by Edd Fuentes
From a childhood dream to finally living the life of a renowned fashion designer, Jesus Lloren tells us about his journey to success.
Lloren’s designs, known for the perfect marriage of minimalism and sophistication, started out as paper dolls and doodles. “Sometime in Grade 5, I started reading fashion articles in the papers, clipping them and making my own drawings. I proudly showed them to my classmates and friends, but dreaded my parents seeing them,” he recalls.
Apparently, his parents expected him to continue the legacy of his father who was an accountant. Lloren tried to meet his parents’ expectations – they compromised and he ended up taking up B.S. Hotel and Restaurant Administration. Later, however, he realized that the fashion industry is indeed his true calling and thus, he mustered enough courage to shift to B.S. Clothing Technology in U.P. Diliman.
After earning a degree, Jesus first worked with Elite Garments, then for top designer Christian Espiritu. Later he found enough determination and skills to put up his own business, and here the designer admits that it was not easy to make a reputation in the fashion industry. As a beginner, his clients were very few and there were times when he felt strong envy towards the lavish lifestyle of friends.
However, these things did not discourage him. Instead, he considered them as a motivation to excel. “The greatest challenge facing a fashion designer is how to evolve. Continuous learning, experimentation, determination, passion, and an open mind are necessary for progress.”
Lloren had his big break in 1998 when he won the Philippine Young Designers Competition and Concours International des Jeunes Createurs in Paris. The abaca bodice that resembles a refined shiny armour became his winning piece, which also earned him a scholarship at the Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de La Couture Parisienne touted as the alma mater of leading fashion designers such as Yves Henri Donat Mathieu-Saint-Laurent, Issey Miyake, and Valentino Clemente Ludovico Garavani
His experiences and learning in Paris further honed his aesthetic vision and prepared him for making a trademark in the mainstream local fashion. Upon returning to his homeland, Lloren quickly established a reputation as a highly-skilled designer who is able to craft seemingly simple yet technically intricate designs. It was also around that time when he was nominated to head both the Young Designers Guild and the Fashion Design Council of the Philippines.
Heading two fashion associations gave him bigger responsibilities but such roles helped him build industry connections and friendships. He learned valuable lessons which he willing shares with students enrolled in fashion schools: Forget establishing a business right after graduation: “Work with a company or companies first in order to learn the trade. You will know where your strength, your interests, your market or your vision lie.”
After working with an established company or name, “then, you are well-prepared to run a business. Learn more, work more. Passion goes hand in hand with discipline and determination” he added. True enough, the sweet fruit of Lloren’s labor is now evident but he just continues to discover more things and move forward.
Clearly, crafting clothes with timeless beauty has always been the designer’s philosophy, so when asked about where all his unique design concepts are coming from, he shared that he finds inspiration almost everywhere; depression and loneliness even. And this will be evident in the pieces that will be showcased in the upcoming Red Charity Gala.
Organized by society icon Tessa Prieto-Valdes and philanthropist Kaye Tinga, the Red Charity Gala on October 18 will feature the immaculate workmanship of Jesus Lloren to raise funds for the Philippine Red Cross and Assumption High School Batch 1981 Foundation. It will be a 40-piece collection highlighting both architectural and soft and airy pieces inspired by Filipino paintings. “There’ll be a lot of handwork. Some will have historical references,” Jesus explains.
Putting true Filipino artistry on the spotlight for a cause is perhaps one of the most rewarding experiences for a designer who has this keen eye for artistic quality, precision, and style. From paper dolls and doodles, Lloren now proudly brings Filipino design to a global level.
The Red Charity Gala show is directed by Ariel Lozada, fashion styling by Noel Manapat, and hair and make-up by Patrick Rosas.
The show is presented by Downy and Sunlife, supported by Bench, Megaworld, Makati Shangri-la, and Lifestyle Asia. Special thanks to Robert Blancaflor Group, Rustans, Philippine Daily Inquirer and Philippine Star.