Fashion, probably more than any other industry, celebrates uniqueness. Along with its relentless desire for evolution, it is also sprouting out a new crop of talents into the scene. Paving their own paths, and in their own terms, they are driven to become the modern innovators of the industry. A brand new age of fashion is upon us, and it is as exciting as ever.
Highlighting individualism and artistry, this is a series where I talk to Filipino talents from the fashion scene today. Exploring it as both an industry and art form, we get to see it all through their own unique eyes. From inspirations to aspirations, Fashion Chika with… celebrates their devotion and craft—all fueled by their passion for fashion.
One of High Fashion Twitter’s most creative figures, Asaliah Reiiel Reyes is the emerging style icon that everyone needs to see right now!
Mixing knowledge and his own poetic sensibility within his craft, Asaliah Reiiel Reyes’ enthusiasm and passion for fashion are infectious and magnetic. As part of the notoriously-candid High Fashion Twitter community, the 22-year old Filipino creative is outspoken about what he feels about the industry, especially during fashion week. And, not to mention, he is also open in sharing his many fashion inspirations on the platform.
What or who got you into having a passion for fashion?
Honestly, it’s a very difficult question to answer because I can’t pinpoint the exact source of it. It started out as an interest when I was a kid—seeing fashion on certain characters on TV shows like Harper from Wizards of Waverly Place, Ashley Tisdale from High School Musical, and most of the characters from “Winx Club” and Totally Spies.
When I was a pre-teen, I became a lot more focused on accessories and 90’s Japanese street fashion, which then shifted to Korean men’s fashion as a teen. But when I met an ex-friend of mine in senior high school, I was introduced to the world of haute couture and drag race. I was never exposed to that before and just seeing the kind of artistry in those two things was mind-blowing and exciting.
I guess up to that point, it was building up to become my passion because right after being exposed to haute couture and drag it was just a total culture reset for me. It was quickly followed by an obsessive hunger to learn more about them, haute couture especially. Which was actually one of the reasons why I joined the High Fashion Twitter community. Besides this, I was watching films and TV shows about fashion and drag—learning about the history and watching commentary Youtube videos on runway shows or industry icons. I also was reading articles about collections along with researching about my favorite high fashion designers. All of these made me realize that there are so much more that you can do with fashion—and I chose to pursue and continue to pursue that potentiality.
Over the years, I’ve seen you create beautiful outfits, edgy makeup looks, and as well as impressive art projects from your plates at the University of the Philippines. You literally do everything—like a polymath. Where do you get this abundance of creativity?
I appreciate that you see me as a polymath, I often forget how much I’m capable of. My abundance of creativity comes from having a mental reservoir of knowledge and references on art and fashion, as well as knowledge about interests that are outside of those two things (such as houseplants or dinosaurs). I want to emphasize the latter because that’s what I learned from one of my favorite fashion Youtubers, Justine Leconte. If I remember correctly, she said that “in order to have a more original fashion collection, you have to pull inspiration from things outside of fashion.” Instead of a fashion collection, I apply it to every creative work that I choose to do. I think it’s important for artists to spend more time exploring hobbies or interests that are totally different from the kind of art that they do, because that is often where inspiration for their art can be found.
Aside from that, it’s also important for me to research and learn about art and fashion. I’ve already been taught the history & fundamentals of art as a graduating Fine Arts-Painting student, but I make sure to relearn them and expose myself to more art—either virtually or by physically going to local art galleries, exhibits, and openings. I do my own research on learning about the history and fundamentals of fashion and fashion design. I listen to a fashion history podcast and subscribe to expert fashion design Youtubers. I watch or look at fashion shows/collections, as well as read about fashion history and fashion design. I want to learn as much as I can about art and fashion so that it’ll help enhance my skills in these two things. So it all boils down to expanding your horizons beyond your passions, and doing research on your passions.
Probably one of your best moments so far is your contribution to 2021’s HF Twitter Visual Met Gala. Your eerie and twisted interpretation of the theme was and still is so cleverly poetic. Can you take me deeper into your thought process of that?
Thank you so much for recognizing and understanding my work and its intent. The lightbulb moment occurred after I had read the theme introduction of the 2021 HF Twitter Visual Met Gala. What stuck with me the most was the sentence: “We name the unnamable terrors that lurk in the shadows in a desperate attempt to eliminate them from ourselves.” This became the pitch to the story that was forming in my head as I started to relate it to my own relationship with myself. I knew that my self-hatred was growing at an unexpected rate because I kept having flashbacks of my own mistakes, bad behaviors that I continue to keep, and extremely humiliating events—which all caused me to be absolutely ashamed of myself at that point in my life. I realized how I’ve kept on distracting myself from confronting this issue, and just faking this self-confident, self-love façade.
This pushed me to delve deeper into my introspection, which was already happening a lot during the pandemic. I desperately wanted to find out the why of it all—tracing back all of my experiences with the relationships that impacted my own relationship with myself the most. After I had started to identify the source of my own inner demons, it commenced this whole healing and unpacking of my own traumas through a journey (which was coincidentally called “Shadow Work” in the spiritual community) and I wanted to make art out of it.
I basically used the theme introduction as a guide to the visual compositions of my entry, especially since I felt that the whole body of text made me confront what I had been ignoring and holding off. So, it was an artwork that was heavily comprised of my own personal narrative. Creating this made me more motivated to make more and continue to use art as a way to express my own “Shadow Work” journey. And this gave birth to my “Inner Demon” series.
With you possessing this strong sense of uniqueness and overflowing with so much creativity, what advice can you give to anyone currently finding their own creative lane and vision?
I would say that trying out and learning new creative skills or interests will lead you to it. Keep experimenting with what interests you until you find the ones that fill you with joy & excitement during the process, and leave you feeling fulfilled after doing them. But it doesn’t necessarily have to give you both, because things that you’re passionate about will not always make you happy during the process or fulfilled afterwards. What’s important is that it adds value to your life.
Also, don’t think that you have to be chained into one specific skill or niche to form a solid ‘identity’. Remember that you are a multidimensional human being that is constantly changing, thus capable of being multi-faceted.
And for the final question, what’s next for Asaliah Reiiel Reyes?
I don’t want to give away too much, but definitely a lot more creative art-meets-fashion content! Aside from this, I am excited to share to the world my undergraduate art thesis soon. It’s a very personal work about my trauma from being bullied for being queer, and how Christian institutions play a huge role in it. I know that this is a work that will resonate with the LGBTQIA+ community, and I hope that this is one of the legacies I leave for my community as I continue the fight for us to have a world where we can be safe, accepted, loved, have civil rights and gay marriage. This is one of my main motivators as a visual artist that is thinking of entering the local art scene/world.
Besides that, I will continue to expand my interests and find more things to be passionate about. I never know what life has in store for me, but I’m excited about where my passions & creativity will take me.
Asaliah Reiiel Reyes is a constant explorer in the world of fashion. He is always willing to traverse through bumpy roads and high mountains if that’ll lead him to learning more about the industry and the art form. And we’re so glad that he’s taking us into this creative journey.
A fourth-year fine arts college student in the University of Santo Tomas, majoring in advertising. Nathan usually does extensive research on fashion and runway history, film, music and pop culture, with a strong eagerness to learn more.