Liz Uy: From fashion editor to presidential stylist

By Ces Oreña Drilon, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 28 2010 06:31 PM | Updated as of Jun 29 2010 09:49 AM

Liz Uy bringing clothes for President-elect Benigno Aquino III into his house in Times Street

MANILA, Philippines - During the election campaign, incoming President Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino III’s wardrobe staples were the trademark Cory yellow T-shirt and jeans, and plain black short-sleeved polo with a tiny yellow ribbon woven on the breast worn over slacks.

But when he assumes the presidency on June 30, the newly-elected President will have to fold away his campaign uniform for a wardrobe more suitable to the needs of his office.

During the campaign, part of Noynoy’s charm that endeared him to the masses was in his easygoing, approachable and everyman appearance.

The candidate was often seen mounting the stage, pulling up his “mommy” jeans and tugging at the sleeves of his T-shirt, as he lost weight owing to the rigors of the campaign. He seemed unconcerned about style compared to his better-dressed rivals, Erap Estrada and Manny Villar.

Liz Uy, Preview Magazine’s fashion editor-at-large is part of a team that will help style the new President. Uy was last seen in the movie “Noy” helping then candidate Noynoy dress up for a TV advertisement. (Click here for video about this article.)

The magazine editor, who has been with the top fashion magazine, “Preview,” for 6 years now, is also known as a stylist to the stars, having assisted Noynoy's youngest sister, talkshow host and actress Kris Aquino, TV and movie star Bea Alonso, and TV and movie star John Lloyd Cruz, with whom she was once linked.

Liz, Paul and JC

Uy says the demands of the office is prompting the President to give much more thought to his wardrobe with help from professionals like her. She, along with designers Paul Cabral and JC Buendia, are part of a team that will oversee his needs in the sartorial department.

Cabral has made clothes for Noynoy’s mother, the late former President Cory Aquino, while Buendia designed the barong Tagalog worn by President-elect Aquino during his proclamation by Congress last June 9.

Uy also picked out the Italian-branded shoes Aquino wore during his proclamation, a gift, sources say, from sister Kris. It almost resulted in a faux pas; good thing, Senator Chiz Escudero spotted the price tag at the soles of the pair, before the soon-to-be President-elect was ushered out of his holding room to be proclaimed.

The original pair, which Uy picked out, were returned because they were a size too big, and those who delivered the replacement failed to remove the price tag. Sources close to the Aquino family say it was a blessing Noynoy did not see the price tags, or Kris would have gotten a scolding from her kuya for the expensive gift.

Liz Uy (file photo)

'No vanity'

Uy says the styling team was formed to oversee the President’s wardrobe needs so he can focus on the more important tasks of his job. “Now that he's the leader of the country, it is important for him to put his best foot forward, including appearance wise. His approachability will always be there, regardless of what he's wearing. P. Noy has no vanity. I'm here to help put together a working wardrobe so that he can solely focus on the big responsibilities ahead. There is a time and place for everything. There will be casual occasions, of course, but there will also be meetings with world leaders, and he would have to look formal and as dignified. He's now the figurehead of the Philippines. He needs to reflect a progressive developing country. What I'm saying is that at the end of the day, people need to be proud that he is our leader and how great he looks."

Uy says the team will highlight the President’s unique personal traits in planning out his wardrobe, assuring that they will retain his simplicity and unpretentious attitude about clothes. “We have taken into consideration his individuality--he is approachable, very pragmatic, he is humble, not pretentious, not frivolous. Based on that, the fabric, tailoring, color, and the accessories (ties, shoes, watch etc.) should define him.”

Uy singles out one particular asset of Noynoy that they will accentuate. "His height and his frame. We (the team) can make him look more statuesque. "

She also assures the new wardrobe will not in any way detract from the President’s personality. “Bearing his new position in mind, everything he wears will be dictated by his personality.“

Uy reveals Noynoy had a list of do's and don'ts with respect to his wardrobe, but declined to reveal them. “Yes, of course, he would indicate his preferences and I would respect them.”

The yellow ribbon

She did disclose, however, that President-elect Aquino has instructed the team to include the yellow ribbon or variations of it in his barong Tagalogs. Uy says they may include the iconic ribbon in the details like embroideries on the sleeves or cuffs. The President will also wear suits, depending on the occasion, and will opt to put a yellow-ribbon pin on the lapel of his coat.

And to those who dismiss fashion as nothing but frivolity, Uy reveals her philosophy when asked if she believed whether the clothes make the man or vice-versa? “Philosophy: Fashion isn't always frivolous, it can be powerful. It's both. The man definitely makes the clothes, the clothing is an enchanced version of the personality. He is the leader of the country and the clothing must reflect that. “

Uy, herself a fashion plate, considers the task for the next six years a highlight of her budding career. “It's a wonderful challenge for me (with Paul Cabral and JC Buendia). Coming from a (fashion) magazine background, I'm used to dealing with trends and what's new. This is a totally different angle."

This time, her subject will not just be gracing the pages of fashion magazines, but the front pages of local and international newspapers.

Uy says she will be early at the Quirino Grandstand, and while fussing over the Aquino family to make sure nothing is out of place, she will be donning a vintage Slim’s (Salvacion Lim-Higgins) terno on her date with history.