By Nicole De Los Reyes
Images by Noel Pabalate
Hair and makeup by Leigh David
2019 was an eventful year for Patricia Santos.
She transferred her atelier to a newer, more chic location in BGC, launched PS Officiel, a ready-to-wear line of dreamy romantic gowns, held her first solo fashion show, and got engaged.
It’s been a busy afternoon for the young designer. When I ask her about all the things she’s accomplished this year she sighs and says, “It’s funny how that happened! I kept telling myself that after the opening of my atelier, I would change my pace to something more…you know, relaxed!”
The relocation was the first of many significant moves that Patricia has taken in the last two years to expand her designer label into one of the most prestigious brands for bridal and evening events in the metro.
“I just felt it was about time,” she says. “I wanted to take our business to the next level, and it felt aligned with my plans for future growth. It’s always been my mindset to continuously improve myself.”
The new space is upscale yet it still feels welcoming. One walks into a spacious anteroom with cozy armoires and two luxurious fitting rooms. Soft white curtains shade the large floor-to-ceiling windows, and there is a stack of fashion books on the coffee table, stylish reading for hopeful brides waiting to be accommodated into Patricia’s busy schedule.
There are whimsical, unique touches here and there. A swing hangs romantically between Patricia’s desk and couch in her office. It’s all perfectly photogenic, which is probably the exact experience the designer intended, since what is a bride’s wedding dress fitting if not an Instagram-worthy moment?
Within these walls she’s dressed celebrity A-listers such as Kim Chiu, Kathryn Bernardo, and Liza Soberano. She counts loyal clients such as Megan Bata, Lovi Poe, and Bela Padilla as dear friends. She’s gained fans out of It girls Martine Cajucom, Jess Wilson, and Bea Soriano for her sexy yet elegant silhouettes that highlight the beauty and femininity of the wearer.
“I’ve been really lucky during the seven years I’ve worked as a designer,” Patricia says. “I’ve been really blessed. It’s nice because it doesn’t feel like it’s just all business. At heart, it’s about women supporting each other… supporting other female-led businesses that they truly believe in.”
She’s quick to remind everyone, though, that beyond the picture-perfect surface of things, it has been a tough road getting to where she is.
At heart, it’s about women supporting each other… supporting other female-led businesses that they truly believe in.
“Two and a half years ago, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer,” she candidly reveals. “At the time, I told myself that I wouldn’t allow it to get the best of me. I fought my battle with the illness and, for a while, the cancer went into remission. I was cleared.”
Unknown to the public, her sickness reappeared right at the time she was just finishing her new atelier. “It was more painful to hear the news the second time around,” she says. “I was crushed. I felt like I had so much more to lose.”
Through it all, she continued to work. Later on, when she finally shared what happened, some people commented that they had no idea that she was sick.
“I was advised to stop working, but I felt like I couldn’t,” she says. “It was like asking me to stop my life. Work was really what kept me going at the time. I didn’t share the news of my illness right away. I didn’t want anyone to get the impression that I was incapable. Now that I’m better, I started telling my story. I remember how it was to feel alone and hopeless, and not know what to do.”
“It surprises me what an impact it’s had on others,” she says. “I get messages from people experiencing the same thing. One mother told me she had a daughter who had to go into surgery. After reading my story, she wasn’t as afraid to go through with it anymore.”
In an era dominated by social media, she says it can feel like there’s an illusion that everyone else is living such a perfect life and you aren’t. “I wanted to show others that it’s not embarrassing to go through struggles because everyone has their own,” she says.
At the moment, Patricia is looking forward to some exciting developments for 2020. She recently started offering internships to aspiring designers, and she’s also working on developing her line to become more sustainable.
On top of all that, the most exciting development of all is definitely her upcoming wedding, which she is planning for 2021. “I think it would also be really nice to slow down a bit and find more time to focus on myself,” she says.
“When I first started out, it was a struggle. I was down to the last ₱3,000 in my bank account,” she says. “There was an upcoming bridal fair, and even if I wasn’t a bridal designer at the time, I prayed to God and said, ‘Please, give me a sign if this is really meant for me!’”
That weekend, she booked 10 brides. It was the beginning of the fashion career that Patricia enjoys today.
Definitely, Patricia Santos lives a life that many may describe as #blessed. But it’s not because she’s lived a life of all ups and no downs. It’s because of everything she’s made out of her circumstances, through sheer hard work and the occasional leap of faith.
psofficiel.com | Facebook and Instagram: @psofficielthelabel
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