Trust a former Cosmopolitan fashion editor-turned-designer to know how to make a woman sexy. Donna Cuna-Pita's clothing line Abrace (Spanish for 'embrace'), sold at The Ramp and at Crossings, has attracted a small following of working women and kikay moms since its launch in December 2008. "I want women to embrace and celebrate their unique beauty with my clothes," says Donna, a mother of two.
As a serious shopper and a freelance fashion stylist, Donna was familiar with what was available in the market, but wasn't satisfied. "I saw the need for chic dresses and separates that can seamlessly move from work to cocktails," she said, "and pieces that need very little accessorizing to look good. I also wanted to make clothes that are very body-friendly, so most body types can wear them." Although she worked for seven years at Cosmo dressing stick-thin models, Donna understands the reality of the majority. "My sizing is also tailored for more mature women. My clothes are not sized for teeny, tiny teens."
Value for money was also important to her: her tops and bottoms are under P1,000; dresses, P1,600 up–nothing over P3,000. Plus, she stresses, "Abrace items can be worn for several years. They're fashionable but not too trendy." Classic staples like pencil skirts and shirt dresses are given surprise elements like exposed zippers and ruched sleeves to add visual interest. Her current summer collection, "inspired by travel and glamour with shades of Bianca Jagger," is still mindful of her target market's needs. For instance, her jumpsuits have a front panel to help conceal any stomach bulges and to soften the silhouette. Her collection is also travel-friendly: wrinkle-free, easy to pack, and needs no accessorizing. "The sheer racerback shifts and nautical shorts are perfect for beach trips. I also have office staples like crisp wrap tops that will instantly make you look fresh and chic, high-waisted skirts, pencil skirts with draping details in front and men's-style, fluid, leisure pants that can go with a tube top for evening, and a chic blazer for work." But nothing too resort-y, she points out. "All the pieces can be worn in the city! Abrace is really more of a daily-wear brand."
Do women make better designers? They at least understand their own bodies and fashion needs better, says Donna. "I have an intimate knowledge of all things feminine. I know what being a woman means–and this translates to a more body-friendly approach to silhouettes and shapes. Nothing in my line is too over-the-top. My pieces are feminine without being frilly, sexy without being vulgar, and glamorous without being stuffy," she says. Add to that her long experience as a fashion editor, which has helped her master her market. "I know the fashion issues of female readers like cost and body image and so I keep these in mind as a designer. I'm not on the outside looking in –I'm right in there with them."
White jersey jumpsuit, P2,490. Blue jersey wrap dress, P2,490. Sheer floral print chiffon minidress, P2,290.
Abrace is exclusively available at The Ramp (Glorietta 3, and Podium) and at Crossings Department Stores (Trinoma, Edsa Shangri-la, Quezon Avenue).