Cover story co-stylists Wouri Vice and Daryl Chang on how Gabriella Wilson’s identity led the cover story’s fashion direction.
“This is not Gabi on a normal basis,” laughs Wouri Vice, H.E.R.’s longtime stylist and collaborator. “She’s not walking around, you know, completely glammed up like this but she allowed herself to embrace that space so that she could become what was needed for the shoot. We started in sweat suits.”
Wouri reveals this pre-shoot as H.E.R. gets ready for her closeup, and it’s not difficult to believe. After all, it was just yesterday that Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson, the woman behind award-winning musical act H.E.R., walked on-set of our first shoot day in denim cut-offs and a t-shirt made of recycled flour sacks.
This easygoing outfit is hardly astray from the singer’s distinguishable stage looks, those similarly laidback ensembles she favored in her early years as a mainstream artist. For a time, the H.E.R. uniform was characterized by slouchy sweatshirts, oversized t-shirts, and classic Nike Jordans. Years later, her wardrobe has expanded to include corsets and stilettos—items that spark an exciting, and at times unexpected, stylistic flair when paired with her core classics.
Keeping H.E.R.’s closet foundations at the top of mind, cover story co-stylists Wouri Vice and Vogue Philippines fashion editor Daryl Chang liken the cover story’s fashion direction to a union; a synthesis of two of the most defining facets of H.E.R.’s character, capturing the shades of culture that live within her. The sprawling and layered concept for it required a village to pull off and working with Wouri were DeAndre DaCosta, Isabella Conti, and Nicholas Carlo, while Daryl had the Vogue Philippines fashion team, Renee De Guzman and Ticia Almazan. Across timezones, the two teams brought together the concept to life.
H.E.R.’s mixed heritage.
“With the exception of maybe one or two looks, the designers [we pulled from] are primarily Filipino and African-American, which is Gabi’s composition. I think that’s really special that the clothes are representative of who she is,” says Wouri.
A standout piece was a white 40-pound frock from New York-based label Aliétte, which Wouri brought in hand-carried from the city. The embellished ruffle dress was designed by Jason Rembert, a revered African-American stylist who was previously Wouri’s assistant. “Being in a space where I’m pulling his clothes for Vogue,” Wouri muses, “that means the world to me.”
Back in Manila, Daryl’s assortment comprised a balanced range of established and emerging Filipino designers. Among them were fresh fashion graduates Nichicco Asilo and Sophia Tempongko, as well as veteran designer Inno Sotto, whose tangerine ball dress was photographed in a solar field, dancing with the wind.
The decision to predominantly exhibit Philippine-based designers was made early on. Daryl narrates, “Vogue Philippines is really a champion for local talent. We try to really showcase what we have to the world, and of course we’re very thankful also that Gabi can bring that to a bigger audience.”
Additionally, the presence of global fashion houses is a nod to H.E.R.’s international influence, with African-American and Filipino-designed looks being interspersed with the likes of Gucci, Jacquemus, and Giuseppe Zanotti.
Wouri and Daryl meet for the first time a day before the shoot, but their synergy is unmistakable. An international-local stylist tandem is rare, a harmonious one even so. But Wouri and Daryl brought in years of expertise, and more importantly, they shared the same goals. Before putting something on H.E.R., one asks the other what they think, and a dialogue ensues. The goal is always the best possible result: What will make H.E.R. feel the best? What will represent her the most accurately? What will challenge her aesthetic inclinations?
“It just all came together. It was a two-stylist story: one international and one local, so which is very H.E.R. also. And this story just actually became that. The fashion story was half international, half local, and you know you can’t even tell the difference between the two,” Daryl asserts. “I think that’s what we also want to push because you know, fashion is fashion regardless of where it comes from.”
Photographs By Shaira Luna. Fashion Director Pam Quiñones. Styling By Daryl Chang and Wouri Vice. Makeup: Marissa Vossen. Hair: Nina Mercado. Nails: Extraordinail. Art Director: Jann Pascua. Beauty Editor: Joyce Oreña. Producer: Anz Hizon. Production Design: Justine Arcega-Bumanlag. Production Assistant: Bianca Zaragoza, Adam Pereyra, and Celine Mallari. Photographer’s Assistant: Lance Luna, Albert Calaguasn and Kiko Calaguas. Stylist’s Assistant: Renee De Guzman, Ticia Almazan, DeAndre DaCosta, Isabella Conti, and Nicholas Carlo. Production Design Assistants: Jan Abal, John Amon, Mario Taipen, Olderico Bondoc, Geber Cunanan, Nick Narte, and Cesar Grande. Video Team: Andy Tan, Ashley Yee, Ken Tan, and Garren Bustarde of Chapters PH. Shot on location at Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija. Special thanks to Dr. Jean Cruz, Mayor Myca Vergara, Cong. Ria Vergara of the Local Government of Cabanatuan City, Aldrin Cerrado of ABS-CBN Global, Ray Brown, and Amal Mokhtar.
- February 2023