She walks into a room and instantly makes her strong presence felt. There is that air of elegance that radiates from her, one that runs uncontrived. This is exactly what fashion means for Heart Evangelista, or Love Marie Ongpauco Escudero in real life. “Fashion for me is self-expression. It is a very powerful weapon that when you step into a room and without saying anything, people [in that room] kind of know already who you are. It really makes a huge difference,” she says.
This actress, philanthropist, social media darling and visual artist, who has appeared on countless glossies including Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, movies, television shows and just recently, on two billboards in Times Square where she’s seen proudly showcasing Philippine-made bags is, no doubt, one of the icons of fashion and style in the country.
Her style is easy to grasp—classic but never boring; funky but never over the top; safe but always on point.
Taking cues from style icons such as Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Onassis and Mira Duma, as well as Filipino lovelies like Dawn Zulueta and Tweetie de Leon-Gonzalez, her personal style evokes timeless elegance with an edgy flair. “I like to accentuate the classic look. I love my suits. I like how a blazer can perfectly pair with a nice skirt. In a way, it’s kind of timeless and not just about the trends. When you look back, you’re not ashamed of what you see because it isn’t dated,” Evangelista explains.
For her, there are three pieces that you should always have in your closet: a pair of nude pumps, which can give an illusion of elongated legs; a fitted blazer that can up your game all the time; and a nice pair of white slacks. She emphasised that there is no need for too many items in your wardrobe if you just find the key items that you can mix and match as well as those that never go out of style. This gorgeous lady who is on US Harper’s Bazaar’s “real crazy rich Asians” list in 2018 admits she has a luggage filled with essential clothing as well as a hanger of designer blazers that are ready to be pulled out in case there’s a fire or an earthquake. “My dad’s house actually burnt, and I was so traumatised that I always think about that. In fact, I have all my tweed jackets in one whole hanger just in case. I’ll carry all of those out and I would definitely save some of my favourite bags. I always think of the worst, so I do have a suitcase underneath a particular cabinet, and I dump it all in there,” she shares.
When it comes to bags, shoes and jewellery, Evangelista advises to invest in the pieces that endure the test of time. “If you hold on to the right pieces it’s not just going to last a lifetime [but] it’s something you can pass on,” she says. She started her bag and shoe collection with her hard-earned money early on and is happy that she was able to secure iconic pieces that she can still enjoy to this day. “Even if you are grey and old, holding away a black Hermès Birkin is still so elegant looking,” she says.
Growing up she already knew that fashion has a special place in her heart. “Ever since I can remember, I would always enjoy dressing up, getting into my mum’s clothes and making her skirts into an off-shoulder blouse,” she says, recalling that this fondness has brought her to a lot of trouble including a time when she wore her mum’s high heels, fell off the stairs and bumped her head onto a glass table. “I just love, love, love dressing up. It’s something I truly enjoy.” This explains why you would always see her in her usual polished, glamorous look—be it on TV, in the grocery or elsewhere. She jokes, “The only time you’d see me dressed down is if I’m really sick; but even if I’m in the hospital, you will still see me wearing my high heels.”