Monica Figueroa talks about her unique inspirations, why she thinks she’s a pair of stylish ballerina flats, and why Cebu is a lot more fashionable than most people give it credit for.
A designer with a penchant for the whimsical butsophisticated, MonicaFigueroa has beensketching sincesecondary school. “Ienjoyed sketchingshoes, people, figuresand the like,” sherecalls. “A friend had seen my work andsuggested I get into shoe design, and Istarted doing it professionally until 2007.”
The result is her line MonicaFig, which features a variety of designsthat range from heels inspired froman artichoke, to another by mythical sea creatures– specifically the local “shokoy,” a scaly mermaid-like being that we can’t seem to find an Englishtranslation for. “I don’t think I have asignature look, because I refuse to stickto one. My designs, more often than not,spring from inspirations that varies fromcollection to collection. One thing is forcertain though—I veer away from thepredictable. I suppose you could say that my signature is to be unique.”
Despite the creative heels she’sproduced over the years, Monica actuallyconsiders herself a pair of ballerina flats. “I have loved them for as long asI can remember. In fact, I was featured in a weekend magazine because I justhad one too many pairs of ballet shoes.” That’s probably why her next line will feature a line of flats– “I think it’s time to go back to my first love.”
Although the half-German, half-Filipinadesigner is making a name for herselfin Manila, she grew up in Cebu andfrequently visits her hometown for aholiday. We ask her about what shethinks of the city’s fashion scene, andhow she plans to bring that identitywith her as she continues on herthriving career.
What do you think about the stateof Cebu’s fashion consciousness?
I had never thought that Cebu hada small group that appreciatesfashion and accessories. To myknowledge, Cebu is in fact one ofthe best accessories manufacturersin the Philippines—we have quite agood number of manufacturers andexporters who have been around forsome time, and they are incrediblyamazing at what they do. As for thefashion bit, my sentiments are the same. I reckon it’s got a lot to do withthe fact that Cebu has such a laidbackfeel—we do have a lovely city, yes, butwe do also have our beaches withinclose proximity, which creates this“beachy” relaxed mood. In fact, I feellike I am on holiday every time I’m inCebu! It’s inevitable—when in Cebu,one feels like putting on a summerdress, a pair of sunnies and somesandals, just like going to Brighton orthe Hamptons for a weekend getaway.But this doesn’t make Cebuanos anyless fashionable. Take a Cebuanoto a social event, and they are justas stylish as any person outside ofCebu. Contrary to what everyonethinks, Cebuanos do know—we simplychoose not to make it our priority.We’d rather talk about the sun than go on a lengthy discussion about Dolce& Gabbana being tried in court forevading taxes.
How would you compare the industry of Cebu and Manila?
We all know thatManila is the center of everything— business, finance, fashion, and the like.Cebu may be a laidback little islandas opposed to Manila, where the pacemay be relatively quicker, but Cebuhas a bevy of talents left and right whoare making and have made a namefor themselves, not only in Manila butglobally. That’s an advantage, isn’t it?
What are your plans for the future,>and how would you relate it to Cebu?
My plan is to give retail a try—crossing my fingers, and toes. I am working on a collaboration with a Cebu-basedaccessories designer and manufactureras well. Also, using materials that are“proudly Pinoy”—I suppose this will notonly help encourage aspiring talents togive design a try, but also help promoteCebu, and its talent and capabilities.