Saturday, November 15, 2014

Designer Sharlene Borromeo makes in big in Fashion Week San Diego

I just re-read the entry title and it does sound like an article heading. Actually, I'm blogging about my latest article on The Philippine Online Chronicles, and, for the lack of creative juices at the moment, allow me to retain the title.

Check out my article here.

For this entry, I'll share this Q&A with Sharlene Borromeo, the Pinay designer behind the brand A'doreus. She happens to be Fashion Week San Diego's first and only plus size designer for 3 years in a row! And she'll be back again next year. Read on to get to know her and her journey in the fashion industry so far.

Lornadahl: Congratulations on being the top designer for Fashion Week San Diego this year! How does it feel?
Sharlene: It is definitely an honor to have been voted Top Designer of Fashion Week San Diego 2014. Truthfully, I have mixed emotions. It was heartwarming to see people literally shed tears of happiness when the announcement was made. I knew people could feel the love and passion I put into my craft. In some ways it's a victory and I'm enjoying my moment of glory - breaking so many barriers, personally and within plus size/fashion industry. On the other side it's extremely daunting. I'm receiving a lot of pressure from so many different angles. People want me to branch out and showcase in New York, offer straight sizes, or mass produce and sell online. It's not impossible but it is costly and I don't think people quite understand that. Whichever direction this journey takes me, it will be one of purpose.

Sharlene Borromeo's winning moment at the recently concluded FWSD 2014.
Photo by Jon Naugle.

Lornadahl: You've been representing us plus size women in the Fashion Week for the past 3 years. Can you describe your journey to make it to this prestigious event? What does it take to maintain your presence for 3 years?
Sharlene: I have been representing the plus size community all my life because I've always been plus size, yet confident in my own skin. Encountering criticism and seeing the lack of plus size fashion in the industry didn't make me want to change who I was. I wanted to understand and "fix" the stigma that plus size women face because of the social pressures of the fashion industry. I earned a degree in Fashion Business and Technology in 2007 and a degree in Fashion Design and Technology in 2009. It's ironic because I never considered being a Designer when I was younger. I didn't know how to sew and I surely didn't follow fashion trends (I still don't). I'm not about the bells and whistles, fame and glamour. I'm about simplicity and fashion that accentuates a woman's assets.

It was through business internship with world renowned Designer and Fashion Icon, Zandra Rhodes that I discovered my creative side and was encouraged by Rhodes to pursue Fashion Design. As my Mentor, Rhodes instills in me the concept of "paving my own way". I strive to model her tenacity and determination to go against the grain and not conform. I've made my mark at FWSD as the first plus size Designer. As the winning Top Designer, I automatically get to return for a 4th year. I've ben able to maintain my presence for 3 years because of people like Rhodes who continuously push me and because people appreciate my transparency about my journey. I may not have the largest following, but those that do follow me know my worth and potential.

Mentor Zandra Rhodes has all praises for Sharlene. Watch the clip here

Lornadahl: Please describe your fashion brand A'doreus and what makes it different from other plus size brands.
Sharlene: My brand, A'doreus, is a direct reflection of who I am. A'doreus is a lifestyle of a'doring and embracing diversityand size acceptance through the many facets of fashion. What sets me apart from other plus size brands is that I use my craft as a way to build meaningful connections. My brand relies on the foundation of "purpose". Many plus size Designers showcase amongst other fellow plus size Designers at events that are tailored to the plus size audience. Fashion Week San Diego is primarily a mainstream fashion event with thin models and a lot of swimwear. Showcasing a collection at FWSD is a way for me to change people's mindset of what plus size fashion looks like and understand its relevance in the mainstream fashion industry, especially because 70% of all American women wear a size 14 or larger. I view my efforts as a social movement to embrace diversity and size acceptance.

Lornadahl: What are your best design pieces and why?

Mullet skirt made of 100% silk

Sharlene: This hi-lo dress, made of 100% silk fabric with black piping was the finale piece to my first collection I showcased at FWSD in 2012. Its elegance brings about a sense of sophistication and grace to be a'dored.

Vintage key-inspired pattern design printed on organic cotton sateen fabric

Sharlene: I collaborated with local San Diegan Artist, Rebecca Berenson from Urban Fish Designs. We created a vintage key inspired pattern that we had printed on organic cotton sateen fabric. This dress is truly one of a kind and cannot be replicated. The print was used throughout my collection showcased at FWSD 2013.

Sequin maxi dress

Sharlene: I've never worked with sequins before because I always thought it screamed "plus size" but with the right kind of sequins it can look very chic and contemporary.

Sharlene's creation for a petite plus size model

Sharlene: I designed this dress for a petite plus size mode. The silhouette is classic with a sweetheart neckline and a hi-low circle skirt. However, the chevron fabric with the sheer eyelet chiffon overlay, pinstripe bow, and gold trim detail makes the dress magical. The drape and movement of the dress is breathtaking!

 Party dress

Sharlene: This dress is a signature style of mine. I tend to use several fabrics for my collection. I then like to use all of the fabrics within one look. That particular look then becomes more fashion forward for those looking for something unique and trendy.

Lornadahl: Awesome designs! What's next for your brand? Any grand plans we need to know?
Sharlene: I have treaded the waters of the fashion industry very strategically because I am a realist and would rather take my time mastering my craft and creating fashion with purpose. I plan to use the next year to promote A'doreus, possibly seek a manufacturing company to begin production, and complete another collection for FWSD 2015 to complete my commitment with them. What happens next? I'm not sure. It really depends on what doors open for me within the next few months.

A'doreus will be recognized at the Silayan Filipina National Organization's "Honoring Filipinas in the Arts" on December 20, 2014. I will be specifically recognized for my "outstanding achievements as an artist in Fashion Design".

I recently had the opportunity to meet blogger Crystal Coons (@sometimesglam). We are throwing ideas around about a future collaboration regarding a styling book for the plus size woman. She was impressed with my collection and did an impromptu photo shoot with some of the pieces. You can follow her blog at to see more of the looks.

Lornadahl: Where do you get your inspiration for your designs?
Sharlene: I don't follow trends. I really don't even have a favorite Designer. I'm not a brand snob and I rarely flip through fashion magazines. I really do create from the heart and for the body I plan to clothe. Fashion is so subjective anyway so I don't create to appease the masses. I utilize classic silhouettes, simple style lines and focus on the details of the garment. I love piping. using different trims, and combining different fabrics and textures for a luxurious, one of a kind piece. Often times, I am my own inspiration. I create clothes that I would want to wear. I'm 5'2", wear size 18-20, have big arms, a round belly and thick thighs. You won't ever catch me "hiding" under clothing nor will you ever find me scantily clothed. I like comfortable and functional clothes that will allow me to rip around town effortlessly. My designs are meant too make a plus size woman feel equally feminine, sexy, and refined.

Lornadahl: Any message for aspiring plus size fashion brands to make it big?
Sharlene: For any aspiring fashion Designer, plus size or not - my advice is to design with purpose. When we do things from the heart, with a conscience mind, and conduct yourself with the highest level of integrity - it's easier to navigate through the politics and competitiveness that comes with the fashion industry. Use your moral compass. As far as making it big... When I figure it out - I'll let you know! Until then, perseverance is key.

Monday, May 26, 2014

MUSIC MONDAY: Jade, Sapphire, & d'Rachael's "Unconditional Love"

After watching A Beautiful Body Project 2013, (check it out, check out out!) I felt it was necessary to look up the photographer Jade Beall and the uplifting song that played during the video. 

As an expectant mum, there are so many dramatic body changes that took place recently and I am so grateful to have started my body love journey way back. I'm not saying the darkening of my neck and underarms and the addition of stretch marks never bothered me, but knowing your self-worth paves the way for everything. It also makes me focus more on the growing miracle inside me and how I can best take care of her. It's such a wonderful feeling!

Anyway, I truly enjoyed how familial love is overflowing as the singers performed this song. It makes me wish we'll become a musical family, too. Haha! 

I dedicate this song to fellow mothers-to-be; may this song remind you that motherhood will NOT ruin your beautiful body. Our bodies are more than artifacts to look at, it's a living proof of strength, among others. Pregnancy prepares us for the biggest manifestation of our physical strength and for our most challenging yet rewarding journey on earth. I am yet to experience this in full, but I already understand the overflowing joy that awaits me and my husband. 

Someday, we will take pride in how our bodies expanded to carry our little child/ren and we will express that the stretch marks will be worth it. Someday, the breast pains will stop and we'll feel grateful how our milk and determination were instrumental for our child's wellness. But for the meantime, let's give ourselves unconditional self-love and pass it on to the beautiful soul living inside us, waiting for that destined day s/he'll meet her mother.

Friday, May 16, 2014

WORLD PREMIERE: That Blue Ruffled Dress

We're lucky to discover that there's an ongoing sale for plus size clothes (if it were mall-wide, I wasn't sure) in SM SouthMall last week. The first maternity-dress-for-now-corporate-dress-later that caught my eye? It's the plain red dress with ruffled design at the lower half from Jus Ur Size. Upon seeing me giving it a I'm-not-sure-if-I-should get-you look, my mum was quick to give her nod of approval when she saw the price tag: P450 only (originally P800+). 

It's a lovely dress, all right, but I doubt it'll look good on me and my close-to-flat rear. When I tried it on, I could sense the agreement about the dearth of curves over THERE from my mum's and husband's eyes. Kebs na!

Knowing that my baby bump will get bigger in the next 1-2 months, I asked the staff for a bigger size. But 3L looked quite lengthy at below my knees, so I ended up asking for 2L. Good thing it's made of stretchable fabric so I'm sure my little warrior won't express her disapproval with karate chops when I'm wearing it. 

And the final concern before I gave in: the color. This dress is available in red, purple and blue and, if you notice, I've worn too many reds and purples in this lifetime. You guessed it right. I reached for the blue one and waited for my mum and ninang to finish their style hunt (more on that later).

Pang-cover girl ba ang peg? 
(Sa Working Mom ata dapat hihi)

With this dress, I found the courage the join Metro Magazine's #selfie challenge! Oha!

Outfit of the Day:
Blue dress from Jus My Size
Blue flats from Solemate, SM Department Store

Photos by Adrian Gonzales.


Going back to my cliffhanger earlier, I take pride on the fact that I was the one who found the best dress for Mama! Among the many dresses she tried on, this particular dress brought a sparkle in her eyes. For me, it felt like I've returned the favor for buying me this and that illusion dress. Such an awesome feeling!

Mama said she'll wear this to the ballroom dancing event she'll attend this month. Cool!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

WORLD PREMIERE: That Pink-And-Yellow Illusion Dress

So you've seen the 1 of 2 maternity-dresses-for-now-corporate-dresses-later in my prior entry. The other one is equally chic and fun, but never did I imagine I'll wear it when I exchange I do's! Maybe it's the superstition about black dresses on wedding day that made me initially want to avoid it, but me and my baby bump can't fit in this peplum dress anymore.  So I gave in and opted for this pink-and-yellow illusion dress. I'll just make sure to wear something all-white for our Church wedding, yes?

Sneak peek!

This dress had me at that little cut in the chest area. It's seductive without even showing my cleavage at all! Can't wait to wear it to the office! 

Mama actually wanted me to wear my dark blue flats for this dress. But I argued it's better to wear something neutral instead. It felt too Technicolor kasi. How about you, what pair of shoes would you wear for this lovely dress?

Outfit of the Day:
Dress from Divisoria
Snakeskin clutch bag from Suiteblanco
Earrings and bracelet from Mama
White lacey flats from Solemate, SM Department Store

Photos by Waldo Pan.

Monday, May 5, 2014

WORLD PREMIERE: That Black-And-White Illusion Dress + Baby Bump

I've said this once and I'll say it again - my mum had been greatly influential with my fashion sense. Most of the time, I'm snatching stuff from her closet or she'd style me, like what happened here

When we found out that I'm already carrying a 6-month-old baby girl around end of March (yeah, this story probably deserves a separate entry!), it was my mother who immediately acted on this fashion emergency. Actually, I've wanted to squeeze in a visit in ukay ukay shops in my hectic schedule, but my friend Yvie dissuaded me due to exposure to dirt and bacteria. So Mama spearheaded the spring cleaning and - voila! - I have instant maternity dresses and bestidas straight from her baul. But that didn't stop her; she still went to Divisoria to scour for more maternity-dresses-for-now-corporate-dresses-later.

I must admit I was impressed with her 2 purchases! Although this black-and-white illusion dress pretty much reminded me of this who-wore-it-better meme, I took delight in its effortlessly fabulous feel! My friends even told me, "Donyang-donya ang peg!" upon seeing me.

Speaking of donyang-donya, I left my usual dangling earrings at home and grabbed my mother's regal-looking clip-on earrings. And believe it or not, I traded my usually huuuuge shoulder bag with something black and light from mum. In short, that overused white lacey flats is the only thing in this ensemble that I own haha! I was thinking sandals like this would look great on this dress, but I've been reaaaaally lazy to shop for myself. Someday, after childbirth, I'd like to pair it with pumps like this! But for now, I'm a slave for comfort. (Lagi naman, diba? Haha!)

Lovin' the earrings, hatin' the dark neck! 

Of course, this calls for a close-up shot of the earrings. But forgive me for the exposure of my unsightly neck and nape. That, I hope, will disappear after I give birth to my little body image warrior.

Outfit of the Day:
  Illusion dress from Divisoria
Earrings, bracelet and bag from Mama
White flats from Solemate, SM Department Store

Photos by Carl Tendenilla.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Pole Dancing Gear For Plus Size Women

It's a not-so-secret dream of mine to unleash my inner siren on the pole. When I first met makeup artist Azaza Rodriguez, I got so inspired how she radiated passion for pole dancing and how she disproves the notion that fat women can't do it. Her energies are simply contagious!

Up to now, I haven't acted on this desire to take up pole dancing class. Well, there are realities like proximity to my residence and/or workplace, budget constraints and practice clothes. See, looking for pole dancing gear can be a real challenge for plus size women. Since this workout paves the way for strength, flexibility and grace, any aspiring pole dancer need practice clothes that fit well, feel comfortable and look chic at the same time. If it’s too tight, you can’t move freely and, worse, get conscious of your “muffin top”. If it’s too loose, you end up showing your underwear. But we all know that most outfit brands cater to smaller cup sizes and waistlines.

When she started pole dancing, Azaza showed up in class wearing the ever staple t-shirt and cycling shorts. As she progressed in pole dancing, she decided to let go of the sleeves and pant legs for the ideal skin-to-pole contact. She then opted for sports bra from Sassa, but her chest needed maximum support during the routines.

Emee Macabales is fortunate to fit in XL-sized sports bras from local brands like Sassa, Body Mix, So-En and foreign ones like Forever21 and NikeHowever, finding pole shorts or booty shorts proved to be more challenging. Most of her purchases from Coco Cabana from SM Department Store and Eskina were found by luck. Sometimes, she had to resort to high-waisted or board shorts-looking bottoms.
Both Azaza and Emee were happy to discover tankini bottoms and side-string shorts. With its adjustable strings and breathable fabric, they can execute spins, inverts and other moves with ease.

                               Azaza in action! Stellar on Broadway photo by Shane Bellare.
Singer/songwriter/plus size model Kat Lopez Cansing was glad to find this pole shorts from online shop beamaz1ng. She raves how it fits her perfectly and how it prevents the unsightly “camel toe”.
For mother-of-two Nics, she had her share of alterations for sports bra from Everlast and 168 as well as pole shorts from Body Music and Sassa for a better fit. Eventually, she had her fitness gears custom-made since she prefers her pole shorts spandex and garter-free. This may sound like an expensive option, but she finds it more satisfactory as she gets to choose the color and design. Also, she wears stirrup leg warmers to relax her leg muscles during warm-ups and conditioning.

Photos from Nics
Here's hoping fitness brands and aspiring plus size brands alike would take notice of our consideration.
This entry appeared on's Beauty & Fashion section. Check it out here
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