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Fun, fabulous, and fashionable

F Boutique, the newest concept clothing store to open in Quezon City, has something for every woman

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Good friends Chichi Atienza-Valdepenas and Fredd Alba, two of the three prime movers behind the newest concept clothing store in the White Plains area dubbed as F Boutique, aren’t exactly new to the fashion scene. Alba, for instance, has been designing haute couture dresses since 1989, while the 30-something Valdepenas opened her first home and fashion store soon after graduating from the De La Salle University.

Apart from their shared passion for fashion, the two have a number of things in common. Both had to take a much-needed respite from their respective careers before deciding on opening F Boutique recently with Valdepenas’ good friend Astrid Asuncion. In Valdepenas’ case, she had to scale back and eventually close her thriving Nullah chain of stores to attend to motherhood. Alba, meanwhile, took a short break to reboot his career and explore new directions in fashion.

“I was Nullah’s buyer, stylist, and part-time designer rolled into one,” said Valdepenas, daughter of former Manila mayor Lito Atienza and sister of TV personality Kim Atienza. “It was fun, but I also knew my priorities. I had to take a break to attend to something more important.”

Their respective hiatus did them good. When they finally decided to join forces a few months ago by turning a forlorn unit, which used to be an antique furniture store, along Katipunan Ave. in Quezon City, into their idea of a clean, well-lit French contemporary clothes shop, the two were refreshed and hungry to spread their brand of fashion—a mix of minimalist ready-to-wear party dresses and separates, and made-to-order gowns with intricate embroidery and beadwork.

“We purposely decided to keep our ready-to-wear items simple,” said Valdepenas, while pointing to a display of neutral-colored dresses, including several classic and pleated tulle skirts a la Carrie Bradshaw. “They readily appeal to women with simple tastes. But if clients want, Fredd can readily up the bling and glamour factors by adding, say, beadwork and appliqué to certain pieces.”

“My forecast this season is back to basics, with well-made clothes in such materials as neoprene, scuba, jersey, and gazar,” Alba added. “Our colors are mostly neutral, but we will soon be injecting pops of color and more bling into the collection as Christmas draws nearer.”

The trio also included a number of crisp and classic men’s shirts into the mix as well as dozens of identical pairs of women’s leather pumps inspired by Ferragamo’s classic Vara 1 patent bow pumps. F Boutique’s version comes in neutral colors such as black, off-white, and camel. At R3,250 a pair, the sturdy Marikina-made beauties are a bargain, said Valdepenas.

“Usually, you go to a designer to have a dress made,” said Valdepenas. “You have to wait days, even weeks to see and fit the dress. Here at F Boutique, we offer customers both. If you’re in a hurry, you can grab and fit something off the rack, and come back a few days later to fit your custom-made gown.”

Asked what F means, the personable Valdepenas, who also once dabbled in showbiz as a teenager, instantly came up with numerous meanings. She and Alba collaborate on F Boutique’s off-the-rack pieces, while the latter takes care of the store’s more formal and “dramatic” offerings. After all, Alba also made a name for himself earlier in his career dressing up beauty queens.

“F depends on how you see it,” she said with a wink. “It can be fun, fabulous, fashion, and friends. It can even be Fredd. But definitely not fat, but we welcome voluptuous ladies to come. With the right clothes, we can make them look slim.”

The soft-spoken Alba gives the client a free hand to express herself through her choices. He only comes in, he said, if “it’s too much.” Alba asked: “Why would you allow a dear client to wear something that doesn’t flatter her?”

“Fredd loves to joke that he considers himself a psychologist, a psychiatrist, and a doctor to whoever enters F Boutique,” said Valdepenas. “Since he really knows what would flatter you, Astrid and I couldn’t agree more.”

F Boutique is at 129 St. Ignatius Street and Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City; tel. nos. 02 871-6261; and 63 955 053 4743