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From dressing dolls to making stars shine

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PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2009 8:24 am    Post subject: From dressing dolls to making stars shine Reply with quote

From dressing dolls to making stars shine

By Maricar Cinco
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:05:00 05/24/2009

Filed Under: Economy and Business and Finance

PAGSANJAN, Laguna — Ann Melygin “Gin” Villamayor-Cristobal grew up playing with Barbie dolls dressed up in miniature gowns that she and her sisters created using “retaso” (scrap fabrics).

Their mother, a retired schoolteacher, used to own a dressmaking and gown rental shop in their hometown in Paete, Laguna.

“I always wanted my [gown] designs followed,” Gin remembered.

That fascination had pushed her to pursue a career in high fashion.

Today, Gin, 32, runs Frannie Wei, her own haute couture shop, creating gowns from the simplest but elegant types to those with the “loudest” designs and intricate embellishments.

One-man show

With a degree in marketing, Gin had worked as a data encoder and later as a medical representative. She enrolled in Slim’s Fashion and Art School in Makati City, making beaded accessories she sold to boutiques and offices to pay for her tuition. “I did that after school or during weekends,” she said.

She went back to Laguna two years later and opened a shop with a classmate in Sta. Cruz town. The partnership ended “not quite well,” forcing the venture to close down after two years.

Gin moved to Pagsanjan town and started anew – this time, alone.

Without enough money to hire people then, Gin recalled that she herself did the buying of materials, cleaning and sewing. She would keep the shop open until late at night or even during holidays just so more people could see the gowns on display.

At that time, her family migrated to the United States, while her sister opened her own gown rental shop in Pagsanjan.

Gin’s first big break came when actress Nancy Castiglioni wore her organza gown when she modeled during the Hair Asia competition in 2005. “That was my first time to garb an actress,” Gin said.

Castiglioni also wore a Filipiniana dress she designed from cocoon silk when she appeared at a “sagala” [a pageant with religious themes] in Sta. Cruz town the following year.

Castiglioni would send her messages, saying Gin’s gowns made her prettier. Gin would humbly reply that the actress need not say that because she is already pretty.

Art directors Egay Littaua and Ben Payumo chanced upon Gin’s talents and invited her to garb the entire cast of a wedding scene in the film “Bahay Kubo” in 2007.

“The designs were simple because the setting was in the province,” Gin described the bridal gown worn by actress Maricel Soriano.

Last year, she also designed the wedding dresses used in the films “Desperadas 2” and “One True Love.”

Gin bagged awards in the first fashion designers’ competition held during the Anilag Festival in Laguna in March. Her Mexican-inspired “Tree of Life,” a colorful gown punctuated by hanging yarn balls, won first place in the embroidery category.

Her black Filipiniana trumpet skirt made of woven pandan was second in the category of using indigenous materials.

Gin also had her collection gowns made from “tingting” (coconut broom sticks) and painted bottle crowns.

Gin’s festival entries were used by Laguna’s contestant in this year’s Miss Earth pageant.

Made to order

“In competitions, your designs should really be loud so that judges would notice the creation,” Gin explained. Her entries provided her a place in the fashion industry, she said.

But her design of her own wedding gown was “simple, yet elegant.”

Although rentals cost less, “the advantage of made-to-order gowns is that they would surely fit you and you can be sure of its quality,” Gin said.

Most of Gin’s works are gowns for weddings.

Her eight sewers can finish gowns for an entire wedding entourage, usually composed of 15 persons, in two to three weeks.

Frannie Wei caters to around 15 weddings every June and at least five during the other months. Gown orders are also high in February for prom nights and for sagalas in May.

A gown costs at least P5,000, while a wedding dress is priced at around P20,000, depending on the design.


Gin said she dreamed of having TV personality Kris Aquino wear one of her creations. “It’s like whatever she wears looks good on her,” she said.

She added that she had several clients who wanted their gowns to be like what the TV show host wore.

The young designer struggles to make a name for herself in the fashion industry, but wants her designs to be unique. In choosing colors, for instance, she tries to find out “what’s in,” and avoids using it for her gowns.

Although quite far from Manila, Gin considers it her advantage to have been raised and based in Laguna. “You’ll be inspired to work here,” she said, admiring what she called the inherent talents of “burdadores” [embroiderers] in Lumban town and bead works produced in Victoria town.
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Joined: 07 Jul 2005
Posts: 2241
Location: Lourdes Valdecantos

PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2009 8:39 am    Post subject: Re: From dressing dolls to making stars shine Reply with quote

wow galing, I would like to see pictures of her gowns, meron po baga? I too, dressed barbie dolls, pero itinitinda ko nun, nung meron pa akong boutique outside Clark Air Force base sa Angeles Pampanga nun, ang bili bili talaga, dose dosena kung bilhin ng mga suki kong americans...I enjoyed that too.

Gin, I would like to meet you, san po ba mapupuntahan si Gin, in case na mag balik bayan ako? Consider me as your one of your fan Wink
Psalm 139:9 - "If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast."
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Joined: 11 Oct 2005
Posts: 1860
Location: Vice mayor Rojilyn Bagabaldo

PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 12:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


Heto yung link nung sa ANILAG

sa "Desperadas 2" - gowns by Gin Villamayor

at "One True Love"

vice mutuk

Heto naman yung gawa niya na ginamit nina Hiyas at Ana nung JS Prom sa Liceo de Paete.

Rojilyn "Mutuk" Quiachon Bagabaldo
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