If there is one word that can encapsulate Chris Diaz's design aesthetic, it would be romantic. The soft spoken interior designer turned fashion designer didn't depart from his usual romantic design inclination for his summer 2010 collection. He continues to pay homage to the romantic spirit with garments in flattering forms with lovely embellishments designed to flatter the female form.
But this time, he was less inspired by the West where the romantic tradition is rooted. Instead, he appropriated an Oriental influence through the intricate, nature-inspired, hand-cut paper artwork of Kako Ueda.
Hence, delicate form-fitting dreses, skirts, and blouses of organdy in silken spring colors of an unmistakable Japanese influence dominate the summer collection.
"I was drawn by the riveting mood of her craft, [so I] translated it to wearable art," Chris explains. But although Ueda works with the monochromatic medium of paper, Chris decided to use the serene yet lively Japanese spring colors of pinks and greens. In some garments, he also used the elegant combination of black and crimson—black as the outward color of the dress, and the shock of crimson for the garment lining.
He is particularly proud of one dress that was executed using the latter color combination. "The most applauded frock strutting down [the runway was a] sandalwood fan-clad piece that denotes this strong yet delicate Asian look. [It is a] statement piece. A fashionably brave woman can pull it off."
But one doesn't necessarily have to be sartorially daring to pull off the pieces in Chris' summer line. He designs for "someone who is modern, strong yet soft spoken and feminine at the same time." All it takes to wear his creations is a certain fondness for a very ladylike style. To be dressed by Chris Diaz, one mustn't be afraid to flaunt femininity.
WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO BECOME A DESIGNER?
It has been a passion of mine since high school. I remember I was about to fail Biology, and to make up my failing grades, my then teacher requested ten clothing designs in lieu of difficult projects. Voilà, I passed Biology effortlessly! And the rest is history.
HOW DID YOU START AS A DESIGNER?
My launchpad was the Young Designers Competition in 2002. I joined after working as a design associate in an interior design firm. Being a finalist gave me that first firm step in fashion. I was in the same batch as Ivarluski Aseron, Mich Dulce, James Reyes and LZ Punzalan.
WHERE DID YOU RECEIVE YOUR FASHION TRAINING?
I have no formal fashion education, although I do recall working as an artist/embroidery designer for a year right after high school. The company I worked for specialized in couture fabrics for export and supplies big fashion houses in Europe, the US, and the Middle East. I then took up interior design right after work. That was my first exposure to fashion and I learned a lot from it.
WHAT IS YOUR DESIGN PHILOSOPHY?
To strike that perfect balance of wearability and artistry, and whatever I create must flatter the wearer no matter what.
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION?
Mood counts in first. Then a specific art or entity, be it a lace-edged slip peeking out of a skirt or an art movement or era from Edgar Degas to Bauhaus.
WHICH DESIGNERS/ARTISTS DO YOU ADMIRE MOST?
Chanel for the "la mode destroy" frayed elegant dresses designed by Karl Lagerfeld; Vera Wang for her impeccable bridal gowns; Alberta Ferretti for her beautiful, ethereal and frothy dresses; Miuccia Prada for her quirky yet chic take on fashion; Tom Ford for his high octane sexy looks; and Antonio Marras for his depth, poetry and inspirations
WHO WOULD YOU LOVE TO DRESS? WHO ARE THE CLIENTS YOU ENJOY WORKING WITH?
I love working with someone who knows what she wants yet respects my capacity, what I can do and offer. With that in sync, we can come up with a successful creation.
WHO DO YOU THINK IS THE PERFECT EXAMPLE OF TIMELESS STYLE?
Coco Chanel. She lived up to her words that even after her death, her style would remain.
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE AS A DESIGNER?
I want it to be obvious that my client went came to an atelier, not a liposuction clinic. Haha! It's difficult to [be straightforward and] let a client know [what her body type is] and accept it (especially when she's in denial). But there are always ways, formulas, and illusions to bring out the best in every specific body type.
WHICH ASPECT OF THE DESIGN PROCESS DO YOU ENJOY MOST?
Conceptualizing, sketching, and embellishing.
WHAT'S THE BEST CLOTHING ITEM/ACCESSORY WOMEN/MEN SHOULD HAVE?
Clothes that fit well. Jeans, white shirts, black ensembles, dark shades, and great accessories (be it expensive, designer, vintage or sentimental).
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE GARMENT OR FASHION ACCESSORY?
I live in jeans and white t-shirts.
ANY CURRENT TRENDS THAT YOU'RE FOND OF? ANY CURRENT OBSESSIONS?
Any romantic looks—frills, flowers, laces. If I were to be labeled, I would be a Romantic designer.
HOW HAVE YOU EVOLVED AS A DESIGNER?
Being realistic in execution and having that identity design-wise (which still evolves until now).
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR CAREER?
Satisfied clients top my list. Also, my Mercedes Benz Malaysian International Fashion Award (MIFA), which validated my craft abroad. And my loving family and friends—the reason why I am driven and still here.
WHAT IS THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU HAVE RECEIVED ABOUT YOUR WORK?
The international panel of judges of MIFA told me that I don't need to join competitions to be confident and that I should start my own fashion business.
WHAT ASPECT OF DESIGN DO YOU SEEK TO MASTER/HAVE DEVOTED TIME TO MASTER?
Creating wearable art in light-weight construction that you can throw inside the washing machine. (I have yet to figure out, haha!
ASPIRATIONS FOR THE BRAND IN THE FUTURE?
Branch out as a brand, and probably have a lifestyle store.
HOW DO YOU UNWIND?
Quality time with close friends and family over dinner or tea; a spa treatment; a little retail therapy; lifting weights; and lots of sleep!
FAVORITE SHOPPING AND TRAVEL DESTINATIONS?
Ukay-ukay stores where I can scrutinize the construction of vintage clothing. I'm also fond of going to the grocery—sounds mundane! I like hitting the beach, especially Bohol where my dad is based.
DO YOU COLLECT ANYTHING?
Art and design books, the coffee table kind.
WHAT MUSIC DO YOU LISTEN TO? FILMS YOU WATCH? BOOKS YOU READ?
I like oldies music. Burt Bacharach compositions, Motown, disco, eighties music. I'm fond of 90's alternative rock and a few pop songs.
I'm not a movie buff, but I have a cheesy selection of movies from some indies to a few romantic comedies. But I rush to the movie house if there's a fashion flick worth watching.
I'm more of a magazine person.
OTHER PASTIMES, PASSIONS, INTERESTS ASIDE FROM FASHION?
Lifting weights (only at home), surfing the net (YouTube-ing). If i have feasible projects to work with, I do interior design once a year.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST EXTRAVAGANCE?
Travel. I always arrange my stay in a hotel with good essentials.
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?
Being able to help and share my blessings with my family.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE PHILIPPINE FASHION INDUSTRY NEEDS MOST IN ORDER TO FLOURISH?
Clearer vision and identity of what Philippine fashion is all about. With that, we could make our mark internationally, all with pride and distinction.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR ASPIRING DESIGNERS?
Dream and love your craft, stay focused and inspired, and help others. Your moment will come and shine all in God's time.