Bringing together fashion and art to cultivate one’s sense of style at an early age.
Art Lounge Manila is once again working with Robbie Santos to bring fashion and art together with the younger set in mind.
In A Day at the Atelier, pieces from Vares Jeune — Robbie Santos’s couture line for kids — serve as wearable canvases for artist Migs Villanueva’s paintings.
After all, when it comes to nurturing an appreciation for art, it’s never too early to start. Likewise, parents can cultivate their kids’ sense of style from an early age. This belief is at the core of Vares Jeune’s brand philosophy.
“Vares Jeune is bespoke luxury. It is a reflection of the child’s parents’ taste that would prompt him or her to wear the label. I advocate fashion that is beautiful and durable, a stark contrast to today’s fast fashion,” Santos explains. “I love seeing kids in wonderful outfits, whether dressy or casual, while at the same time being their usual precocious selves.”
Santos’s little clients come to him for all kinds of special occasions—whenever they’re celebrating their birthdays, going to parties, or attending Halloween and Christmas events. Fashion is self-expression, and Santos takes his junior clients’ wishes as seriously as he would for any adult client. “Because we are custom-made-to-order, we make anything to the child and their parents’ delight,” Santos says. “For the child who wishes to have unique and special clothes, we are the brand who can help them achieve that.”
As someone whose art revolves around kids, Migs Villanueva is the perfect collaborator for this collection. A woman of many talents, the three-time Palanca Award winner ventured into visual art under the iconic artist Mauro “Malang” Santos’s tutelage. Her work is instantly recognizable thanks to her signature depiction of children’s faces using only three dots for the eyes and mouth. Nevertheless, she is able to convey the nuances of emotion through body language and the shape of the dots themselves, from a shy, guileless stare to a delighted smile.
This approach instantly gives her work a “kawaii” quality — whether it’s rendered in colorful pastels or muted tones, Villanueva’s paintings never fail to convey the joy, exuberance, and innocence of childhood.
When asked who her subjects are, Villanueva says, “I really don’t paint specific children, unless it’s commissioned work. The kids in my painting are a composite of all the children I have known, including myself, from what I remember as a child. Through the years I’ve depicted all sorts of personalities of kids in my art, and the moods and attitudes somehow mirror my own at the time of doing the work, or what I dig up from my memory bank.”
Small wonder then, that each of Villanueva’s paintings takes the audience back to their own childhoods, or brings young loved ones to mind. Her aesthetic lends itself perfectly to kids’ fashion, and Villanueva is delighted to work with this new medium.
“The idea of having a runway show inspired me a lot. It’s a long-lost dream to be a designer,” she says. “We had a designer relative when I was a kid, whom I admired; and I would show my design drawings to him. I thought I wanted to be a designer. So, having this opportunity to work with Robbie is such a joy. Really inspiring.”
When asked what makes her series a fit for design on textile, she says, “I suppose any print design can have a place in textile or fashion. Even so, I tried to paint images that are more age-appropriate. Sometimes I had doubts whether my usual ‘art’ look would be ok for such little girls and boys. I took that into consideration. So there are a few different themes I used for the collection.”
Given the paints Villanueva used, the pieces in the collection are somewhere between wearable and mixed-media art. “The clothes the artist and I collaborated on may be worn, but they have to be washed delicately due to the painting on the garment,” Santos explains. “I think the clothes have to be worn and photographed on the child once, then have it stored or framed for posterity and for its added value.”
The look was to mimic a chic and busy atelier with different elements like drapes of fabrics flowing all over, patterns hanging on a rack, to an old sewing machine as the exhibit centerpiece. Displayed all around were the paintings of Migs Villanueva while focal points of the exhibition highlighted some of the painted Vares Jeune pieces. Art Lounge Manila’s Cindel Tiaussas curated the exhibition while Tedrick Yau of IMPRINT Media Group directed the fashion show.
On the day of the event, Art Lounge Manila worked with One Hundred Ways Atelier and Early Learning Center to provide the kid models a fun time while getting ready for the show. This establishment is a beautiful learning environment for children and families located in Molito Lifestyle Center, Alabang. It offers nursery classes, creative enrichment programs, open artplay and premium parties. It is committed to inspire and build a culture of joyful learning and honoring the beauty of childhood.
Even after the exhibition, Art Lounge Manila has decided to accept commissioned works on Vares Jeune pieces with paintings by Migs Villanueva. Worn once and then treasured forever, the clothes from A Day in the Atelier would make a fitting first piece in a child’s own wardrobe and art collection. And should the child grow up to be a connoisseur, this may well be the most personally meaningful work of art they own as the years go by.
A Day in the Atelier was a joyful celebration of art, fashion, and childhood that enchanted grown-ups and kids alike.
Banner photo courtesy of Art Lounge Manila and IMPRINT Media Group.