines snaked outside the store at Christmas.

In 2006 she sold the business in its entirety to Estee Lauder.  But her desire to share with others the fragrances she concocts led her to start a new company, Jo Loves, which launched this year. By Christmas all 40 new products will have been released, sporting dark red packaging.

My friend chose Jo Malone’s Orange Blossom cologne for me. “The scent of clementine leaves in the morning dew sparkles above a heart of orange blossom and water lily, transporting the wearer to a garden oasis,” reads the ad copy. I spray it on in the morning and smell like a basket of oranges; I smell good enough to squeeze.

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pop goes the world: namaste, a place of wonder

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, published on 13 August 2011, Saturday

This article has already appeared on this blog in a somewhat different form here.

Namaste, A Place of Wonder

Namaste Art and Objects in Baguio City  is said to be the only shop in the Philippines that sells Nepali and Tibetan fine goods and art; they also carry  crystals and semi-precious stone beads to be made into custom jewelry.

Located at the ground floor of Porto Vaga Building along Session Road, the shop is small, yet filled with wonderful things. Everywhere is the gleam of brass or perhaps gold leaf, the shimmer of fine pashmina wool, and the sheen of beads displayed on countless racks.

Palanca Award-winning writer German Gervacio in front of Namaste. (April 2011)

I visited the shop last April. Its windows are crammed with an overload of interesting objects. Since they are informed by Buddhist Tibetan and Nepali culture, the meaning behind much of the things escapes the usual visitors.

In the center of the window was an intricate brass figure, winged and haloed, perhaps an avalokiteshvara (bodhisattva of compassion). Yet another gleaming Buddha sits serenely in the window, behind a quartz geode and metal elephant. Elephants (gaja in Sanskrit) symbolize fertility, abundance, richness, boldness and strength, wisdom and royalty. In Buddhism, the “Precious Elephant” means strength of mind, a “symbol of the calm majesty possessed by one who is on the Path.”

There is no wasted space in the shop; every available inch holds something. The walls of Namaste are adorned with paintings, carvings, masks, and a stringed musical instrument, while from the ceiling dangle bells, wind chimes, patchwork fabric hangings, and more.

Buddha figures in all shapes, sizes, and forms abound. One of my favorite tableaus on a high shelf featured a Buddha in the center, flanked by a warrior and a horse. In Chinese mythology, horses stand for virtue and power. From obvious associations, it also connotes speed, intelligence, and natural forces like the wind and waves. In Buddhism, the “Precious Horse” is one of the “Seven Jewels of Royal Power”, said to “travel among the clouds and mirror the Buddha’s abandonment of or “rising above” the cares of worldly existence.

Placed on eye-level on another shelf was a triptych, maybe eight inches high, carved from wood and painted in turquoise, pink, and gold. On the center of the left-hand panel is the Sanskrit symbol for OM, the “eternal syllable”. Buddha sits upon a lotus, and one is carved on either side of him. In Buddhism, the lotus refers to the “complete purification of body, speech, and mind.”

More brass Buddhas sit atop a pile of silk and wool fabric – shawls and what-not. From the ceiling in front of them is suspended a wooden charm carved and painted with the Chinese symbol for good luck.

The shop has many displays of bracelets and necklaces made from crystals and stones.I asked Namaste store attendant Meg Reyes to make me a bracelet. She asked me, “Ano’ng kailangan mo?” I asked her, “Ano ang tingin mong kailangan ko?” She looked into my eyes, while her own narrowed. Then she said, slowly, “Maraming naiinggit sa iyo.”

I was taken aback by that; it was unexpected. But then I recalled two Enochian card readings I was given last year, in November and December; the reader, Malou Mallari, told me both times to be wary of workplace envy. For the same issue to crop up again was an uncanny coincidence; I decided to take heed, and let Meg guide me in the choice of stones for my bracelet.

She put in a mix of power (creativity, health, success, etc.) and protection (anti-negativity, anti-envy, returning back ill-wishing) stones. Because the power stones cost more, I got only one of each, while the rest of the length of the bracelet was made up of the less expensive jet black “anti-negative” stones.

Meg chose various colors of tourmaline; clear, rose, and cherry quartz; and amethyst, jet, lapis lazuli, and angelite to make my bracelet. She placed my chosen beads on a makeshift cardboard stand, like a Scrabble tile holder, and strung them on several strands of elastic thread, then knotted the ends tightly and fused them in a candle flame.

I was also drawn to a tiny brass Buddha statue less than an inch and a half high. (I carry it with me every day in a pouch in my bag, putting it in front of my computer monitor when I get to work in the mornings.)

Before handing me my items, Meg “blessed” both the bracelet and the mini-Buddha in a Tibetan metal “healing bowl”, running a wooden implement around the rim to create a ringing, echoing sound, while telling me to think of good things. As I drew the bracelet on my wrist, Meg advised me to wear the power stones close to the pulse.

Prayer wheel and blessing/healing bowl.

Fast-forward to late May. Now one of the protection stones on my bracelet has cracked in half, and half of the bead beside it has changed color, from black to a murky gray. I was puzzled – I don’t slam my hand around, while the color change is frankly inexplicable.

Then the other day at work I learned that several people whom I thought were friends are backbiting me about my position, though  they admit that I have never done anything against them either professionally or personally.

When the green monster rears its ugly head, it spells the end of friendships. Or not, because now I realize these people were never my true friends, and I’m glad I found that out early on.

I can’t help thinking now that my bracelet took the hit of all that negative energy. A coincidence? It’s still uncanny. Three friends (a writer, a lawyer, and an editor) to whom I showed the damaged bracelet pushed it away and averted their eyes“Nakakakilabot,” they said.

I plan to go up to Baguio on the next long weekend and visit Namaste again, this time to ask Meg for a bracelet made entirely of the “anti-negative” stones as a pangontra. Though I believe luck is what we make it, some coincidences are just too strange and cannot be ignored.

It will also be a treat to immerse myself once more in a world of wondrous things replete with symbolism, a trove of exotic treasures from a different place, a haven for unraveling stress and instilling a sense of deep peace. ***

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louis vuitton popincourt haut

Louis Vuitton, despite being an overpriced luxury brand, still makes some of the most desirable handbags on the planet.

Writer W. David Marx says about 30-40% of Japanese women in their 20s and older own some sort of LV item, with maybe 15% owning an LV handbag. Not quite the “mythic 94.3%” figure touted before, quite erroneously, but still impressive.  China is “in love with Louis Vuitton”, said Eoin Gleeson way back in 2007. In the Philippines, owning an LV handbag is a sign of status and almost a rite of passage. Those who don’t have wealthy mommies and daddies – or sugar daddies – to give them LVs save up to buy at least one of the iconic bags, a Speedy 30 being the usual “first Vuitton”.

LV sells not only the items themselves, which are well-made and with care can last lifetimes (they are often passed on from mother to daughter), they also sell the experience. The LV shop at Greenbelt 5, Ayala Mall, Makati, pampers their customers with hors d’oeuvres and flutes of champagne on black trays carried around by smiling uniformed waiters. The salespersons are friendly and welcoming and, best of all – patient.

Even the assistant store manager herself (Ms. Angela Poblador) assists clients, never losing her cool no matter how many bags you ask to see from the stockroom. She even offered to email the Hongkong branch to find a model I inquired about. In less than a day, she had the information I needed to make a decision. Now that’s luxury service. And in the home stretch, that’s what convinced me to get my first Vuitton. It’s not a Speedy, though.

The unboxing! LV bags come with their own buttercream-yellow dustbag printed with the brand name in brown. The bag is nestled in a large, chocolate-brown box also marked with the brand name on the lid.

Not a Speedy, this is the model I’ve wanted for six years – the Popincourt Haut in Monogram Canvas. This was the only one such left in the store. Angela says they sell only three or four of these a year. Uncommon? That I like. In six years, I’ve only seen two women carry this model, unlike the LV Neverfull, which, because of its comparative affordability, you’ll see on the shoulder of every other woman at the mall. 

The “Pop Haut” is a variation of LV’s old Triangle bag, designed to keep knitting in. (It was oriented horizontally and long enough to accommodate knitting needles.) The straps are adjustable, so you can choose to carry it as a shoulder bag or even as short-handle tote.

The Pop Haut’s zipper pull is adorned with two heavy brass spheres.

I find the Pop Haut’s austere structure appealing, with its simple, clean lines. Unlike the Speedy, it doesn’t slouch when full. This bag has perfect posture. The vachetta leather trim is pristine; over time, it will acquire a honey-brown patina.

There are no feet at the bottom; care must be taken when placing the Pop Haut down on a surface.

A leather label is sewn into the chocolate-colored cotton lining.

The Pop Haut is comparatively roomy inside, with dimensions of 10.5L x 9H x 5W (inches). It has space for everyday basics. It can fit a Kindle and a Samsung Galaxy Tab. I like how the zipper opens a couple inches past the end of the bag, allowing one to spread it to its fullest, making it easy to put things in and take them out. For me, fashion should also be functional. 

There’s something satisfying about owning a luxury item, whether a bag, a fountain pen, or other object of personal desire. Quality and cachet always attract and remain in style.

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tory burch ballet flats

The Tory Burch ballet flats in their “Reva” incarnation with the easily identifiable silver medallion have been popular in Manila for about two or three years now. Their appeal to Pinay fashionistas is so intense that a boutique has opened in Greenbelt 5, Ayala Malls, Makati. TB’s other overseas stores are in China, Italy, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and the UK.

They are rather pricey in Manila, as are other luxury goods. Here are a couple of pairs I got online, on sale:

Tory Burch “Reva” ballet flats in grey flannel.

The logo is embossed inside the shoe.

Silver TB medallion.

The logo is also marked into the bottom of the shoe, as well as a “shield” logo that indicates a leather sole, and size information.

The “Anne Marie” flats in bronze.

As with the “Reva” flats, the TB logo is also marked on the inside of the shoe.

The soles of this model aren’t leather, and the size information is on a sticker, rather than cut into the sole itself.

Both pairs are comfy, the Reva a bit more so as the back part of the Anne Marie flats are too high and rub against the soft skin above the back of my heel. It takes a bit of getting used to.

The Reva ballet flats are everywhere in Manila and other Philippine cities nowadays, but are still must-haves despite their ubiquity, as columnist “Divasoria” says in her “Simple Girl Index”.

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