LOOK: Artist Migs Villanueva, fashion designer Vares Jeune's latest collaboration

'A Day at the Atelier' features hand-painted fashion collection

The local art scene is brimming with many talents, reaching out to different types of audiences that proves that art is present everywhere—if you look closely.

Art Lounge Manila knows this all too well, and they have taken that bold step to work outside the box through the recent collaboration between artists Migs Villanueva and fashion designer Robbie Santos. Vares Jeune is Santos' couture line for children, and his pieces make for a great canvas for Villanueva to paint on.

"Vares Jeune is bespoke luxury. It is a reflection of the child’s parents’ taste that would prompt him or her to wear the label. I advocate fashion that is beautiful and durable, a stark contrast to today’s fast fashion. I love seeing kids in wonderful outfits, whether dressy or casual, while at the same time being their usual precocious selves," shares Santos on what his kids' couture line is all about.

With Villanueva's special magic painted on these bespoke pieces, children who wear them will be empowered to stand out from the crowd. One can never be too young to appreciate handmade, slow fashion pieces. And to make them especially for the wearer? That makes it even more special, paving the way for these young ones to appreciate art at an early age. Santos chimes in, "Because we are custom-made-to-order, we make anything to the child and their parents’ delight. For the child who wishes to have unique and special clothes, we are the brand who can help them achieve that."

Now, with bespoke pieces custom-made for children, the next challenge is whose artworks can complement Santos' works? Three-time Palanca Award winner Migs Villanueva is a favorite for her signature illustration of children's faces with just three dots to represent the eyes and mouth. Simple but full of emotion, making her works endearing to any age group. Her choice of color palette of pastels and muted hues represents carefree childhood days.

"I really don’t paint specific children, unless it’s commissioned work. The kids in my painting are a composite of all the children I have known, including myself, from what I remember as a child. Through the years I’ve depicted all sorts of personalities of kids in my art, and the moods and attitudes somehow mirror my own at the time of doing the work, or what I dig up from my memory bank," explains Villanueva.

When asked how she feels about seeing her works on children's clothes, "The idea of having a runway show inspired me a lot. It’s a long-lost dream to be a designer. We had a designer relative when I was a kid, whom I admired; and I would show my design drawings to him. I thought I wanted to be a designer. So, having this opportunity to work with Robbie is such a joy. Really inspiring."

Being a young grandmother, she made sure her designs will make a delightful connection for this younger target market. "I suppose any print design can have a place in textile or fashion. Even so, I tried to paint images that are more age-appropriate. Sometimes I had doubts whether my usual ‘art’ look would be ok for such little girls and boys.  I took that into consideration, so there are a few different themes I used for the collection."

The result of this collaboration is a fun show set at Art Lounge Manila, in collaboration with IMPRINT Media Group. Entitled "A Day at the Atelier," the venue was transformed into a busy atelier filled with vignettes filled with fabrics and patterns by Santos, and even an old sewing machine. Paintings by Villanueva are also displayed to represent this special collaboration. Of course, handpainted Vares Jeune pieces are the highlights of the exhibit. A special fashion show with real children as models made the guests more appreciative of this collection.

Owning a wearable piece by Villanueva and Vares Juene makes it extra special. "The clothes the artist and I collaborated on may be worn, but they have to be washed delicately due to the painting on the garment. I think the clothes have to be worn and photographed on the child once, then have it stored or framed for posterity and for its added value," Villanueva suggests.