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20 years later, Mai Mai Cojuangco is back on a billboard

/ 07:10 AM January 19, 2018

With daughter Demi in Paris

Almost two decades later, Mai Mai Cojuangco returns to her roots as a Kamiseta girl—although this time around, it may be more appropriate to refer to her as a Kamiseta woman.

To anyone who grew up in the ’90s, seeing Mai’s billboard reappearance on Edsa feels like a serious case of deja vu.

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Mai, who’s now based in Florence, Italy, as a luxury handbag designer, is back for Kamiseta Skin—the clothing line’s brand extension which debuted late last year.

Mai’s manager Girlie Rodis called her up one day to offer the gig. “It came about in a very natural, organic way,” she recalls. “I was like, ‘Okay, this is cool. Somewhat coming full circle.

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“I’m happy that Kamiseta has branched out this way,” Mai says. “It made perfect sense: dressing up the woman 360 degrees. I did their clothes, and now I’m doing something new, something I wear—my own skin.”

Kamiseta owner Cris Roque figured that a skincare clinic was a natural expansion for the brand.

“We wanted to focus on our Kamiseta customers and how we can further meet their needs,” Cris says.

Kamiseta Skin, just like the clothing brand, acknowledges its market’s desire for beauty services at affordable price points. The Revlite treatment, for brightening, costs P3,000 a session, as does a session of underarm hair removal using the GentleMax Pro.

“We believe that great skin care should be accessible to everyone,” says Cris.

The Kamiseta team worked with an in-house medical director and other board-certified doctors to craft its menu of services, which include noninvasive laser treatments for glowing skin, anti-acne, anti-aging, hair removal, contouring, slimming, lifting, skin rejuvenation and other dermatological treatments.

“The Kamiseta Thermlift, for example, is a gold-standard laser for face-lifting and skin tightening and body contouring, exclusively at Kamiseta Skin Laser Center,” Cris says.

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Since Mai’s return to the fold, much has changed. The original Kamiseta “it” girl has grown up, married, had a kid, become a designer.

What’s it like reconnecting with the brand and the audience?

I love the Kamiseta woman. She works hard for her money, and is happy to treat herself when she can. I can’t represent a brand with different ideals and one that sends false messages, so I am happy that this is the kind of woman we communicate to and with, because I totally get her.

Quite a few years have passed since your original Kamiseta campaign. What has changed with you since then?

Everything! I went through my life phases: being a wife, a working woman, mother. I’m certainly more grateful now, also a better fighter, and more focused than I have ever been.

What are the milestones you’ve achieved since?

The adventure of the self. Converting frustrations and experiences into more concrete things like the tech startup I put up and haven’t given up on, being self-sufficient in life, learning to live in a country far from my family, being a fair and patient mother, deepening my faith and spirituality, letting go of things that don’t serve me anymore… My milestones are my journeys.

And I keep pushing, creating and converting my passions into projects and tangible things like my handbags. I’m investing in my future, and making sure I am great at it, for my daughter and for myself.

When you were first tapped to do the Kamiseta campaign in your teens, what did that feel like?

My sister, China, had been doing the Kamiseta campaigns already. At some point, they asked me to get involved, as they wanted to do something different, and in Florence. Believe me, it was a production, and there were thorough preparations for that campaign. I remember, Kamiseta even organized a one-night acting workshop with Italian actors who were part of the ad. It was a super fun and memorable experience. And I am truly surprised at how many people still remember that ad after almost two decades.

You kind of exploded onto the scene as the “it” girl of the time. Why do you think you connected so well with the Kamiseta market?

I can safely assume that it was the fashionista angle that was “given” to me at that time, and perhaps also the age. I was in college when I did that campaign almost 20 years ago. I’ve never followed trends. Always classic, with a personal touch, which is so very Kamiseta.

Fashion-wise, I’ve always dressed up with contrasting, uncommon, and probably unmatching elements—like today, it’s multiple ear piercing with dainty draped dresses. And that’s me.

But that dress I own, I can wear today or 15 years later, because it’s a classic. Which is really the style of Kamiseta: classic, functional and discreet. You wear the clothes, and not vice versa.

And now, some years later, you’re talking to the same market. How do you think the demographic has evolved over the years? And does their evolution reflect yours?

It’s a very complex question, actually, so I will try to make this as simple as possible. I believe that we are all constantly evolving. It’s the difficult parts and the challenges in our lives that renew us, and surviving those times makes us more confident, and more like our true selves, and as a consequence, having a greater appreciation of life.

Having said that, over the years, from all the good and the bad, I’ve grown and have become more sure of myself and my choices.

So, about my evolution, though I never like to generalize, I think it’s highly probable that the Kamiseta client who bought an outfit at the store during her college years would, 20 years later, be a stronger, more experienced person, more self-aware, and more comfortable in her own skin and style. So, yes, I believe that this evolution is something we have in common.

Celebrating her 40th birthday
in Florence

Now you’re the face of Kamiseta Skin. What services did you try?

I tried the Signature Facial (a brightening facial), and it was exactly what I needed. I had just arrived from Italy, and needed a bit of rest for the super hectic schedule ahead, so it was the perfect treat I gave myself.

How would you describe the experience?

It was a “me moment” of complete rest, shutdown, pampering, hydrating, restful experience.

What’s unique about Kamiseta Skin?

The experience itself. The place has a very warm and cozy feeling. It’s more like a luxurious home, but one with board-certified doctors and state-of-the-art equipment. It didn’t make me feel that I needed to be fixed.

What is your beauty regimen?

I tend to have combination to dry skin, depending on the climate. So, in the morning, I wash my face simply with water, toner, when I remember or when I’m not rushing, or when I have one, serum when necessary, then hydrating cream, and sunblock SPF 30 or 50 on top, depending on the season.

And when my skin is dry, during winter, I add a bit of oil with my face cream. I’m all about hydration.

How do you normally care for your skin?

I hydrate a lot, and wear SPF most of the time. And I get a lot of sleep.

What beauty secret did you learn from your mom that still applies to you today?

From a very young age, she would tell us sisters to put cream on our dry skin. That’s pretty much how it began. No secrets or special tricks, unfortunately.

What are your fave beauty and fragrance products?

I like to experiment and try different brands and products. I especially look for hyaluronic acid on products, and have tried a few. This year I’ve used Perricone, Kamiseta, Teoxane, First Aid Beauty, VMV Hypoallergenics, Neal’s Yard Remedies—products that are all about hydrating and repairing, from the balm I use as a makeup remover to the cream after.

Fragrance? I don’t like perfumed creams or strong fragrances. I like those that you sense only when you’re near someone, and dislike those that you can smell two meters away. I am currently alternating between Histoire D’Orangers and Splash by Astier de Villatte. I used to be a Fracas and L’Heure Bleue person, but, as of late, I really prefer the lightly scented, fresh kind of fragrance.

Would you call yourself an unfussy, low-key person? Or do you prioritize maintenance and prevention?

I hate the feeling of discomfort with anything and everything. This applies to the way I dress, and the way I want my skin to feel. I guess this has been an advantage for me, because given the skin that I have, I would be utterly uncomfortable without hydration. This is my prevention at the end of the day.

After being on planes, when I get back I do that facial at Kamiseta, or at home with a mask because it does just get really tired and dry.

I’m fussy in the sense that I check labels and am interested in knowing about the products I put on my skin, and I want to make sure it’s good. But I certainly don’t spend a fortune buying the entire line. Plus, my rule is to finish the jar before I buy another one. So, I am fussy, but low-key, in that sense.

Kamiseta Skin, 3/F Ayala Malls The 30th, 30 Meralco Ave., Pasig; tel. 5147336 or 09176258438

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