Celine Borromeo of Project Runway fame charts path, gears up for higher learning
By Deneb Batucan
BEHIND the glitz and the glamour of an aesthetically beautiful gown is a designer juicing out her creativity into cloth and thread. Celine Borromeo is one fashion designer who takes her craft seriously and gives so much attention to detail. No wonder she was the only woman designer in the top three of the recently concluded nationwide fashion design competition, Project Runway Philippines Season 4.
Celine’s fascination with fashion started with everyone’s favorite doll, Barbie. “One day, I kept asking my mom for new clothes for my Barbie. She gave me a sewing kit with tela, needles and threads. She said, ‘Here, make clothes for your Barbie.’ Ever since, I kept designing.
During siesta time, my mom and I would sit outside our terrace and sketch designs. She pushed me to develop my passion for design and nurtured my potential as a designer,” she shared.
Because of her mom’s avid support, Celine wanted to take up fashion design. But around high school, she realized it wasn’t a lucrative course to take. But her passion only ignited when she graduated from high school and learned that the University of San Carlos was offering a course on fashion design. And there her fashion pursuits began.
Being part of the top three designers during Project Runway Philippines’ fourth season was not for the faint of heart. It took a whole lot of sweat and guts to get to that coveted spot. From more than a hundred aspirants, only 15 were chosen, and among them, three people were left: Joy Chicano, Jared Servano, and Celine.
“It was just so surreal being on Project Runway Philippines. I grew up watching the US version and, in a way, it’s like a dream come true being on the Philippine version. It doesn’t feel real,” Celine said.
The true-blue Cebuana wowed the judges with her form-flattering and chic aesthetic which she dubs as “understated elegance.”
Celine went through seemingly infinite bouts of challenges during the competition, but the most difficult was the avant-garde challenge, the challenge before they announced the final three. “The challenge was so far from my aesthetic and we only had one day to make the design and I was being so ambitious with my piece. And then Jojie Lloren comes in and tells us to make a ready-to-wear version of our avant-garde piece and they sent back four eliminated contestants to help each of us.
Personally, my assistant (ex-contestant) didn’t really like me or get along with me, so I struggled with that,” she said.
By elimination time, Celine thought she was going home. But the judges saw something more of her and let her stay in the competition and be part of the top 3. “After they told me I got in the top three — they didn’t show this on TV – I was crying so loud backstage because I just couldn’t believe it,” she quipped.
These challenges made Celine an even better designer than she was before. “I didn’t fully know who I was as a designer until I got into Project Runway. The most important thing I learned from the competition was to manage my time wisely, to have grace under pressure, and to work hard and diligently despite all the drama,” she said.
Celine’s experience in the competition was, for her, a crash course into the fashion industry. She gained newfound friends in some of the contestants and learned a lot more about her passion. “It was a journey to finding myself and being able to step up to the challenges I faced,” she said.
Now that the competition is over, Celine finds herself at the cusp of a new challenge. By November, she will be flying out to Manila to start her internship with Filipino-American fashion designer, Josie Natori. “I’m very excited to begin my internship because I really want to learn all the different aspects in the fashion industry like couture, ready-to-wear, retail, made-to-order, etc. Jose is a ready-to-wear/retail master, and I think learning from her is one step to achieving my dream,” she said.
Celine plans to travel the world and learn about fashion from different cultures. “I want to learn everything and apply everything when I finally open up my own shop,” she said.
At the young age of 22, Celine has inspired countless young, aspiring designers as she was able to go through a cutthroat competition while maintaining grace and elegance in her work and disposition. She challenges fashion aspirants to just go for their fashion dream as soon as they can. “Don’t ever doubt yourself because you’ll always surprise yourself with what you are capable of doing,” she shared.
Photos: Alfred Gregory E. Bartolome
Make-up Artist: Carlo Damolo
Hair Stylist: Jerwin Bastatas