Before starting on the entry, I just realised that its been almost two years since the last Q + A. What took so long? I'm not really sure. Perhaps its the lack of interesting personalities to feature or the fact that work has been taking a lot of my time. But here it is once again, with Alexei Villaraza taking centre stage.
Alexei, a PR whiz, blogger and newspaper lifestyle columnist, will soon be adding "New Yorker" under his belt as he will be flying off to New York City for graduate studies. Lucky, you say? Extremely. Recently, we've been having conversations that revolve around places to see, food to eat and awesomeness to be experienced in the city that never sleeps. So before he settles in a completely different time zone, I figured a Q + A with this witty, opinionated and dashing gentleman was in order.
What do you do?
I’m an incoming graduate student at New York University (NYU), about to take up Public Relations and Corporate Communications this Fall. Before deciding to become a student again, I was a Senior Accounts and Media Relations Manager at Bridges, a boutique PR and Marketing Communications agency.
Describe your personal style.
I like things clean and simple. I don’t like wearing too many colours unless its gingham or madras, which I would pair with something solid. Prints on prints make me dizzy.
When I buy clothes, I always look for interesting details like wooden or mother of pearl buttons, intricate embroidery, printed cuffs, quirky pockets or a unique collar design. I also don’t like things that scream the brand. I think it’s tacky.
If we go through your closet, what would we find a lot of?
You’d find a lot of tapered shirts in white, blue and black. It’s also peppered with a few pieces in grey, pink and khaki. All my pants are slim fit and are from Uniqlo. They’re mostly in black or very dark denim - because Oprah said when buying denim, always go for the darkest shade!
Who or what inspires your personal style? Can you briefly talk about it?
I’ve always loved the design aesthetic of Hedi Slimane – fine, slim tailoring executed in a non-pretentious way. Locally, I love the stuff Joey Samson churns out. His menswear is almost like Hedi’s without the hefty price tag. The tailoring of both Hedi and Joey are exquisite and the clothes hug you in all the right places.
I think to make an impact, you should always wear clothes that actually fit you. If not, you’d either look stupid or look and feel uncomfortable when wearing it.
If you could only wear one label your entire life, what would it be and why?
When I love a certain brand, I’ll stick by it until I find something better. For now, it has got to be Tyler. I love the fit of their tapered dress shirts and knit tops. I can wear their shit from day to night, even with sneakers or loafers. Hopefully, I’ll find the same kind of stuff when I move to New York.
What is the one item of clothing in your wardrobe that best represents you?
A crisp, white tapered shirt - because I’m really a simple guy. (Ed's note: Check out Alexei's Simple Boy Quiz)
Alexei's Cambridge Music Bag with embossed initials
What are the five things you can't leave home without?
A watch, my phone, a handkerchief, a pack of mints and my debit card. I try to be on time, easy to reach, minty fresh and prepared for anything.
What are you looking forward to when you move to New York City?
I’m so bored of Manila. Life is too slow. I can’t wait to try all the restaurants I read about in the New York Times or sample all the food trucks (I hear there’s a halal truck that serves the most awesome falafels). Last time I was in the Big Apple, I missed out on the Romanov Jewels exhibit so I’m expecting in the two (or so) years I’ll be there, I’ll get to see more exhibits and shows. I’d also love to clock in some time relaxing in Central Park with a good book and cupcakes from the Magnolia Bakery or people watch while seated on the steps of the New York Public Library.
I know being in New York at this phase in my life will be a completely new and different experience for me and I cant wait to savour every minute of it.
What will you miss the most about Manila?
I’ve met really awesome people this year, some of who I’ve become really close with. If I could stuff them all in my suitcase, I’d take them with me so we can experience New York together.
And the least?
What is there to miss about Manila? Definitely not the pothole-laden streets, incompetent drivers who don’t respect pedestrians and the heat. Since I’ll be living with relatives for a while, it’ll feel just like home.
What are you thankful for at the end of the day?
No matter how unproductive or productive it was, I’m glad I was still able to live it.
Thank you, Alexei