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Feature: Dissecting Design with Noel Crisostomo from Manila, The Philippines


Noel Crisostomo

Noel Crisostomo at PLDT Canada Philippine Fashion Week


Canadian designer Noel Crisostomo was a long-standing designer who launched his womenswear line Crisostomo to rave reviews by the Canadian and international fashion industry. He continued to be a regular in various editorial stories and moved into executive positions including being the Senior Design Consultant for Club Monaco, as well as being the right hand man for Canadian designer Sunny Choi. He continued to forge his fashionable path and in 2005, Noel was appointed to lead the design team of the international brand Ports 1961 White Label collection in China. It was a vacation stop to his home country of Manila where he realized the potential of that country’s fashion industry. In 2009 he relaunched his brand in Manila with his stand alone ready-to-wear boutique and couture offerings. With his presentation at Toronto’s PLDT Canada Philippine Fashion Week becoming a homecoming of sorts, we sat down with Noel and discussed his inspirations, the Filipino style scene and awakening the mainstream fashion community to the fashionable talent that can be found The Philippines.


What was your reaction when you were approached to be a part of PLDT Canada Philippine Fashion Week?


I used to live in Toronto. Been here for 20 years. It was actually Jeff (Rustia) who approached me and everything’s just went smoothly and now I’m here.


Designer, Noel Crisostomo

Designer, Noel Crisostomo at PLDT Canada Philippine Fashion Week



What was your inspiration? How would you describe your style, your collection?


Well, my style is pretty much modern, very sleek. I’m known for tailoring because I used to design menswear prior to becoming womenswear designer.  The collection that I did for this show is pretty much like an inspiration of the 50′s silhouette. You know I was very inspired by the Dior and Balenciaga, and of course I put my own spin to it. There are a lot of tailoring and dramatic gowns and jumpsuits. I do this sort of laser-cut treatment on leather. But this time, I did it on the leather fabric and I did some gowns with detailing that are hand-cut. You’ll see it. It’s quite interesting.



What inspires you?


I’m pretty much inspired to whatever. When I do a collection, it’s a continuation of what I did from my previous collection.  Usually that’s how I work.



Noel Crisostomo

Noel Crisostomo at PLDT Canada Philippine Fashion Week



You were a former men’s designer, is there a difference between designing for men and women? Do you have to shift your thinking a bit?


Yeah, in a way you do because you are working on curves so that’s one thing. Also, with women, I mean with man, you can’t do so much, but with women, you can do a lot of ornamentation and you could be more creative. So, it’s more challenging to do women’s for me.



Why is it more challenging?


Well, it’s just that you tend to be more creative with color combination and all that with fabric choices and also with menswear, you’re pretty much limited to your fabrics. It has to be flexible, comfortable…It has to feel nice on the body.



Is there a different design sensibility with Filipino designers? What makes you unique?


Filipino designers love to do a lot of textures, that’s one thing. That’s what sets me apart because I am from North America, from Canada, so when I came in I’m more of a minimalist.



You mention that the silhouettes of Balenciaga and Dior inspire your recent collection. Is it just those two iconic labels?


Oh, yeah, ever since I was young, I’ve always looked up old books and history books and I’ve always loved the silhouettes of Dior and especially of Balenciaga. I’m also an architect. I’ve studied architecture prior to becoming a designer.


Noel Crisostomo

Noel Crisostomo at PLDT Canada Philippine Fashion Week



Do you find your architectural background play a part in your designs?


Oh yes. Totally. I love to work on volumes and shapes and silhouettes.


What do you think or hope the mainstream fashion audience have learned from PLDT Canada Philippine Fashion Week? 


Well, I hope that they  [became] more aware of the Filipino talent. The Philippines is not just a third world country, but the [nation] also has a flare of fashion and good taste.



Photography courtesy of Alan Flores/CPFW 2013


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