With roughly 15 years of experience as the former fashion editor of Chalk and Marie Claire, the editor-in-chief of the now defunct L’Officiel Manila, and a freelance stylist responsible for numerous celebrity best-dressed looks, what does one like Pam Quiñones do with all the clothes and shoes she’s accumulated? Create a platform that encourages sustainable fashion, while sharing her insider know-how with her fellow fashion devotees.
“With a big closet I eventually acknowledged that there was a problem,” says Quiñones. “I was being lazy and wasteful. So I vowed to use everything in my closet and tap my creativity as a stylist.”
Besides running QURATOR studio, an incubator for stylists she founded four years ago, she’s also busy with Vestido, a curated fashion rental she founded with her colleague Cindy Go Bayot.
“Vestido aims to promote upcycling to prolong the life wear of our beloved fashion pieces,” says Quiñones. “I know this isn’t an overnight thing — conscious fashion — but it’s a start.”
Watch the video below for a tour of Vestido, which houses Quiñones’ personal pieces and read on to learn more about the fashion stylist, who’s not only admired for her effortless sartorial style, but also for her distinct creativity and vision.
What’s your usual day like?
I wake around 7am, have coffee, check emails and social media. Then I head to work, depending on which day, it could be for QURATOR, Vestido or other personal creative projects. I also spend a good time of my day talking and hanging out with my husband if I’m not busy. Before going to bed, I make sure I get to watch shows on Netflix (sometimes with a glass of wine).
Always striking a balance between masculine and feminine, form and function
What’s one thing people don’t really know about you?
That my personal closet is not as big as everyone thinks. When my husband and I moved in together, he challenged me to minimize my wardrobe to fit our closet, and to explore a more minimalist approach in our overall lifestyle. After a tedious editing process, I was able to edit my closet down to essentials and favorites and I’m actually loving the setup. I only keep what I absolutely love and have committed myself to wearing these pieces over and over again until I can no more.
Describe your personal style.
Always striking a balance between masculine and feminine, form and function. Sometimes it’s sexy punctuated with a masculine silhouette. Or vice versa.
Who are your style influences?
I have so many. I find the masculine elegance of Julie Pelipas so sexy. Francoise Hardy’s 60s French look has always been an inspiration. Carine Roitfeld and the late Franca Sozzani because they are stylish, strong leaders who created some of the best stories in fashion. Phoebe Philo for redefining womenswear and creating modern looks that have become classic (even 10 years after). The late Azzedine Alaia and every thing and everything he stood for. My friend Prasana Lee’s wicked sense of style and attitude.
Oldest and dearest item in your closet?
A Cartier watch and Bvlgari ring from my parents.
Is there any item in particular which you collect?
Shoes! Because the look is never complete without the right pair of shoes.
Do you have any style rule that helps you put an outfit together?
I always challenge myself to wear everything in my closet.
This was a challenge but I’m happy to say that I’ve become more particular about the provenance of my pieces
Why did you decide to create Vestido?
I’ve known about it for a while but I chose to ignore the issue: the inner conflict between my need to have something that’s hot and new vs. what’s a responsible purchase. I used to say that I need to buy something new because I have ‘nothing to wear.’ With a big closet I eventually acknowledged that there was a problem. I was being lazy and wasteful. So I vowed to use everything in my closet and tap my creativity as a stylist.
Not only did I start feeling good about myself, but I started caring more about my clothes. I even started going back to vintage stores. I vowed, too, that if I have to shop for my closet, at least it needs to be secondhand. This was a challenge but I’m happy to say that I’ve become more particular about the provenance of my pieces and have started to gravitate towards brands that practice ethical and sustainable fashion. And because of that, I’m now more intrigued to know more about fashion brands’ production processes.
I know this is not an overnight thing – conscious fashion – but it’s a start. When I buy something new I try to commit to it.
I recently attended a talk where Laura Francois from Fashion Revolution Singapore said that when she buys something, she talks to it and says “I’m going to commit to you for 10 years.” I loved that and I’m inspired to do the same thing.
I’m buying brand-new less than before (100% less!) and I’ve opened up my styling studio Qurator’s closet—it’s quite massive because we purchase pieces for our celebrity and private clients on a regular basis—into a fashion rental service that gives people access to special pieces without the commitment and only for a fraction of the price. I thought, why not promote upcycling? We always do it with styling—recycling old pieces and presenting them in a new, better way. As my business partner, Cindy Go, no stranger to the world of special occasions with a career in magazines and luxury retail herself said, “not only does it save precious closet space (especially when you live in a condominium), but it also helps from having to stock up formal wear that can look dated the moment you decide to wear it.”
We have started to open up Vestido to people who would also like to consign their closets for rental. We’re thrilled that more and more people share the same beliefs.
I have memories of sewing dresses on the spot to create a new look, or begging a designer to (magically) make something within an hour
Have you ever worn anything that you wished you thought twice about?
Of course, but I try to commit to the look since I’m already in it. But it always teaches me to go with my first instinct. When it doesn’t feel right, don’t wear it. It’s so simple but quite powerful.
Is there any accessory or style piece that you’re never caught without?
My wedding and engagement rings.
What’s next on your wish list?
Belmond Andean train travel across Peru.
Most memorable career milestones:
Special Metro cover in 2005 with Claudine Barretto, Kristine Hermosa, Bea Alonzo, Maia Salvador, Angelica Panganiban, Shaina Magdayao & Mr M.
Anne Curtis’s Rogue Cover in 2011 shot in Paris. To this day, it’s one of my favorite shoots of all time. We were a small group of just 5 people shooting in different areas in Paris in the course of 2 days. It was pure passion and creativity and Anne was such a trooper!
Sarah Jessica Parker shoot for The SM Store in 2013. I think this was a major pinch-me moment. Who wasn’t obsessed with Carrie Bradshaw?!!! SJP was the absolute most professional artist during the entire shoot. Not once did she even look at the monitor to check how she looked. I can’t forget her saying, “No need to check the monitor. You guys are experts in your field that’s why we’re all here.”
Having lunch with Azzedine Alaïa in his Atelier before doing the interview; and being given access to shoot his archival pieces for L’Officiel Manila.
Most challenging moments:
There were so many and they’ve already become anecdotes. A number of TV commercial shoots could easily be the most challenging. Nowadays, they’re more relaxed and shoots don’t run until dawn which was almost a regular practice back in the day.
I have memories of sewing dresses on the spot to create a new look, or begging a designer to (magically) make something within an hour. Or running back and forth from Manila to Subic to produce more options for dresses. The list is endless. But all those experiences I’ve absorbed and are now part of my arsenal of technical skills that I impart to my stylists.
As for editorial, I once did a cover shoot where the mom of the celebrity stormed into the studio screaming and demanding to put a halt to the shoot. That was memorable.
Go-to fashion brands: Old Céline, Alaïa, Dion Lee, Jacquemus, Loewe, Bevza, Aranáz, Nami, and Áraw.
Designers: Carl Jan Cruz, Norman Devera, Vania Romoff, Martin Bautista, and Rajo Laurel
Beauty: Robbie Piñera, Celeste Tuviera, and Jing Monis
Video and photographs by Jill Fernandez and Carlos Bautista