When word got around that Zara was coming to Cebu, the city’s unified response was: It’s about damn time!
To say that the store’s grand launch was much anticipated would be a gross understatement. Imagine then the surprise of everyone in town when—after some people had already gotten their outfits ready as they waited for their invitations in the mail, while others were still trying to score theirs—the store just opened without hype or fanfare or the typical exclusive preview for a select few. We thought that was a curious approach, but then again, Zara owner Amancio Ortega snagged the third spot on Forbes’ recent billionaires list, so we certainly were in no position to tell him what to do.
Those who had been looking forward to a party were not disappointed, though, because Stores Specialists Inc. (SSI), the exclusive distributor of Zara in the Philippines, led by executive vice president Anton Huang, hosted one anyway. The chic affair took place on March 14 at the renowned Abaca Group’s Tavolata. And while it may have coincided with Zara’s opening, the event was really in celebration of and gratitude for the warm welcome SSI had received in Cebu so far with the recent openings of its other brands, including Gap, F&F and Muji.
On the day of the cocktails, we were having every woman’s perpetual quandary of not having anything to wear; and as Zara had conveniently opened that very day, we were among the eager beavers who made it to the store that morning. We weren’t alone in our search for a last-minute outfit though, as we ran into half of that evening’s guests at the store. At the cashier, we queued up right behind Anna Hyatt of the Abaca Group who said she was shopping both for her and her 15-year-old daughter, Reona. We expressed surprise at a teenager who was perfectly content with having her mom shop for her. “I know her style and she trusts my taste,” Anna said. She turned out to be right because both mom and daughter proved that style was in the genes as they won SSI’s Style DNA award that night.
The Chic Couple award was a no-brainer and went to Derek and Mary Anne Arculli. Teresin Mendezona, who, at 80, is our personal style icon, shared the Style Queens award with the always impeccable Gretchen Uy. Style Kings that evening were dapper fashion designer Protacio Empaces and the newly engaged Michael Sanchez. Too bad his fiancé, John Hilson, couldn’t join us that evening.
On the subject of style, their planned wedding next year will be one event that will surely have that in spades.
The guests were well-dressed and so was the venue as SSI and Robby Carmona’s Saga Events transformed the already chic Tavolata—a black carpet covered the industrial concrete floors, mirrored panels added drama to the restaurant’s façade, and candles littered the floor.
The scent of Diptyque and Robert Blancaflor’s all-white tulips and lilium centerpieces greeted guests as they entered the venue.
Inside, we were treated to a sensory feast as Tavolata laid out a cheese station and antipasti spread and served its famous bruschettas, panini and pizzas. DJ Mars Miranda and vocalist Abby Asistio provided the evening’s soundtrack, as the guests, most of whom had one too many glasses of Moet, turned the restaurant into their own private dance floor.
SSI outdid itself with this one.