HAVING met and interviewed a number of fashion designers is definitely something that I love to do, especially that I get to know a number of things about them and the industry.

Last week, the experience was different. I felt excited that the one I was interviewing is a Davao-based fashion designer who has been dressing up some of our biggest celebrities today. In fact, invitations from different movie outfits and television networks for him to be their designer have been coming in.

John Michael Chiu or "Xioti" of Famo Xiete Co. is a young and promising designer who started his career in fashion design at the age of 17. With his determination and utmost commitment to continuously become relevant in the industry, coupled with hard work and unending learning, you will surely be awed as well by this designer of the stars.

Read on to learn more about him.

FN: Who is Xioti Chiu?

They call me "Xioti" and in Chinese it means younger brother. At the age of 17, I already started designing gowns and some innovative creations. And although I was still an inexperienced designer then, I still joined competitions bringing with me just my raw talent and creative imagination. I am a celebrity fashion designer, a fashion instructor at the Fashion Institute of the Philippines and Philippine Women's College, and the owner of Famo Xiete Co., an atelier.

FN: What motivated you to be a designer?

By profession, I am actually a nurse but ever since my passion has really been in fashion.

I believe that it doesn't matter what degree you have but it is all about threading your dream that will make you whole. In designing, I just don't want to make beautiful pieces but to instill the philosophy behind dressing up beautifully.

FN: What's your inspiration in coming up with your designs?

I know that fashion involves ideas, designs and clothing. However, I draw my inspiration from the essence of how we do things, whether right or wrong, because in fashion there is no such thing as a perfect dress or a perfect wear to see. Sometimes, committing a mistake in design can actually lead to a new innovation or idea.

FN: Basically, what are your designs for?

There is no specific thing that I like to design. For me, as a designer, we have to be versatile enough to create from simple to complex. And we need to know our capacity in executing our designs, because the idea of liking is lesser but the idea of loving is far better. So you have to love your designs and you will be loved by your designs as well. That's how I see things.

FN: What are the materials that you usually use?

I usually use neoprene and neocrepe fabrics or other unconventional fabrics, even my linings or undergarment base fabrics are kind of expensive. I see to it that my garments, both inside and out, are in good quality and worth the price. Lining pa langdapat ay mahalna because your design speaks of who and what you are as a designer!

FN: Who are you clients?

I don't have a specific target market for clientele as long as they trust me and my designs. I always take with me the motto: "Good Work aint Cheap, Cheap Work aint Good."

But to name a few, Lourd Ramos (Asia's next top model judge, and Ambassador of Tresemme shampoo), Nicole Bian, Carmencita Sioson, Bianca Sing (fashion stylist), Andre Chang (fashion stylist), and My MOM, who is also my number 1 fan!

FN: How was your experience with Project Runway? Why did you decide not to pursue it anymore?

I definitely had a great experience with Project Runway. Being chosen as one of the finalists to represent Davao City is already a big achievement. I have proven that Dabawenyos do have an enormous talent when it comes to fashion and we are also globally competitive.

But the sad part is I can't serve two masters at the same time. Giving up doesn't mean an end, rather it speaks of courage and bravery to accept more responsibility in order to grow as a person. Well, I need to be hands-on when it comes to my business.

FN: So far, what do you consider as your ultimate achievement as a designer?

Not yet! I will only say that I already have, indeed, a great achievement as a designer or as an instructor if someday my student will be better than me, and not just as good as me. It just means that I'm certainly an effective mentor to them.

FN: Who among the celebrities that you have dressed up, so far?

I have already dressed up Marian Rivera-Dantes, Heart Evangelista-Escudero, Lovi Poe, G. Toengi, Rachelle Ann Go (Ms. Saigon), Lourd Ramos, JanicelLubina (Bb. Pilipinas International 2015), Princess Snell, Dawn Jimenez, and Jasmine Curtis-Smith.

I have fashion stylist friends from the entertainment industry who would pull out some of my designs whenever I am in Manila. They would always look for my designs and every time I have new designs, they invite me to dress up celebrities either for primetime teleserye or movies.

Right now, I have an invitation to dress up Heart Evangelista-Escudero, and Lovi Poe once again for their upcoming teleserye, and also Jennylyn Mercado and Sam Milby for a movie which will be shot in New York.

FN: Any message for the aspiring designers?

I always follow what my mentor taught me before, to be an INDIVIDUAL. Individuality, 'yung kailangan marunong silang maging iba, maging genuine, maging original, maging unique. To stand out. To leave a mark. Every time I sketch, I see to it that I create my own inspiration and never copy someone else's work. As a designer, you have to understand every detail and inputs of your designs. In every creation, there must always be a story behind.

To be lined up with the celebrities who have been dressed up by this Dabawenyo designer, visit Famo Xiete Co. at Door L-7, Valencia Corp. Arellano Street corner Jacinto Extension, Davao City, just right at the back of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas building. You may contact him at 09163158367 or 09324294275.

Please allow me to greet this brilliant friend. Advance happy birthday, Xioti!


If you have special events and fashion tips to share or just want to discuss about any fashion and lifestyle-related stories with me, you are always free to reach me at mendoza.jennygrace@gmail.com.