This interview happens on a lazy Sunday afternoon at the Edsa Shangri-la Hotel, another wet and gray day, perfect as most Sundays go. It is also, incidentally, exactly just five days after Randy Ortiz’s birthday celebration in his cozy Makati pad. I mention that because almost half of the people present in the room now were also present there. Same cast — John Estrada, Ogie Alcasid and Richard Gomez, plus a handful of others — they were all there. Then there was as much food as there were drinks, and even more good wishes than there were guests, even if the latter ran aplenty. And as it always is when Randy throws a get-together, the mood is casual, fun and light, punctuated by lots of raucous laughter. It was an evening that stretched way into the wee hours of the morning, with whatever that was left of the rich dinner already presenting itself desirably as breakfast food. A highlight of the evening, as we all would find out the following day, was Ogie falling into Randy’s little fountain by the foyer, and breaking it. It was something that did not bother the birthday boy one bit. This Sunday is not much different. There is an abundance of food — pizza, fat sandwiches stuffed with bacon and scrambled egg, freshly baked banana bread from the hotel’s resident bakeshop, pancit canton, a couple of boxes of handmade chocolate that were a giveaway from a christening affair that Chechel Joson, the makeup artist, had attended the day before.
It could very well be the same set-up from five days ago except that there were no hard drinks and there was no fountain for Ogie, or anyone else for that matter, to fall into. The mood is, once again, light and easy, which is good. It is a weekend, after all, when we all try to recharge as much as we can in preparation for the autopilot mode we operate on the moment Monday rolls in. It is easy to see that Randy and the three men in smart suits go a long way back. Theirs is a friendship first, an informal but solid fashion partnership next. A lot of ribbing bounces back and forth easily in between the test shots; there are a lot of private jokes, too. They are rough on each other’s feelings but everyone is good-natured about it. Carino brutal — that is only possible among really good friends. The boys, especially John and Richard, sheepishly admit that Randy was privy to all the women they loved before. Even those you did not love, Randy interjects with delight. But his lips are sealed, and the most he will say is that he has seen the boys on the prowl and being prowled upon. To change the subject they mercilessly tease Randy about how his hair is fixed, or unfixed as the case was (to which Randy says “Mga hayop kayo!”). Ogie often kids Randy about the latter’s lovelife and his (supposedly) nonexistent sex life. Somewhere within the afternoon the others discover that once upon a time Ogie had for a girlfriend this famous sexy star that every other man was eyeing. Sorry, I can’t tell you who; besides, that happened a long time ago… but she was/is gorgeous. When you look at the photos in this spread, the boys/men looking serious and dangerous in their smart suits, hair slicked back, you wonder what they are thinking, or maybe even just what they are looking at as they pose for the camera. I do not have to wonder; I know what they see. They are captivated by the spectacle that is the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics. We all watch as China makes history. Ogie wonders out loud where to buy the fancy bike that ingeniously operates within a glowing orb. He does his own brand of gymnastics, pointing his toes while he is sprawled on the floor. Everyone laughs. Even off-cam he is charming and is a natural comic. The photographer takes more shots. The men change clothes two more times. Before long, it is all over. We scroll through the photos. Looks good. It is easy to see just how much of a strong sensibility Randy has for easy dressing. He has that down pat. He makes a man look spiffy in the same way that he always knows how to make a woman look pretty. Like his personality, the clothes have warmth; they are easy. I like that, despite all the texture and details he tastefully incorporates into his design, the finished product is not complicated. He simply knows how to make a man look like a man, and a woman look like a woman. That’s the way it should be. It has been 20 years since Randy’s last major show. I ask him 20 questions, and he obliges spontaneously, on this lazy Sunday afternoon.
1. LUCY TORRES-GOMEZ: What for you is the best way to spend a Sunday? RANDY ORTIZ: Sleep until lunch time. Get a big lunch. And then sleep again and watch The Buzz and Showbiz Central. And then go to Mass, have a big dinner and spa.
2. What are you most proud of in your work? My work attitude. I’m creative but professional. I’m very shallow when it comes to finding inspiration — nothing so profound, it is mostly realistic and unpretentious. The finished product is a lot better than my illustrations though! (laughs)
3. How do you feel knowing you are one of the few designers whose clientele is established for both men and women? It is very rewarding because I get to do both. My market has become so varied and that is something that fulfills and challenges me at the same time. Not all designers are given the chance to specialize in clothes for men and women simultaneously.
4. What took you so long to stage another gala like this? I think it’s about time, after 10 years. I’m glad Metro Publishing and Samsung is helping me fulfill this dream project.
5. What was your state of mind when you started working on this creation? And what’s your state of mind now? Then: Cluttered with a lot of things, but I was very aware of what moved or inspired me. My senses were wide open and I found my thoughts stimulated by most anything and everything, depending on what the particular moment meant to me. Now: Pretty excited. Seeing the clothes gives me the jitters, it is all so near, and so real… but I am still very tense.
6. What do you think it will be on the day of the show? Scared. Nervous, definitely.
7. What is the best part of your work? I love working with my fabrics. Some I actually hand-carry home from my travels. Touching them, and then translating them into beautiful clothes. That’s how it always begins. Seeing the finished product is another experience altogether. And making the clients feel good about themselves because of what they are wearing never fails to excite me. I often say that if only for that, everything has been worth it.
8. What will you never use in your designs? I will never use the design of another designer and copy it and call it my own.
9. What’s one fashion trend you were never fond of? I never liked grunge. Hip-hop, not for me.
10. What do you plan to do right after the show? Take some really good rest. But I still have weddings lined up. I’m already planning a short trip to Bangkok with my family, and Jackie Aquino maybe.
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