Born and raised in the Philippines, Janet Nepales, was destined to follow the path of a writer. After building the foundation of her journalistic career in the Philippines, Janet has become recognized as an award-winning journalist based in Los Angeles. She is a consistent winner in the National Entertainment Journalism Awards and the Southern California Journalism Awards, both presented by the Los Angeles Press Club. Currently, she has a weekly column, "Hollywood Insider," on GMA - 7 News Online, and is the Hollywood correspondent of the top network, and has regular monthly columns in Manila Up and Exquisite Magazine. Adding to her outstanding resume, Janet is also the first Filipina member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. As Janet continues to flourish her career as a journalist, she is getting ready to launch her first book, a glossy 12" x 14" coffee table book, "FASHION.Filipino. Hollywood. The World." in the US.
In her first book, Janet pays tribute to fashion and designers with a gorgeous compilation of specially picked photos of red-carpet couture. She also includes her favorite quotes from her various interviews with the fashion designers and Hollywood celebrities she has interviewed in her many years as a Hollywood journalist. "FASHION. Filipino. Hollywood. The World." is a first of its kind because it is the first time Filipino fashion designers can contribute to the global fashion stage. The book features stunning fashion spreads, including red-carpet photos of top stars and celebrities, primarily taken by Hollywood photographer Stanlee B. Mirador.
I appreciate the work, the creative genius, the artistry, and the labor of love of these fashion designers. (Janet Nepales)
When Janet had a moment, she spoke with Gemma Magazine about growing up in the Phillippines, her inspiration for the book, and her love of fashion. So let's dive in!
What was your upbringing like in the Philippines? You obviously have an incredible work ethic.
I grew up in Kamuning, Quezon City, in the Philippines. I went to public schools, from Morato Elementary School to Quezon City High School, where I graduated as valedictorian in a class of 500.
I graduated cum laude from the College of Arts and Letters, taking Journalism. Then I went to the University of Santo Tomas, a Pontifical university older than Harvard. I was editor in chief from high school to college for the college magazine, The Flame, and I was the managing editor of the university paper, The Varsitarian.
I am the eldest of six siblings. My parents instilled in me to do my best in anything. I made that my motto in life. My paternal grandparents, who were Spanish-Filipinos and whom I was very close to, taught me to live a grateful life. I have always lived my life with a grateful heart.
What made you want to become a journalist, and did you know that you always wanted to go into entertainment?
My high school Journalism teacher, Lourdes N. Tacorda, was the first one to inspire me to become a journalist. In my junior high school year, she plucked me from the class and told me she wanted to train me as her next editor-in-chief for the Capitol school paper. I loved being the editor so much that I decided to pursue it in college.
I did my internship with the Times-Journal newspaper, one of the largest newspapers in the Philippines. They assigned me to work in the Sunday magazine, "The Parade." As staff writer of "The Parade", I was assigned to interview most Hollywood celebrities visiting or performing in the Philippines, from Linda Carter to Al Jarreau, from Gloria Estefan to Brooke Shields, among others.
You are so accomplished! Can you please tell us about the "Hollywood Insider?"
"Hollywood Insider" is my weekly column in GMA-7 Online. I feature all my interviews with Hollywood stars and Filipino-American celebrities and talents. Aside from my column, I also contribute TV interviews with Hollywood stars to GMA-7 Network.
What made you decide to write a book?
I have always wanted to do a fashion book because I am very passionate about fashion. I admire the hard work, creativity, attention to detail, the originality and individuality of each gown that the designers construct. I also wanted to give Filipino fashion designers a showcase of their work on the global fashion stage.
Would you please expand upon your book, "FASHION. Filipino. Hollywood. The World." I know it is a tribute to Filipino and Hollywood Fashion.
It is a big, glossy 12” x14” coffee table book that features 15 top Filipino fashion designers and their creations that Hollywood A-listers have worn. Everyone from Jennifer Lopez, Sofia Vergara, Beyonce to Lady Gaga, among others, on the red carpet in Cannes, Venice, and well-known international film festivals and awards shows like the Golden Globes, the Oscars, the Emmys, the Grammys, and more. It is the first-ever book on Filipino fashion on the red carpet. I am very proud of that.
The limited hardbound edition book also showcases the photos of the stars of my colleague and friend, top Hollywood red carpet photographer Sthanlee B. Mirador, and my favorite quotes from the celebrities based on my interviews with them. Plus additional photos by Filbert Diego Kung, the fast-rising fashion photographer who landed a significant contract in Europe.
Also, my publisher, Bessie Badilla, whose international fashion model career culminated in being a house model of Balenciaga in Paris for three years, did the book’s design and layout, which is stunning, if I may say so myself.
It is beautiful that you highlight Filipino fashion designers and give them a voice for Hollywood fashion. How do you feel about this?
I am proud to highlight Filipino fashion designers because I use my platform to spotlight them and their talents. This is a first-of-its-kind book because nobody has done a book on Filipino fashion designers and their creations on the red carpet.
What did you learn about some of the designers when speaking with them?
I learned that these Filipino fashion designers are proud of their roots and use Philippine cultural influences. Some of them have used the indigenous materials in the Philippines, from pina, abaca, to jusi, among others.
They have used the art of mixing native textiles to create a new fabric. They have used native accessories to adorn their models on the runway and in photoshoots. Proud of the provinces they came from in the Philippines, these designers have used all these cultural influences as inspiration in their fashion masterpieces.
What do you think of Multicultural Fashion?
(Personally, it is a favorite topic of mine, and the couture designs exhibit such elegance).
I believe this is the future of fashion – an amalgamation of various cultures blending into beautiful, unique creations. We should celebrate multicultural style in the same way we celebrate our uniqueness and individuality as creative people. I foresee a future where the fashion trends go more toward the East, Africa, and untapped cultures for inspiration and materials.
Where can my audience purchase the book?
They can purchase the book by going to the Facebook page @fashionfilipinohollywoodtheworld and sending us a message. We will take care of them.
In order to keep up with Janet Nepales and her upcoming projects, you can find her on Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/janetrnepales/
Credits for Feature Photo: Photo Photographer: Filbert Diego Kung
Photo Stylist: Janet Nepales
Photo MUA/Hair: Joel Vera Sebastian