Q&A with Ronald Villavelez
By Fiona Patricia S. Escandor
Photos by Alfred Gregory E. Bartolome
RONALD Villavelez has been writing and designing for as long as he can remember. A voracious reader of poetry and fiction since a young age, and with an unwavering inclination to the world of fashion, he has dabbled in both over the years, and with his talent he has created a trail of achievements.
Today, he now heads his own atelier, Ronald Enrico, a thriving fashion house known not only for its exquisite designs and craftsmanship, but also for its professionalism that raises the bar in the local fashion industry. His work has been applauded by discriminating fashion savants across the Philippines, including celebrities who gush at the opportunity to don his creations. Know more about this talented designer in the following Q&A.
Tell us about your stint in the publishing industry.
I was jobless for a while and I was reading the books I’ve been collecting for so many years. When you read great works of literature, you somehow feel the need to write (as well) — so I rekindled my romance with literature and writing. I attended a few national writers’ workshops and I was writing poetry, but I knew I couldn’t make a living doing that here. I worked as a freelance writer for Independent Post back in the late 90s, until I got a job as a managing editor for a New York-based, business-oriented magazine. Then I got a job as copy and content manager for Bigfoot Global Solutions. During those years, I was also writing freelance for various publications.
What lured you back to fashion?
I was at the age when most of my peers were in their marrying age. They knew I was a designer so they got me to design their wedding gowns — until they recommended me to their friends then to their friends’ friends. Then it came to a point I had to formalize my small shop. Until my client base grew because of word-of-mouth. After two years I quit my full-time job. I was never sure this is where I would be heading. I never imagined that I would go back to fashion and it would be my main line of work.
Did you undergo workshops for it?
No, I just kept reading and reading about it, ever since I was in grade school. There weren’t much glossy fashion magazines back then and I barely had access to Vogue because I couldn’t afford to buy it. So I went to our library and started reading about the big fashion houses in Europe and the US.
How would you describe your style? What appeals to you?
I like doing clothes that are feminine and lightweight. I don’t want my clothes to overshadow or overwhelm (the wearer). For me, it should be a collaboration between the wearer and the creation. I want it to flatter her, to suit her her lifestyle and personality. Essentially, I like romantic clothes.
What are the top reasons you enjoy doing what you do?
That I can do creative work on a daily basis. Apart from that, being able to contribute to nation-building. As an entrepreneur, I can provide jobs to skilled workers and at the same time, develop skills since some of them don’t have experience prior to (joining my atelier). I train them and they can make a living out of it. I think that’s also one of the areas I get fulfilment from.
What do you enjoy during your free time?
I just read. Sometimes, I try to find the time to write.