Local fashion is brimming with creatives who are now reshaping the industry. Make-up artists turn make-up into art, photographers create beautiful images that tell a story, and fashion stylists transform their subjects into a different person on camera.
Styling, they say, is as simple as selecting the perfect “outfit of the day.” It’s as simple as matching your tops and bottoms and selecting a pair of shoes that compliments your outfit. What most people don’t realize is that fashion styling is a difficult task.
Styling entails countless hours of research and brainstorming to determine what will make a person stand out, it involves a plethora of pull outs, on-the-spot styling, and, of course, hours of leg work depending on the type of shoot you’re at. It requires creativity but also managing a client’s expectations.
Even with all of the tasks that they must complete on a daily basis, these fashion stylists maintain an effortless appearance and can always be identified on set. Consider these two Filipino-Chinese fashion stylists who have become well-known in the world of beauty pageants. They have persistence, a natural sense of style, and, most importantly, fashion foresight.
This Fil-Chi fashion stylist has always wanted to work in the industry but like every dream, one must go through the process. Francis Chee shares how he got his start.
“I’ve always enjoyed putting together outfits, from fabrics to accessories.” Of course, the first step is to enroll in a fashion school, such as Fashion Institute of the Philippines (FIP). It’s been a roller coaster ride because I’m living my dream, meeting people in the fashion industry, and doing what I love. And from there, I just kept going. Making certain that my heart is always lit, full of gratitude and passion for my profession.”
It might seem easy if the first step is to enroll in a fashion school. One would expect that everything follows. But Francis admits that his decision to pursue his dreams is quite challenging as a Chinoy. “Well, it was never easy I must admit. It was a different path from the norm and it’s not the standard expectation for a boy. But someone must break the stigma!”
Today his parents are very proud that Francis has become the person he has aspired to be. And with his accomplishments and the personalities he has worked with, you won’t be surprised.
Francis Chee does not work alone; he collaborates with a stylist named Vhee Co and together, their team is called “Style It Ph.” Both have already made a name for themselves in the fashion industry, particularly among Beauty Queens. Because of their maximalist style, all of the Beauty Queens that they have handled stand out in every activity.
Vhee started his styling career by accident. It began inside an elevator when he was on his way to Bonifacio Global City to attend his friend’s son’s birthday party. “I saw a guy who was wearing the same outfit and same exact hairstyle as mine. It was so weird that I thought he was my doppelganger.”
Vhee talked to his style “twin” who turned out to be a creative director/stylist. They exchanged numbers and the following day, Vhee got a call asking to be an assistant for an event. Vhee immediately said yes and the rest, as they say, is history.
“I knew in my heart that I was destined to meet this person, and it was also the beginning of my career as a stylist.”
Francis and Vhee first worked with Jehza Huelar, Bb. Pilipinas Supranational 2018. That year, the two were eager to showcase to the world that, despite the fact that they are both male, they can dress up Beauty Queens. Surprisingly, it was well received by everyone.
Following this success, Francis and Vhee also styled Bb. Pilipinas International 2018 and Miss International 1st runner up, Ahtisa Manalo, as well as our Miss Universe 2018, Catriona Gray, as part of her Miss Universe styling team.
They also styled Reina Hispano Americana Filipinas 2018, Alyssa Muhlach, Miss World Philippines 2019, Michelle Dee and Bb. Pilipinas Intercontinental 2019, Emma Tiglao and last year’s Bb.Pilipinas Globe 2018 and Miss Universe Philippines 2020 2nd runners up, Michele Gumabao.
And now, as our country awaits the annual pageant to find out who will be crowned Miss Universe Philippines, Francis and Vhee are excited to announce that they will be styling Leren Mae Bautista from Laguna, who holds the distinction of being both Bb.Pilipinas Globe 2019 and Miss Globe 2nd runners up already. The duo have worked with her before but this time, she’ll be competing for the title of Miss Universe Philippines. Leren Mae Bautista is vying for this, and her two fashion stylists will assist her in making sure she strikes a presence.
As Francis and Vhee progressed in their career, they maintained a disciplined mindset so that they would not feel challenged or pressured. To this day, Francis reminds himself that he made the right decision and that he is fortunate to have the support of his family while Vhee is thankful for that ordinary moment that turned into his life’s plot twist.
Francis’ parting words are, “My advice is to have the courage to follow your heart and pursue your dream. Life is too short to waste time doing things we don’t enjoy. It is more satisfying to prioritize ourselves in order to give back, rather than the other way around. Respecting someone does not imply giving up your own.”
Vhee left another gem of advice, “First, Keep yourself professional. Second, be passionate and take every challenge and experience as your personal guide. Put basic work ethics into action. Maintain a positive relationship not only with your client, but also with all of the creatives and artists you work with on a regular basis. Be passionate because styling is a difficult profession, but at the end of the day, if you enjoy what you do, you won’t see it as work.”