Building a name in the fashion industry doesn’t happen overnight, and sometimes, not even over many years. JC Buendia is privy to the hitches and stitches every fashion designer goes through to build a brand of his or her own, and it took more than just a couple of years, two countries, doubts and dilemmas, and lots of books, movies, and music to build his name and his collections.

Like all grand ideas, the best executions start with a concept, a tiny inkling, a simple sketch. JC Buendia started as a pure artistic soul, drawing Disney princesses and the majestic ball gowns they wore to meet their Prince Charming.

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“I’ve always liked sketching female figures,” he reminisces. “I started young, and I would sketch Disney princesses. But I didn’t know what a fashion designer was, coming from a family of four boys. It was a very macho household.”

“I like women who have their own style, and women who mix and match my style with other pieces because that way, I see the versatility of my design. A lot of people came to me for those barong tops and ballgown skirts. One of my clients mixed the barong top with her other stuff and wore it with jeans. I like it when you can use my creations again and again.”

An artist through and through, he is known for being painfully shy and quite the romanticist. He makes heroines from movies and books come alive in his designs, and he lets music weave his fabrics together. If he’s into love songs, his clothes become more romantic; if he’s listening to melancholic music, his designs become more serene.

And when he’s not designing, he is doing his part to make the world a greener place to live in. He is an environment advocate, and has had a couple of tree-planting events where they planted Palawan cherry blossom trees, whose flowers come in white and pink. He believes that it is very doable, not only in the provinces, but here in Manila, as well. “Imagine if we could plant them in one big area; the locals wouldn’t have to go to Japan to see the cherry blossoms. You just have to inspire other people to do the same,” he says. Taking up his time now, too, is this new hip restaurant on Tomas Morato called Poppins, a joint venture with a couple of friends.

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Read the full story on JC Buendia and his foray into the world of fashion inside Asian Dragon Magazine’s September-October issue. Grab your copy from all leading bookstores nationwide or purchase the issue from the Asian Dragon Magazine App, free to download on Google Play Store, iTunes, and Amazon.

[Photographs: Mau Aguasin; Styling: Luis Espiritu Jr.; Makeup: Baba Parma; Hairstyle: Ricky Diokno; Model: Jessica Yang]

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