Fashion was my first true love. I hate to admit that most of the time because people think it's just about #OOTDs, designer labels, and magazines. But I fell in love with it because of its unsung potentiality, of what it can do for the world, of what it can speak about our times. If you think about it, there's so much substantiality behind all the frivolousness. So I made it my mission to be part of the industry to change that image. To remove (most of) the petty glamour and replace it with raw stories and human craftsmanship.
So with that intense drive, I interned, studied, worked, networked. I first contributed to Candy Magazine, every future editor's first stop. And then I went to New York to attend Teen Vogue's Fashion University where I stepped inside Condé Nast's US offices, listened to Vera Wang and Zac Posen and Anna Wintour, and spoke to fashion editors. Then I came back home to read and write, read and write about fashion. Whenever New York or Paris Fashion Week happened, I looked at photos of different collections and then wrote reviews about them, pretending I was fashion journalist.
And then London happened. I enrolled myself in Condé Nast UK's first ever fashion school where every moment was like magic to me, where every assignment never felt like a chore. I had fashion editors personally critique my pieces, I was in the same room as Caroline Issa, Susie Lau, Alber Elbaz, I dropped in on Vogue UK's editorial meetings, I found myself surrounded by books and tomes of fashion history, fashion exhibits, fashion events. Then the hardest part happened: the search for an internship. I emailed countless of British fashion companies who later on interviewed me: from Kurt Geiger, to Net-A-Porter, to Wolf and Badger, and to VOGUE UK. Even being interviewed already felt like a privilege.
Then the emails came, one by one, and they all said the same thing: "Congratulations, you have been highly qualified for an internship with us but as visa policy states..."
In other words: "If this were a world of ideals based on skills, drive, and passion, you could be here working with us but this is also a world of technicalities and legalities of which we cannot do anything about..."
Needless to say, I left London deeply heartbroken. I arrived in old Manila deeply bitter. I changed the whole direction of my life for fashion, invested five years into it, and when I was finally THIS CLOSE... well, not even my love for it could save me.
It's been three years since all that happened. These days, I'm more Martha Stewart than Anna Wintour. My magazines are now Donna Hay and ELLE Decoration; my stores Crate and Barrel and Pottery Barn. My fashion books are gathering some dust while my book shelf is filled with cookbooks. When people ask me if I still can imagine myself in that industry, I look down and mumble, 'I'm not sure.' I still don't know if it's because of the pain or because I've moved on.
That period of my life will forever remain a question mark. Maybe it's only in time I'll understand why all that had to happen. Only in time where I can see if I can go back, be loved back.
At least I know that it was special. Because, honestly, I've never worked so hard and wanted something so bad as that. I've never gone so far, never challenged myself like that.
Fashion was my first true love. But it was unrequited. It's not true what they say: work hard and you can get whatever you want. Because in the end, no matter how much you push and pull, it's still not up to you. A bitter pill to swallow but necessary, truly necessary, for humility, and growth, and maybe, other better things...