By Nikki H. Huang

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LOVE IN MONOCHROME Designer Chris Nick and the author. (Noel Pabalate)

It’s not often you find a designer whose aesthetic so perfectly matches your own at 19 years old. It’s also not so often designers find clients who truly embody the lifestyle and fashion they envision for their muses, hardly a year into their career.

And yet, at 19 and 26 respectively, I and Chris Nick De Los Reyes have found each other. It’s almost dreamy, what we have. Setting us apart from many designer-muse relationships, Chris and I are equally young and in love (with fashion, and with each other, in the way only a pair of equally self-assured best friends can be), idealistic, and naive, but sometimes wise beyond our years (according to those around us). In the world of fashion and in the Philippines, we’re quite literally babies. We are at the beginning of our careers, with hardly any life experience to back us up. But this freshness, the thirst we have for the excitement of life, and the never ending quest to “make it” are the things that bring us together. And in honor of Chris’ official atelier opening, which happened last June 15, I thought I’d write a little bit about our relationship, the Chris Nick brand, and why I see myself being a customer for decades to come.

Mastering the Classics

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From billowing proportion to rich fabrication, Nick’s designs are reminiscent of old Parisian couture

So, what is it that I love so much about Chris’ design philosophy? After all, I’ve spent the past month wearing his pieces to almost every event. You see, readers, Chris draws inspiration from the exclusivity and glamour of Old Hollywood, the classic chicness of Paris. This is reflected in the padded shoulders of his suiting, the tailored lines, the neutral, and mostly dark color palette. While other designers in Manila go for sexy, feminine, textured, patterned, Chris is unafraid to stick to the classics. He believes in the wearer’s ability to carry his designs, not the other way around. He allows confidence to speak for itself and not be forced by elaborate clothing. His little twists on classics are what make them modern, sexy staples: Artful draping on a man’s black suit, an evening gown crossed with a powerful blazer that I turned into a prom look. Chris is not afraid, in today’s world of fashion, to cover women up. Turtlenecks and long sleeves are abundant in his ready-to-wear, because the Chris Nick woman drips appeal without needing any skin on display.

Designer’s Touch

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Chris Nick’s slouchy velvet suit for men

Now allow me to talk about the Chris Nick experience, readers, because it is one to behold. Chris and Steph (Chris’ right hand and all around Wonder Woman) often laugh that, while other clients sit poised on the chic black couch of their atelier, I kick my shoes off and lie down, as if in my own home. But who can blame me? Being surrounded by creativity, fashion, and friends is my ideal reprieve at the end of the work day, and I know I’m not alone. The Chris Nick atelier experience also extends to more than just a fitting; freshly made Nespresso, chocolate, macaroons, and good music are in abundance. No need to take my word for it, though. Pay them a visit at LPL towers by shooting Steph an email and see for yourself.

The Fine Details

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Slinky satin cocktail dress paired with a flapper gloves

My time working with Chris and his team have grown into much more than trying on looks: They have become an exercise in creativity, art, inspiration, reflection, and friendship. My fittings, Chris Nick are as much him and I nitpicking the finer details of a look as they are the both of us lamenting about the struggles of young adulthood: Failed relationships, rumors, fights with friends, our deep insecurities, awful encounters with various personalities, and the high pressure to look as if you’re effortlessly succeeding, all exacerbated by the smallness of Manila’s society. Throughout it all, Chris and I have two things in common: The drive to succeed and the desire to support one another through all the moments—both glamorous and not. There’s an easy realness about the way we work together. I’m grateful for it every time I walk out the studio door.

Artist and His Muse

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sharply-tailored satin trench coat

Here’s another thing I cherish about the Chris Nick brand: It champions the multifacetedness of today’s generation. The Chris Nick customer understands that each facet of who they are is equally important to the work that they do and the impact they want to have on their community. And their fashion reflects that. It balances professionalism and fun, sex and elegance, reservation, and excess. I’ve found that this shared acknowledgment of duality, and of authenticity really brings Chris and me together. It makes for quite the harmonious creative process as designer and client, respectively. Check our Instagram stories at 12 noon, we are suited up, refined, working on our respective passion projects. We have a love for being young and entrepreneurial. Come 12 midnight, we’re posting pictures and videos of each other dancing and throwing back shots at Almacen.

He believes in the wearer’s ability to carry his designs, not the other way around. He allows confidence to speak for itself and not be forced by elaborate clothing.

Chris is a young artist and successful businessman making waves by dressing Manila’s best and brightest in groundbreaking looks (think Catriona’s white homecoming suit). I am a young woman growing up around the business of Philippine retail, now preparing to take on a whole new world at an American university. Unlike my life at home, I’ve realized that abroad, I’ll know no one and have nothing but myself. You know, let me edit that last part. I’ll be off to college with a few Chris Nick pieces in my collection, and I know they’ll help give me all the confidence I’ll need.

Here’s to one of Manila’s youngest, most in-demand designers. Chris, my love, as I’ve said to you time and time again: This is just the beginning. Thank you for inspiring me and empowering me, not only with the clothes you create, but with the friendship you have shared. Congratulations!

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