By Dom Galeon
Photos by Noel Pabalate
Video by David Clarence Rivera
Heart Evangelista is a household name in Philippine showbiz. I grew up seeing her on TV, I won’t deny it. But Heart—or Love Marie Ongpauco-Escudero—has seamlessly transformed herself over the years from artista to a genuinely talented visual artist. Since 2014, following her debut exhibition at the Ayala Museum, Love Marie has been showcasing her art in up to two collections every year, as well as in books and book collaborations, in bags, even in luggage. With a new partnership, this time with clothing brand Kamiseta, her art finds yet a new expression.
Last week, at the Manila House Private Members Club at the Bonifacio Global City, Kamiseta unveiled its LM for Kamiseta collection with a Fashion Week-worthy fashion show. It’s a collaboration featuring Heart’s paintings in clothes she designed for Kamiseta.
“It’s my first time to collaborate with a clothing brand that is as big as Kamiseta, and to see my paintings printed on the clothing. These are two things I love the most: fashion and art. So this is very special,” Heart tells me. “I had all the freedom. It was nice because I used my paintings from 2014 all the way to the present.”
Not everyone gets the chance to combine two things they love the most, so LM for Kamiseta is indeed special for Heart, with her beautiful paintings splashed, so to speak, on designs that reflect her glamorous and elegant lifestyle. It’s chic fashion coupled with sophisticated art.
“I love the pleated skirts,” Heart says, when asked which her favorite is among the clothes. “All my favorite paintings are on the pleated skirts. I also like the only muted painting that I have, the black and white flowers, which is like a terno. I like that. I like it also because it’s one of only two paintings that I still have with me, so it’s very precious.”
Those pleated skirts were beautiful, made even more so by the paintings Heart chose to design them with. Throughout the flower-filled fashion show that featured each of these clothes—from shirts to dresses, each with one-word names like Elegance, Smile, Beauty, Paris, Wonder, Dainty, Happy, Love—it was very evident how special this collaboration is. Heart has done a number of partnerships and collabs with brands both local and international this year, and she considers this one a milestone.
“I think it is a milestone,” she explains. “For me to be identified as Heart the artista, and now that I’m doing other things, I think it is a milestone. You start to do other things that you love. You know, when you’re in showbiz, you tend to get your heart broken many times. You need to start doing things that can be there forever. I think my number one savior was my art. With art, it doesn’t matter if you’re not beautiful, or you’re not young anymore, and you’re not as celebrated as you were in the past. With art, the older you get, the more of a treasure you become. So I’m very, very happy about that.”
With art, it doesn’t matter if you’re not beautiful, or you’re not young anymore, and you’re not as celebrated as you were in the past. With art, the older you get, the more of a treasure you become.
The way Heart puts it, it sounds simple enough. Yet not everyone gets the chance to transition in a seemingly effortless manner, being known in one craft and trying one’s hand in another. I say seemingly effortless because, obviously Heart put a lot of, well, heart into everything she does.
“I think maybe because it wasn’t an effort or I didn’t really think about it that way,” says Heart. “I just wanted to paint and I didn’t think that it would become how it is today. I just kept on painting. I think it’s like that—when you really love something, you don’t force it. Beautiful things will happen. This is where the turn of events has brought me. Everything just fell into place. And I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m so glad with everything because that’s how I express myself, through my art. And then now people can wear it. It’s empowering and I love that.”
Heart began painting in earnest during a dark period in her life. Back then, it was a way to refocus herself and it was only in bad times that she found the compulsion to paint. In no time at all, from a compulsion, Heart has been able to turn her craft into a discipline. “But I still try to do everything from the heart. Each painting is still a labor of love,” she says. “I remember I saw this quote that said, it doesn’t matter if they don’t like your painting, you just keep on painting. And it only takes one painting at a time. I’m glad I just kept on painting. I’m glad that, no matter what I was going through, I didn’t stop doing what I loved. And now, we have so many prints to choose from.”
The LM for Kamiseta collection will soon be available in Kamiseta stores, but those present at the launch had a chance to buy ahead of everyone else. But don’t worry, there’s going to be plenty more for everybody. And the clothes featured at the exclusive fashion show are only the first among many other designs.
“We’ll just keep creating together. I’m so excited for the future collection. We’re already working on it,” Heart beams. “It’s very exciting because [Kamiseta] really gives me all the freedom to share what I love—the fit, the dress, the type of skirt, everything. We’ll be releasing more.”