While waiting for Kim Chiu to arrive at Patricia Santos’ French-inspired atelier on the day of our digital cover shoot, I realized that I had no idea what to expect. Since it was my first time to work with her, the uncertainty of my expectations were tainted by two contrasting things: first, from what I had seen of her growing up—countless interviews, movies, billboards, magazine features that emphasized her sweet, jovial personality—and second, from the notion that celebrity culture in the Philippines can sometimes push an individual to play a certain role. I would shortly find out how I got this all wrong.
From afar, I spot our cover star enter the doors of the studio and walk up to her. “Hi, I’m Kim,” she says with an inviting smile and an outstretched arm, breaking the ice by cracking a joke as she meets the rest of the team. As I talk to her later on, I realize that she is refreshingly consistent on and off the camera. While I’m not exactly sure how rare this is in the industry, it is certainly impressive.
After Kim’s makeup artist Jake Galvez and hairstylist MJ Rone work their magic to create a dreamy, romantic look on her, it is time for her to do what she does best: shine in front of the camera—in this case, photographer Shaira Luna’s lens. With Spotify’s BLACKPINK playlist as the shoot’s background music (the star’s current favorite artist), the two work effortlessly together, almost as if they could read each others’ minds.
For the shoot, Kim wears pieces from PS Officiel The Label, designer and MEGA Young Designers Competition alumni Patricia Santos’ new ready-to-wear collection. What truly makes this line stand out is what it stands for, as everything is made of natural fibers such as pure cotton, pure silk and pure linen, making it completely biodegradable. While it still has the designer’s signature femininity and elegance, PS Officiel also showcases modern pieces. “In the Philippine market, not too many people are aware of what sustainable fashion is. With this line, we want to bring awareness to that. Everything is handmade and there are usually 2-4 per piece in stock so we don’t mass produce,” shares Tinni Garbes, the line’s co-designer.
This isn’t the first time Kim has worn Patricia Santos. In fact, she considers her one of her favorite designers, wearing her pieces on television guestings and red carpet events. “Actually, it started when my stylist Adrianne Concepcion introduced her to me. Girly and feminine siya, so it fits my look,” shares the star as she gets her makeup done.
Having been in the industry for quite some time now, she is more interested in fashion than ever, with a better understanding of her personal style. “I know what I want now. If someone would suggest an outfit I don’t think is very me, I now say no. You have to know yourself. Pangit naman if the clothes wear you,” she says. When I ask if there is anything she wouldn’t wear, she is quick to reply. “Hmm, wala naman. I like to experiment from time to time. Now is the time that we can explore. Nowadays, kahit on a normal day, everyone is always so fashionable and Instagram ready,” she adds.
In addition to this, Kim also has a stronger sense of self when it comes to her career. When asked about how she is able to stay relevant in the industry after all these years, she replies, “Sometimes, you have to go with the flow. It’s important that you’re open to trying out kung ano yung uso, but make sure to do things with your own style.” The star adds how important it is to highlight what makes you unique as well and not simply imitate other poeple. “There’s something special in everyone,” she says.
Kim also brings up the changes she has observed since winning the first teenage edition of Pinoy Big Brother back in 2006. “I used to find it harder to keep up when Instagram and other platforms were getting popular. Dati, television and magazines lang yung kailangan to find out the latest trends. Palaging may excess baggage pa ako during my travels dahil sa mga magazines,” she says with a laugh. But as she mentioned earlier, she knew it would benefit her to keep up. After trying it out, she eventually learned to make use of social media in her own personal way. Now, she likes to share tidbits of her life, whether it be her latest #OOTD or special moments with her on- and off-screen partner Xian Lim. “Mas reachable ka to your fans. I love that,” she adds.
Before the interview ends, I ask Kim what she would tell her younger self when she was starting out in showbiz. “Good job,” she says after thinking about it for a few seconds, adding, “I used to do everything myself, even the styling. So that helped me talaga to be able to find out what I want. So that’s what I would tell myself—‘You did a great job.’”