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Oj Hofer is one of Cebu’s famed, talented and fashion-forward designers. His masterpieces are considered as one of the much-awaited collections in the country’s most prestigious fashion shows. Hofer is known for his two disciplines: tailoring and draping. In essence, all his designs go back to structure, which is his profound statement of style.
Oj believes that design for couture is integral. His philosophy maintains that designs must work in proportion with the figure and the personality of the one wearing it. Add to that, the structure and form of the dress must achieve a sense of balance.
When Oj opened his first shop with his cousin Ann in Cebu, little did he know that what was meant to be a temporary business would flourish into a full career for him. Oj studied Fine Arts at UP Diliman and took courses in Clothing Technology as well. His original career plan to work in an advertising agency took a major shift when he opened his first shop.
Oj learned a lot of aspects in couture trade from the world’s leading design centers when he was awarded a scholarship form the Philippine Trade Training Center. He proudly says that his professors from the Chambre Syndicale in Paris and the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York afforded him his most valuable lessons in haute couture.
Like most fashion designers, Oj’s creative process starts with a sketch. What sets him apart from other skilled designers is what he does next. He goes back to his discipline. He tries to find the structure that will fit the proportions of the wearer, creates his own patterns and cuts initially on muslin. Thus, his first fitting is in muslin, perfected in the form of a draft using haute couture techniques. He cautiously chooses the kind of fabric that will suit the design so that it will fall the way he wants and expects it to. There is no room for guessing or taking careless risks. He does everything in a structured process, from design planning to execution.
His creative pieces can be seen as austere and devoid of embellishments. The aspect of simplicity and purity highlights his skills in designing and constructing wonderful masterpieces. He describes his work as an impression of economy of lines. It may be difficult for most Filipino women to appreciate his subdued style considering that pieces creating a strong visual drama are preferred. Nevertheless, Oj never ceases to impress women whose sense of style is geared towards restrained but elegant and sophisticated dresses.