The 25-year-old creative also talks keeping looks fresh, forward and sometimes experimental
“Have you seen Nadine Lustre’s latest look on her Insta?!” I remember typing in a message earlier this year. This would be the first of many oh-my-god-did-you-see’s I’d send friends, pointing out the distinct new direction she and her stylist seemed to be taking. Granted it’s always interesting to see what the actress and her team cook up (particularly since Nadine took the reins on her career as a self-managed artist), there was something about her sartorial choices starting February that made keeping an eye out twice as thrilling.
As it turns out, this is thanks, in part, to 25-year-old Lyn Alumno: a fashion associate at MEGA Magazine by day and freelance fashion stylist, well, all other times. And she and Lustre probably make the most exciting stylist-celebrity tandem to watch out for in 2020.
It’s difficult to believe that working in fashion was initially not in the cards for Alumno. “My dad wanted me to be a volleyball player,” she begins. “As for my mom, she always dreamt of me being a flight attendant because of my height.” At university, she took the advertising track and busied herself with things like making music, drawing and playing basketball––fashion still but an idea to maybe one day explore. “Even then, I’d show up to these events and my friends would always tell me that I was ‘too dressed up,’ which I never believed,” she says. “Because again, it just felt normal to me.”
Finally giving this natural inclination a shot, Alumno went from joining various fashion design contests and then to selecting fashion design as her undergrad thesis and, ultimately, to taking up Styling and Trend and Textile Forecasting at Central Saint Martins.
Back in Manila, she found her footing in one of the country’s major fashion magazines. This is where she would meet Nadine Lustre. It was after collaborating on a series of magazine covers that their work relationship organically bloomed. Talking about their first shoot together, though, Alumno shares: “It was nerve-racking because I had just joined MEGA and I didn’t have any contacts. Nor did I have years’ worth of experience with any senior stylist in Manila.” She recalls applying to almost all the top styling teams but being turned down. With a project of this magnitude falling into her hands, she decided that what she’d lack in experience, she’d make up for in preparation. “I overprepared for that shoot to be honest,” she says. “But seeing how everyone loved it made all those emotional breakdowns worth the pain.”
This match made in heaven meant repeat collabs down the line. And soon, their friendship developed outside of hours in the studio, work projects and hustling on-set. “Once we started working on her album, she trusted me enough with handling the storytelling and narrative not just through the clothes but the beauty direction as well with the help of her glam team, Jelly Eugenio and Paul Nebres,” she explains. “Nadine even kept her hair long! That’s how dedicated she is when it comes to the things she’s passionate about.”
At the end of the day, Alumno says, the synergy feels like work and play all at once, marked by “no bad vibes and no diva moments” and jokes about how she now sees Lustre more than she sees her own boyfriend given their work.
Wonder: How did your partnership with Nadine Lustre begin?
Lyn Alumno: Every time she had a shoot with the magazine I work for, I’d be assigned to it since our aesthetic is similar. From what I remember, I think I styled five of her covers and an editorial with Skechers. When she launched her first collaboration with H&M last year, I was surprised the brand approached me to talk about the curation of the products alongside her. It wasn’t until our shoot in Brazil when she asked if I could officially style her from then on. Now, we’re working on her album and Cool Girl Projects––a collective that she founded.
W: Coming into it, what were some of the ideas you were excited to pursue with her? Any particular look or direction you wanted to explore?
LA: I can’t reveal much since there’s a lot to look out for in the coming months. But all I can say is the moment I started styling Nadine, I veered away from the kind of street style she’s been known for and injected both experimental and high fashion. She liked the styling I did in Brazil, which was a more streamlined and elevated version of her current style. I’ve been introducing local designers and brands to her (especially new ones), too, since a lot of them deserve more recognition.
W: What’s the collaboration process like? How do you make sure that for those on the outside looking in, the styling is familiar but elevated and new?
LA: I’m a freak for researching (laughs). Even before I hit the sack, I can’t help but look at undiscovered brands on different platforms like Twitter, Instagram and, of course, Pinterest. It’s just how my mind works. In terms of style being relatable, that will always be there. I didn’t completely reset Nadine’s style DNA as she already knows what she wants. Most times, we would randomly send each other photos that we see of clothes or new brands we should tap for future shoots or shows. I just guide her with the silhouettes that best work for her and push her to try experimental styles and unexpected color combinations.
W: What are some of the rules you style by when working with Nadine?
LA: Honestly, there are no rules and that’s what I like about working with her. She trusts me enough with the direction I’ve created in every shoot we have––whether it’s a commercial shoot or passion project. But at the same time, she’s hands-on when it comes to every single detail. I guess the only pet peeve she has at the moment is wearing hot pink. LOL.
W: Would you say that the looks you create are experimental? If so, how experimental is too experimental?
LA: It’s funny because there was one commercial shoot we did where I created a deck for the fashion direction and the feedback I got was that I should tone it down because the styling was too Mad Max or high fashion. To us, it was normal since we’re both unafraid to explore different styles. But I guess, to others, it may come off as too shocking and out of the norm (laughs).
But then again, with Nadine, you’ll never know what to expect. She always surprises me with how down she is to wear the clothes I put on her––to the point of her being in wearable art (soon!).
W: What would you say are some of the foolproof silhouettes, pieces, or colorways that you and Nadine gravitate toward?
LA: Our go-to pieces involve denim, leather, black, white and neutrals. The key is balancing one thing over another. If you think what you’re wearing is too casual, throw something unexpected or a bit streamlined like a blazer with biker shorts or a leather jacket over a plain white tee.
Fashion should always be fun and effortless. There are no rules––only “rule makers” and “rule breakers.”
Featured Images Zon Lee
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver