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Face Off With Norman San Diego

By Kristel Dacumos-Lagorza

A glance at the latest holiday collection of San Diego’s Fashion Art and Bodies (FAB) offers a glimpse into the wildly imaginative mind of young designer Norman San Diego. The powerful portraits and prints burst with vibrant hues and exude boldness. In the words of the artiste himself, “My designs are very in your face.”

Today, San Diego’s FAB is worn not only by fashion forward youth but by celebrities, from the likes of Lea Salonga to GMA’s bedimpled darling, Alden Richards. Norman’s designs have also been proudly donned by other up-and-coming personalities such as Lourd Ramos, Yam Concepcion and StartStruck’s Ryza Cenon. But he is most thankful to Vice Ganda, who introduced his brand to the mainstream audience.  “I am very grateful to Vice because he doesn’t only wear my designs, I can feel that he really loves them,” beams the 26-year-old designer/entrepreneur.

Indeed, as early as now, one can say that Norman San Diego is proving to be a serious artist to be reckoned with.

While many designers discovered their creative passions at a young age – while dabbling with paints, scribbling sketches on scraps of paper or even, while playing dress up as kids – Norman realized his “designer’s touch” much later. In fact, he only discovered his creative inklings while finding ways to kill his boredom in college.

While studying Hotel & Restaurant Management at Lyceum of Subic Bay, Norman and his fashion-keen friends would often set up “play dates,” shooting full fashion editorials for fun in their spare time. “As a style enthusiast, I taught myself the basics of photography, and eventually, I learned the complexity of it. Photography was initially just a hobby, but it has since become my life line.  I shoot whenever I’m stressed or when there’s a lot going on in my mind. It is an outlet for me,” he reveals.

Vice Ganda wearing FAB

In time, his portfolio of work, which included the editorials he and his friends produced, was getting nods from style editors of mainstream fashion magazines in Manila. He did audition for Mega Fashion Crew a few years ago, but he didn’t get the break he was expecting.

Instead, he focused his energies covering fashion week for publications as an event photographer. This gave him the invaluable opportunity to mingle with the industry’s power players and creative minds. Here, he found inspiration as well as courage to explore a new facet of himself as an artist – this time as a designer.

The designer with Lourd Ramos wearing his designs for FAB

He was confident in his decision. Instead of his works being confined to the pages of a magazine, they were to be worn. On Dec. 19, 2014, Norman took a leap of faith and established his own clothing line. His mesmerizing portraits are printed onto modern cuts made from neoprene and spandex, and the results are boldly beautiful.

“My design is colorful, young, and loud, very much like me!” he laughs, sharing that he looks up to Jeremy Scott, the designer genius behind the radical and iconic looks of Miley Cyrus, for inspiration. 

Paolo Ballesteros wearing one of his shirts

But more than just a fresh and modern aesthetic, “Every print used in my designs is meaningful because these are the people I have met and are inspired by – a mix of both new and familiar faces. But they have all become my friends.” Random introductions become beautiful encounters as Norman captures each individual in a stunning light.

Norman San Diego

Today, San Diego’s FAB has a loyal following in Subic, and Norman is extending his fashion reach in Manila, with his designs now available at the Commercenter, Alabang.

“When I graduated in college I was lost and didn’t know what to do with my life. But I remembered my mom saying that whatever goal I want to achieve, I should put God first and everything else will follow. Thankfully, He has led me to this, and for that I am very grateful,” he ends.

FAB's Harbor Point Subic Ayala Mall store

San Diego's FAB (Fashion Arts & Bodies) store is located at Level 1 Harbor Point Subic Ayala Mall.For inquiries and information on the products you may check out San Diego's FAB on Facebook or @fablimited on Instagram, or reach him through Viber on 09062875912.

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