Jacqueline Mones, the brains behind rising independent fashion brand, Jacque the Label, proves that fashion is for everyone.
“Walang pera sa fashion.”
“’Wag ka na mag artist, walang trabaho diyan.”
We’ve all heard of the usual, dusty notions about plunging into a creative career. But despite the snarky comments from our favorite titos and titas, we’re proud to say that we’re part of a generation that loves the wild goose chase of having to prove someone wrong. Where’s the fun in having everything go your way?
This is the story of Jacqueline Mones, a 26-year old Filipino fashion designer who migrated from Pangasinan to Massachusetts a few years ago. Just like many of us, she was humbled real quick in her journey to the creative world. Her parents were initially doubtful of her desire to study in fashion school, so she ended up working and saving up for two years just to be able to enroll. Three jobs later hustling customer service jobs in retail and restaurants, Jacqueline was able to send herself to school despite thinking that she wasn’t as creative as her other classmates.
But then again, she proved herself wrong, too. Jacqueline was chosen by the Council of Fashion Designers in America for their Fashion Future Graduate Showcase last year, and was awarded by numerous scholarships. Despite feeling indifferent and only learning from her peers in school and YouTube tutorials, she was given multiple scholarships and graduated with departmental honors.
Her escape from reality, Jacqueline’s graduation collection, entitled Phantasia, was inspired by her mother’s favorite flower and the natural wonders of the Philippines fused with technology. With all her hard work and talent, it is no surprise that she’s loved by celebrities like Julia Fox who wore her to a red carpet event, Paris Hilton who’s left flame emojis on her Instagram posts, been featured by British Vogue and NYLON Korea, and was recently worn by Nadine Lustre on our June cover. For now, buckle up because Jacqueline Mones and her brainchild, Jacque The Label is still on the path to prove anyone wrong and most importantly, that every Filipina can.
Read on below to see our conversation with the US-based Filipino designer on the rise.
We’ve read about your journey as a fashion designer. What made you shift from studying Political Science to working in fashion?
My dad always wanted me to become a lawyer or a politician, so my parents enrolled me in Political Science and studied it for three years and didn’t really love it. Then 2015, luckily we moved to the US and I’ve always wanted to go to fashion design since I was in high school, and I knew right away when I got out of Political Science that I really wanted to do Fashion Design.
Before I enrolled in fashion, I wasn’t the most creative and dedicated person. I wasn’t very good at drawing, computer or even sewing. I just liked fashion. I just enjoyed looking at it and usually get intrigued by how they design and make clothes. It’s the only job that my heart and head tells me, “I wanna do that, I wanna work in that industry.”
Can you tell us more about the period where you had to work multiple jobs to be able to have an education in fashion? What struggles do you remember that helped you achieve your goal?
I feel like one of the biggest struggles of my life is when we moved here in the US. When we got here, I already had to pay rent, food, and utilities. I wanted to go into fashion design, but my parents weren’t very supportive of the idea, I think because of the preconception that there is no money in art and design, so they’re probably just scared that I’d be unemployed once I finish fashion school. I told them they don’t have to pay for anything if I go to college for fashion design.
And so I did. I worked three jobs for two years to earn enough money to be able to support myself to go back to school. So, in the morning I worked in a retail store from 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM then went to my other job as a busser in a restaurant. I cleaned tables and carried plates from 5:00 PM – 12:00 AM. Then on weekends, I had another retail job, doing cashiering and arranging the store shelves. I’m usually on call, so if any of my other jobs need someone to cover a shift, I usually take it. That’s how desperate I was to earn money for college.
It was very hard, because I worked almost everyday and usually didn’t have time for myself. By the time my parents went back to the Philippines, it was just me and my sister. Luckily after that two years, I was able to earn enough money to be able to support myself to college. I applied and got in, but I was still working 30 hours a week while being enrolled full time in school.
When did you realize that fashion design was your main medium? When did you learn the techniques that you’ve currently been using?
Before I enrolled, I doubted myself because I’m not really that creative. In my first year of college, I usually get upset or sometimes cry because it was very hard to keep up with my classmates. Most of them took art and computer design classes before going to college and I didn’t, so I strived hard to teach myself after classes. It was in my second year when I started winning awards and scholarships. I’d be praised by my teachers and my name was always in our achievements bulletin board in school. That’s when I realized that fashion design is for me. I graduated with flying colors and was awarded with a lot of scholarships and won competitions while in school.
How does it feel like being able to create designs that are often otherworldly? Tell us about the inspiration behind your collection.
My latest collection, Phantasia, was inspired by my mom’s favorite flower, the orchid. I love to incorporate technology to my designs, like using Adobe Illustrator to create patterns, using laser cutter and 3D printer. I’m also a big fan of Iris Van Herpen.
You’ve been featured on NYLON Korea, Vogue UK, been worn by celebrities and was selected by the CFDA previously. What does this mean to you as a designer?
CFDA was such a big honor and achievement in my life since I was selected and my designs got showcased as one of their Future of Fashion Graduates of 2021 all over the US. It feels great and overwhelming since I only graduated last year. Having influencers and celebrities wear my clothes and even being featured in articles and magazines has given me so much confidence that I can do it. A Filipina can do it.
How does your identity as a Filipino connect to your designs?
I grew up in the Philippines, so things that shaped me, things that I saw and loved influenced my designs. Being in a tropical country, I’ve seen a lot of beautiful plants and animals and that’s why most of the clothes I make are very colorful. And in my college years in Baguio City, I’ve also seen Igorot tattoos, which also served as an inspiration to me.
What advice can you give to aspiring fashion students?
It will be a very hard decision at first because people around you will tell you there is no money in that course and you will have second thoughts. Sometimes you’ll never know if a thing is right for you until you try it.