A line of jewelry and minaudières inspired by Bacolod’s Masskara Festival will be on exhibit in Milan this weekend and in Paris next month.
The Maskara collection was designed by Malou Romero for her jewelry line Joanique.
Her inspirations come from various sources. Sometimes, images in her mind would spur her to draw designs. Other times, the sight of specific materials such as semiprecious stones would let her creative juices flowing.
The rings, earrings and pendants echo the bold, bright and lively smiling masks that the locals in the City of Smiles initially wore to remind themselves that problems could be overcome with a happy disposition.
Romero wanted to capture the festival’s spirit. “The colors, mood and music,” she says. “So I came up with a very lively, fun, quirky and easygoing collection. I wanted to make something Filipino but with a global appeal.”
Joanique—a play on the names of her children Joaquin and Monique—is barely five years old but has already gained markets in London, Tokyo, Hong Kong and United States.
The Maskara collection will be on display at Milan’s Pavilion 3 Fiera trade show this weekend (Sept. 26-28) and in Paris in another exhibit at the Jardin de Tuileries in early October.
For the first time, Joanique’s jewelry will come with a line of minaudières painted with happy faces, also inspired by the Masskara Festival.
“I’m inspired by just about anything—travel, artworks, fashion, even a story,” Romero notes.
She recalls a time she experimented with carabao horn and bone at a time it was still considered a material used exclusively for campy travel souvenirs.
“Everyone was impressed,” she says.
Her knack for designing jewelry dates back to her modeling days with Jewelmer, the famous fine jewelry brand of South Sea pearls.
Romero recalls when, as one of Jewelmer’s muses, it was part of her job to join its team in international exhibits. That was how she got exposed to various works of jewelry designers.
While she enjoyed showing off the pearls, the erstwhile model eventually fell in love with the process of creating jewelry.
“For me, jewelry is more artwork than a product of fashion design. It’s like sculpture, you appreciate the intricacies down to the smallest detail,” says the one-time interior design student.
Joanique, she points out, is what many now consider bridge jewelry, bridging the fine line between costume and fine pieces.
“It looks like fine jewelry, but the materials are (gold-plated) silver, (semiprecious) stones and cubic zirconia. The price point is also way lower,” Romero says.
She notes how markets in different countries have varied preferences in accessories.
Women in Hong Kong and Japan, for example, like dainty and simple pieces, while American clients like them bold and edgy. Londoners also like statement jewelry, she adds.
Filipino clients straddle a wider range, Romero says. “The more mature clients like big, chunky pieces, while the younger ones like them small and easy-to-wear.”
One thing Romero makes sure of is that she would be the first to wear her pieces, whether big, small, bold or not.
“When I make jewelry, I make sure I like them. I want to wear them. It has to suit my taste. When I was younger, I would make jewelry telling myself that if a piece didn’t sell, it would be mine naman,” she tells Inquirer Lifestyle.
As it is, Romero is seldom left holding on to her pieces.