Congratulations on the launch of your book “FASHION. Filipino, Hollywood. The World.” It looks absolutely incredible; can you share a synopsis with us?
“FASHION. Filipino. Hollywood. The World.” highlights some outstanding Filipino fashion designers who have made us proud to make it on the international fashion scene. They have gained the respect and admiration not only in their home country, the Philippines, but also all over the world. They have captured the eye and appreciation of many and are highly regarded in their field.
The book also showcases my favorite quotes from some of the Hollywood stars whom I have interviewed through the years as a Hollywood journalist.
You have an exceptional background in writing. Can you tell us about your background?
I was born and raised in Kamuning, Quezon City, Philippines and took up Journalism at the University of Santo Tomas. I have been an editor of the school paper from high school to college and have always loved to write so I pursued it as a career. I worked in Times Journal as an entertainment journalist and when I immigrated to the U.S. continued my career as such.
I became the first Filipina member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) that presents the Golden Globes annually in 2008. I also became an Executive Secretary, a Treasurer and Board Member of the HFPA.
Can you elaborate how your book is a tribute to Filipino fashion?
It is a tribute to Filipino fashion because I highlighted some of the best Filipino fashion designers whose work also are seen and worn on the red carpet all around the world, not just in Hollywood. You can see their outstanding creations worn by Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce, Britney Spears, Sofia Vergara, Mariah Carey, as well as beauty queens who have won the Miss Universe title among others. So, showcasing them in my book which is a first of its kind is my way of paying tribute to the Filipino geniuses of fashion.
How did you and your publisher Bessie Badilla go about selecting Filipino designers?
We considered the Filipino fashion designers whose creations are always seen on the red carpet, designers who are always worn by celebrities. They have to have very good quality photos that are not only high resolution but also professionally taken. They should have answered all my questions for their respective stories.
How was it transitioning from writing about Hollywood to writing about fashion?
It was a natural transition since I am exposed covering awards shows, film festivals and premieres and I always also cover the red-carpet scenes all over the world.
What did you take from the experience of speaking with all of these designers and getting to know them more?
I found out that they are all proud of being Filipino and their country and representing the Philippines on the fashion global stage.
They all shared with me that their choices in design and materials are also influenced by their culture, upbringing and experience as Filipinos and they are proud to be able to incorporate this on their work. It is something that cannot be denied as Asian designers because it is already part of their DNA.
There is no doubt that Fashion has been deeply impacted by Filipino influence, how do you think the fashion industry can better highlight the contributions of a Filipino designer?
The fashion industry can better highlight the contributions of Filipino designers by making stylists all over the world aware of their designs, by inviting them and their celebrity models or spokespersons to walk the global red carpet, by welcoming them to the various fashion shows of the world and by publicizing the quality and unique artistry of their designs.
Your book is now available to purchase on Amazon, can you share with us what the process from the very beginning to now was like? What did you enjoy the most about the process?
I began working on the book last 2020 with my ace red carpet photographer Sthanlee B. Mirador. We gathered a lot of photos from several years and I gave him a list of Hollywood celebrities I thought were outstanding on the red carpet and whom I have interviewed through the years as a Hollywood journalist.
I interviewed all the Filipino fashion designers by email from the Philippines to Dubai to Los Angeles to Chicago. I collected all the photos they submitted to me and turned them in to my publisher, Bessie Badilla, a former Balenciaga model. She is also the layout artist for the book as she learned the software in a couple of months. She was the one who made the final decision on the photos because I trusted her vision and her knowledge on fashion.
My husband, author-journalist Ruben V. Nepales, was my editor and he made sure everything was perfect before it went to print.
Fashion photographer Filbert Diego Kung contributed some photos as well and photographed me as well for the book and the publicity materials.
What I enjoyed about the process is that the bond that we all created simply strengthened our relationships and friendships and we were all passionate about doing the book and making it the best that we could offer. The icing on the cake is when our readers and buyers extend their delight and are very impressed after seeing the book.
I think the best compliment I got was from Tim Gray, editor of Variety magazine, when he wrote me a note and said, “I am overwhelmed! And I am blown away! I looked through the book — completely blown away! You should be very proud!”
You can find Janet Susan R. Nepales’ book on Amazon: