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The Celebrity Stylists Behind Your Favorite Stars' Wardrobes

Meet the talented individuals who dress Liza Soberano, Kathryn Bernardo, and Nadine Lustre.
PHOTO: (KATHRYN) Instagram/kimiyap, (LIZA) Instagram/perrytabora, (NADINE) Instagram/myrrhlaoto

Most people perceive celebrity styling as a glamorous, exciting job, especially since it means rubbing elbows with the rich and the famous. And to a certain extent, it actually is: You form a personal relationship with your clients, you become instrumental in cultivating the image they project to the public, and you get to participate in the preparation that ensues for special events—all while having access to some incredibly gorgeous clothing.

It's not all roses and butterflies, of course. Styling requires patience, planning, quick thinking, and a lot of manual labor, as these celebrity stylists will attest to. Cosmo.ph talked to Kimi and Boop Yap, Myrrh Lao To, and Perry Tabora to find out what it's really like to dress the local entertainment industry's leading actresses.

PERRY TABORA

Think Liza Soberano can do no wrong? You can partly thank Perry for that. Aside from making sure the actress is always picture-perfect, he's also responsible for the wardrobes of Janella Salvador and Sofia Andres.


What motivated you to pursue a career in styling?

I have always loved fashion even as a kid. In grade school and high school, I drew designs of dresses on the back of my notebooks during class. When college came along, it was pretty obvious that I wanted to major in Fashion Design. I took up Fashion Design and Merchandising in De La Salle - College of St. Benilde. It was during this period that I became familiar with styling as a career; it really intrigued me because it was something that was completely new to me. I consider myself lucky that I have supportive parents who encouraged me to pursue my passion in my chosen field.

How did you get your start in the industry?

I began my styling career as an associate under Ton Lao. During this three-year stint, I learned so much from him—not just about the industry, but also on effective and efficient ways of working. After this, I ventured into a solo career with my very first client, Liza Soberano, who was being launched as part of Star Magic Batch 2013 during that time. Eventually, I began working with other celebrities such as Robi Domingo, Janella Salvador, and Zanjoe Marudo for various projects.

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How did you cultivate your sense of style?

From when I travel and see how people dress in different cultures, to the color palette of an art piece and even the interior design of a place. It really can come from anywhere, and it's also something that evolved from trying different trends and styles throughout the years.

What qualities do you think are non-negotiable in order to succeed as a stylist?

You need to be passionate about what you do, and you also have to accept that success will not happen overnight—you need to be willing to work hard and to persevere through the challenges. But the most important thing is you should never, ever doubt yourself and your strength, because it is you, and nobody else, who will make things happen for yourself.

What's the signature #styledbyPerryTabora look?

If I could describe my overarching aesthetic, it would be youthful yet timeless. For ladies, I make sure that there is always an understated elegance to their looks, and for guys, my style is always sleek and clean.

How involved are your clients in choosing the outfits they wear?

My clients are always involved in the creative process of creating their looks. After all, they need to like what they are wearing in order for them to feel confident about themselves. So in all the looks that we do, the personal style of the client is always incorporated—this is what makes their looks unique.

How do you bridge the gap between what the client wants and what her management wants?

Every celebrity has a unique image and it is your job as the stylist to make sure that the celebrity's look is always aligned with that "packaging." So from there, you also incorporate the client's personal style and the look that is appropriate for them. That is usually the process when you are putting together an outfit for a client.

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What is the most challenging part about your job?

The most challenging part of being a stylist is the brutal hours, especially during shoots which can vary from just a couple of hours to three days. Preparing for these shoots are also a challenge because you do not just get pullouts from one place—you have to utilize different sources located in various parts of the metro, and with Manila traffic, this can take up your whole day!

On the flipside, what is the most fulfilling aspect of what you do?

What I love most about my job is that it never gets boring. You are always hustling from one place to another, and you are juggling several projects simultaneously. It is always a challenge to keep up with everything, but this is what makes the job exciting.

What's your favorite fashion memory from your career?

My favorite fashion memory is when I styled Liza Soberano and Zanjoe Marudo for last year's Star Magic Ball and they both won Best Dressed. Liza's look, in particular, was really trending on social media for weeks, which was pretty overwhelming but also rewarding as it made all the hard work that we did in preparing for the ball worth it.

What's the craziest thing you had to do while on the job?

During endorsement and TV commercial shoots, there are times when new requirements will be given to you at the last minute—usually when all the places where you usually pull out/buy clothes are closed. This is when you will really need to bank on you and your team's resourcefulness. Even when a dress is [custom] designed for a big red carpet, you need to ensure that the dress will fit them perfectly. [And because] celebrities have very busy schedules, you sometimes need to bring the dress to them, even if it's out of town.

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How do you make sure an outfit pops and stands out on television or in photographs?

Incorporate a key piece (whether it be a top, pants, or accessory) that stands out and then build the outfit around that piece. Also, you need to know the colors and the types of fabric that work best on TV or on camera to make sure that the outfit really stands out.

What is the styling secret or trick that you had to learn about the hard way?

Wearing the proper undergarments for an outfit is important to avoid any wardrobe malfunction from happening.

What's the secret to an Instagram-worthy look?

Stay true to your personal style but don't be afraid to experiment with different styles or trends as well.

Who, in your opinion, is the most stylish woman to have ever lived?

Jane Birkin, because her classic style is chic and effortless.

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KIMI AND BOOP YAP

There's a reason why Kathryn Bernardo always makes the best dressed list. Actually, make that two reasons—these sisters have been instrumental in cultivating the actress' look, while dressing Erich Gonzales, too.


What motivated you to pursue a career in styling?

When we did our first job as stylists, it didn't feel like work at all because we truly enjoyed doing it. We're firm believers that if you love your job and you're passionate about it, great things can happen, so we decided to seriously pursue it. What further motivated us is really the incredible people that we get to work with. Our clients become our closest friends, and we meet people in the industry who come from all walks of life. For us, styling is never boring and work feels like home because we are always working together.

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How did you get your start in the industry?

We initially wanted to be fashion designers, which is why we took up Fashion Design and Merchandising. While we were studying, one of our close friends gave us an opportunity to work on a styling job, and we thought that this is something that we could both do. We decided from that point to shift to styling instead. It also works that we both have a background in designing, so when something needs on-the-spot alteration or if we need to choose which fabric would best suit the design and body frame of our client, we know what to do and what to go for.

How did you cultivate your sense of style?

We have been doing this job for close to a decade already, and throughout the years, especially after being immersed in fashion and in this industry, our awareness for what will work for different body frames was amplified. We became very keen on picking the perfect color, cloth, silhouette, or trend for different types of celebrities—different in terms of age, imaging, and preferences. We also believe that not all trends should be followed, so we've mastered the art of mixing classic pieces with what’s current. 

What qualities do you think are non-negotiable in order to succeed as a stylist?

You need to know how to relate well with different types of people, because the result of your work also hinges on the work that they do. You also need to be very organized in all aspects—scheduling, your styling tools, your options, and your time. When you're a stylist, you need to be ready for anything because something always happens at the last minute—a zipper might break, the outfit may match the color or the couch, or your client might be wearing the same thing as another celebrity! 

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What's the signature #styledbyKimandBoopYap look?

Chic, feminine, and forward. As much as possible, we want our clients to look different every time they are seen. 

How involved are your clients in choosing the outfits they wear?

We base the outfits that we come up with on the personality of our clients. It's also our job as their stylists to make sure that they feel confident and comfortable in what they are wearing, so we like to get them involved in the process of creating the look. We consider ourselves very blessed that we have clients who are a breeze to work with and who also trust us completely.

How do you bridge the gap between what the client wants and what her management wants?

As a stylist, you need to know how to compromise, because it's not just you or the client who decides on what to wear. You need to respect the fact that the client's management also has an idea on what is appropriate, based on how they would like to package the client to the public. We're lucky that we get along with both our clients and their management team, and both also trust us and listen to our input.

What is the most challenging part about your job?

It would probably be the short amount of time that you're usually given to provide requirements for all sorts of projects—appearances, shoots, product endorsements, etc. People will expect you to always make it work, regardless of the circumstances, so you really need to be ready with a solution to any issue that may come up and bring a lot of options.

On the flipside, what is the most fulfilling aspect of what you do?

When we style our clients, we initially have a vision in our head of what we want them to look like. This is especially true for big red carpet appearances, where you really have to think about how your client will stand out from the crowd. And when that vision comes into fruition and your client looks amazing on the red carpet, that is probably one of the most fulfilling moments with what we do, because it means that you did your job and that all the work that you put into it is worth it. 

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What's your favorite fashion memory from your career?

We have several, but if we had to choose one, it would probably be when we dressed Kathryn Bernardo for the first time for the Star Magic Ball. She looked incredible in that custom-made Michael Cinco gown and she also won Best Dressed during that night. 

What's the craziest thing you had to do while on the job?

We are very lucky that we haven't really had any crazy issues that we had to deal with during a styling job. As we always say, it pays to always be ready for anything, so every time an unexpected problem arises, you can promptly deal with it and make it work.

How do you make sure an outfit pops and stands out on television or in photographs?

It really boils down to how unique the outfit is and how your taste in fashion resonates with the audience. We try to create a unique "fashion identity" for each of our clients, that when they see an outfit, they would know that it's something that Kath would wear, for example. As their stylist, one of your tasks is to make sure that your client's style is distinctive and is always appropriate for the event or shoot that she is wearing it for.

What's the secret to an Instagram-worthy look?

Aside from a well put-together outfit, the background also needs to be perfect. Most importantly, [you need] a smiling client who is confident and happy with her outfit. That’s the secret. 

Who, in your opinion, is the most stylish woman to have ever lived?

Audrey Hepburn.

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MYRRH LAO TO

Glossy, glamorous, and statement-making—that's how we'd like to describe the #mesmyrrhized look. And really, you only need to see Nadine Lustre, Sarah Lahbati, and Ylona Garcia to understand this stylist's aesthetic.

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What motivated you to pursue a career in styling?

I have been into fashion since I was a kid. I loved the idea of how dressing is an outlet for self-expression.

How did you get your start in the industry?

In 2008, I became Pam Quiñones' assistant. It was the perfect timing, I guess, because she was looking for a full-time assistant. I was with her for two years and went freelance in 2010.

How did you cultivate your sense of style?

I would say that my sense of style is continually evolving, but cultivating my style principles now happens through my travels, through movie references, and through the things I still learn from the actual day-to-day styling jobs.

What qualities do you think are non-negotiable in order to succeed as a stylist?

Good work ethics will get you far. Arrive on time (or early), treat the people you work with as professionally as possible, and never say negative things about other people. Additionally, even if clients don't say it, bringing a ton of options is [tantamount] to assuring them that you got this.

What's the signature #mesmyrrhized look?

Understated elegance that's interesting and reflective of my client's personality. I always make sure my clients are perceived as confident and mesmerizing.

How involved are your clients in choosing the outfits they wear?

I treat every look as a collaborative effortfrom my style team to the celebrity and even the entire glam team. I make sure it speaks of both the personality of the client and the signature #mesmyrrhized look we want to achieve.

How do you bridge the gap between what the client wants and what her management wants?

We always take into consideration what the celebrity wants and what their management requires. The primary goal is to show their personality and their proper image with curated looks that we think speak of both. We usually marry inputs and come up with ideas that are fresh and aspirational but always wearable, and can be understood easily by the market each celebrity belongs to.

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What is the most challenging part about your job?

Every day is a challenge. Coming up with new and fascinating ideas that speak of our brand is what makes it worth the work. Though we say that putting together looks for a specific celebrity is never easy, it is fun and we are happily embracing each chance we get to work with such creative individuals.

On the flipside, what is the most fulfilling aspect of what you do?

First, being able to inspire others with what we come up with, and telling them that your body should not limit you with how freely you can express yourself by dressing up. Second, to be working with such passionate people who are the best at their craft and to be surrounded by equally genius creative people helping you achieve that vision.

What's your favorite fashion memory from your career?

A lot, actuallyAngel Locsin in that black mermaid Val Taguba dress for Pilipinas Got Talent, Julia Montes in that white Albert Andrada gown for the Star Magic Ball, KZ Tandingan in that black Brit Tripudio number for the Soul Supremacy concert, Nadine Lustre in that red velvet look by Thian Rodriguez for an event. Ylona Garcia in LightShineWhite for her first Star Magic Ball, Kira Balinger in that amazing Kaye Morales look for that ASAP BFF5 prod. Claudine Barretto in Albert Andrada for Julia Barretto's debut... I have a lot in mind!

What's the craziest thing you had to do while on the job?

One of my clients isn't really a fan of embellishments. After a series of meetings and fittings for a big event, the dress made for her to wear arrived with Swarovski crystals on the waist. With full confidence and believing that I have her 100 percent trust, I had to talk her into wearing it. She ended up winning the Star of The Night that night!

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How do you make sure an outfit pops and stands out on television or in photographs?

I make the person wearing it pop, not the outfit. It's too easy to get lost in a pool of celebrities, and I figured that it happens when you think too much about the garment and not the person.

What is the styling secret or trick that you had to learn about the hard way?

During my first freelance year, I once turned pair of opaque tights into a long-sleeved dance unitard.

What's the secret to an Instagram-worthy look?

Your muse should look happyand you can only achieve that beautiful OOTD when the subject is actually happy. So build a happy, healthy working relationship with themmake each styling session something they always look forward to.

Who, in your opinion, is the most stylish woman to have ever lived?

It's a tie between Kate Moss and Beyoncé.

Follow Patricia on Instagram.