To say that Cecile Zamora is fashionable would probably be an understatement.
Often clad in an idiosyncratic mix of feminine and masculine, her outfits deftly mix proportions and draw from both under-the-radar labels as well as covetable luxe brands. It’s something she approaches with the clarity of someone who instinctively knows what she likes, albeit unconventional.
“When I was very young, I would already dress differently. My mom used to put me in dresses and I felt uncomfortable,” Zamora muses, explaining how she always felt like a bit of a tomboy with her style.
“I would meet people, and they would remember me because I kind of had a certain look,” she says, explaining how she’d sometimes pair a skirt with a menswear blazer and trainers. Nonetheless, it still doesn’t fully capture her trademark style.
Chameleon of fashion
Zamora has worn almost every hat in the fashion closet, having first started as a designer in the ‘90s after graduating from Parson’s. She tells Lifestyle Asia of her brand Kokur, whose name is both a play on the word “couture,” and also “kokurtina,” which was slang for fashion made out of curtains, and also an ode to Scarlett O’Hara’s gown made of green velvet drapes from Gone with the Wind.
She describes Kokur’s aesthetic as having been heavily influenced by New York streetwear and clubwear. “It was a small hole-in-the-wall in San Juan, but everyone cool went to the store. Richard Gomez was there. It was the height of the Eraserheads and Ely Buendia went too.”
She was also a lifestyle writer for a newspaper, with a degree in journalism, and the sartorial voice behind the blog Chuvaness. While her sons were growing up, the blog gave her a way to express her thoughts while working from home. Now that her sons are a little older, Zamora has reignited a passion of a more musical nature.
“I feel like people who love music have a kind of deepness inside of them,” she shares, noting that it was her friend, and fellow cover girl Mich Dulce who first got her into DJing by taking her to XX XX.
After her first performance in 2018, Zamora was hooked. “Music is life. It puts you in a mood. It puts you in a different place. As a DJ you create the vibe for the people,” she enthuses, favoring a mix of house, disco, and techno in her sets.
And while this may seem like a bit new, it appears Zamora has long been a lover of sound. “I was clubbing when I was studying in New York,” she says, reminiscing how she loved partying at places like Limelight and Webster Hall, enamored with the whole vibe of the club kids, epitomized by McCauley Culkin’s character in Party Monster.
When XX XX closed during the pandemic, Zamora acquired the controllers of the club, and was also gifted the iconic neon sign by the owners. The red sign is now the most striking element of her home’s private bar.
And while DJing may be her passion, Zamora’s day job as CEO of Pepper Lunch also keeps her pretty occupied, doubly so given the challenges of the last few years. “I felt like I had to save my staff. I didn’t take a salary for a little more than a year, just so everyone would get a salary,” she confides. Thankfully, sales have gone back to pre-pandemic levels. “It’s a fun job, and I love the food. I have a good staff, I love going to work, and they love me,” she shares.
A mother of three, Christian, 14, Markus, 19, and Ben, 20, Zamora is a quintessential boy mom. “Luckily they’re boys, and boys raise themselves,” she shares.
“You just need to put guidelines in, like these are the rules. Of course, they’re going to break them. But you need to let them know that this is what you think, and guide them, and say no to certain things,” she notes. She’s equally big on affection. “When they were born, the first thing I wanted them to hear was I love you, so that’s what I said when they were put on my chest. And I just [keep telling them that] I love them.”
Fashion definitely runs in their blood, as she conveys that her sons love getting decked up as much as she does. “They’re like me, but like, boy version,” she jokes.
Nowadays, you can find Zamora in sleek athleisure from brands like Y-3 and Nike x Sacai, or trainers from Balenciaga. Or perhaps androgynous fare from Univers or Thom Browne. She’s made fitness a top priority, and her closet has followed suit. “Before I was into Comme des Garçons, which was more about art and covering. Then when I started working out, I didn’t want to wear layers anymore,” she shares.
Endings are beginnings
When asked what true luxury meant, she recalls something Marc Jacobs had said to her in an interview: “True luxury is about waiting.” And with that sentiment Zamora agrees, believing that the anticipation for an item makes acquiring a piece even more special. Be it an expensive splurge or a limited-edition designer collaboration that only exists for a moment in time.
There is a sense of intention when Zamora approaches the concept of time now. As she endeavors to be present for her boys, to focus on herself, and to up her DJ game. In retrospect she claims, the changes in her life were perhaps God’s way of preparing her for whatever was to come, and allowing her to just follow the path placed in front of her.
And her message to those who may be facing endings is simple – find new beginnings. “The end of something is not the end of the world. It’s a chance to reinvent yourself and find out who you are.”
Photos PATRICK DIOKNO
Creative Direction PAOLO TORIO
Art Direction MARC YELLOW
Sittings Editor CANDY DIZON
Stylist (Mich) STEVEN CORALDE
Stylist (Cecile) MELVIN MOJICA
Makeup AL DE LEON AND OMAR ERMITA FROM MAC
Hair CATS DEL ROSARIO
Shoot Coordination MAE TALAID AND MJ ALMERO