The cover shoot invited both talents to explore the contrast of their own styles and personalities.
Fashion has long been a medium for storytelling and identity, serving both as a mirror and document of the times and allowing us to dream and escape into fantasy. This is expressed on this month’s cover of Vogue Philippines, which paints a picture of balance through tension, masculine and feminine.
This is told through its models, Daniela Szpejna and Jasmyn Palombo. The two began their journey into fashion similarly; both, part of the Filipino diaspora, were scouted at a young age. Yet, for the March cover shoot, their own unique styles and personalities set both of them apart in harmonious contrast.
For Palombo, who grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, fashion is one of the many ways she expresses herself daily. “It almost feels like I’m portraying a certain character each day,” she tells Vogue Philippines, listing her go-to pieces; band tees, ripped jeans, leather, and combat boots. “The ’90s grunge era has always resonated with me, and I’ve always been quite rebellious.”
The Filipino-Hawaiian was discovered at a vegan festival back home in O’ahu. She moved to New York shortly after to pursue a career in modeling, and quickly found herself working with some of the biggest names in fashion, from Calvin Klein to Laquan Smith, Vogue Hong Kong to Vogue Australia. “My life is so last minute and spontaneous most of the time,” she says. “I could be traveling to a different country for a photo shoot by tomorrow in just one phone call or email.”
Palombo says that, although she never thought she would be in fashion, she was always an artsy kid. She grew up close to her Filipino roots, thanks to her grandmother. “She was always cooking authentic Filipino food, speaking to me in Tagalog and Ilocono, and always kept up with her TFC dramas,” the model reminisces.
For her, being on the cover of Vogue Philippines was a dream come true. “Not only am I honored to be on the cover, but I got to visit the country my ancestors are from for the first time. I was able to connect with a part of my identity and grow an even deeper adulation for my Filipino roots.”
Palombo’s grunge, rulebreaker style was a great complement to her fellow cover model, Daniela Szpejna. The young Polish-Filipino talent from Gdańsk describes her style as more centered on comfort and ease, though she has no problem moving from tomboyish outfits to more feminine and elegant looks.
“[I was] never into fashion, however being in this industry, it’s difficult not to find it compelling,” she says. “Entering the fashion world showed me that my differences are what makes me special. Fashion makes me feel like I belong.”
Szpejna tells us that the shoot for Vogue Philippines was actually the first time she got to meet her Filipino family. Before then, what she knew of her mother’s home country were the stories she was told. “She never let go of her Filipino identity, proudly introducing me to Filipino food and customs,” Szpejna says.
“Being in a country I’ve been hearing about my entire life was not only unbelievable, but it also felt soothing and familiar, as I feel strongly connected to the Philippines,” she explains. “I’ve never imagined that a family can be so huge! So full of love and laughter…I feel Filipino, as much as I feel Polish.”
Both Palombo and Szpejna’s personal histories and experiences were crucial in shaping the cover story, which centered on the harmony between masculine and feminine eclecticism. This allowed for the exploration of duality through fashion, exposing the essential interplay between hard and soft, reality and fantasy.
There lies the true essence of fashion; the pursuit of one’s identity, and the endless perspectives that contribute to that idea.
Photographer: Sharif Hamza. Fashion Director: Pam Quiñones. Makeup: Robbie Piñera. Hair: Raymond Santiago. Model: Daniela Szpejna, Jasmyn Palombo. Art Director: Jann Pascua. Producer: Anz Hizon. Multimedia Artist: Gabbi Constantino. Production Assistant: Bianca Zaragoza. Photographer’s Assistant: Artu Nepomuceno, Lourenco Narciso, Shiela Mae Gonzales. Stylist’s Assistant: Renee De Guzman, Adam Pereyra, Karina Swee. Video: Kenneth Tan, Ashley Yee, Andromeda Tan of Chapters PH. Shot on location in Batangas and Sta. Rosa. Special thanks to Okada Manila, Anton Mendoza and Carol Karthe.