Words by Margarita Buenaventura
There’s a reason why it’s a cliché, because it’s true: styling isn’t as glamorous as it seems. Pulling clothes out of stores, lugging them around, and dressing fussy models, all to pay homage to the altar of style? No walk in the park.
Ecks Abitona may be no veteran yet, but she’s styled as a contributor to online zine Stache, did a visual merchandising stint for a local retail group, and freelanced enough to be intimate with the ins and outs of the job.
Ecks may claim that she “hasn’t completely figured things out” just yet, but her unstudied sartorial style—one that can be seen through her own dressing as well as her models’—is one that can’t be ignored. After working with Ecks on the recent “Bench Beginnings” series, we caught up with the stylist at SOMA Stores recently to talk about the grit n’ grind amid the glamour, styling horror stories, and just what Jane Birkin would wear under her watchful eye.
After getting your freelance styling career jump-started, what you think is the most thankless aspect of your job?
I think the most difficult part of it is not being able to communicate with the people behind the shoot. Maybe some would say that pulling out and returning clothes could be a lowlight. It can be exhausting, yes, but not unpleasant because it’s the part where you’ll get a clear view of what you want to achieve. To not be able to get a straightforward idea of what the producer or the photographer want to aim, it’s like you’re working blind.
Is it difficult to set yourself apart as a stylist in Manila?
It’s a challenge. Sometimes it surprises me how many thrive to be a stylist. Yes, it takes hard work and confidence but all kinds of work require that. The most important thing, however, that I want live by is that I deliver keeping in mind all the things I believe in.
How do you go about a styling project? Do you get inspiration from pegs?
I don’t really believe in pegs. I learned in my advertising classes that we all take inspiration everywhere, everyday, and those reflect in all the work we do. I decided to expose myself to all sorts of magazines, films, or even people to have a better grasp of things. Nevertheless, I believe in communication. To be able to build something from scratch with people and to make the rawest of ideas tangible is very much fulfilling.
Can you share your most memorable styling horror story?
I had to style with another girl for an editorial to be published on our online magazine. We finalized everything, then the shoot day came and she never showed up. All I had with me were coats, blazers and hats which is my end of the plan. We then decided to redo our initial idea and still managed to pull through.
Who would you love to style–living or dead?
Jane Birkin! I’d put her in a perfect-fitting crisp white shirt paired with black satin loose trousers and a camel coat. Barefoot, while she sluggishly hangs out at her home in France.