Fashion
Marga Valdes Trinidad On Designers She Admires and Working With Her Sister
Being born into a family of accomplished women flush with style and substance might be a burden to some, but Marga handles the pressure with effortless grace, elan, and charm.
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I’ve been to a lot of weddings and seen a lot of wedding videos over the years, but recently I stumbled upon a clip which may be my favorite yet—the one of Marga Valdes and her husband TJ Trinidad. In a span of five minutes, it succinctly narrated their love story while the camera captured the intimate, relaxed elegance of the affair held at the Valdes family compound in Tagaytay. It was beautiful, full of joy, and unpretentious. In a nutshell, just like Marga.


We catch up with her at the headquarters of BEAVALDES, the highly sought-after fashion brand created by Marga’s older sister Bea. Marga claims she doesn’t have a real job title (“We just do what needs to be done”) but it’s generally understood that she handles the brand’s sales and marketing.

Beyond securing widespread attention and adulation for the brand, Marga also gets a sense of fulfillment from helping numerous women. Marga is proud of the working environment they’ve set up, from the favorable conditions all the way down to the company’s ethical and sustainable business practices. “There are a lot of women who work here. And for each woman, there are numerous family members attached who benefit,” she says. “We are empowering the women. They are able to take care of their families, send their kids to school. Hopefully, they are breaking a cycle that they may not have been able to get out of otherwise. It’s not always been easy—we’re taking sure steps, but baby steps.”

The Bea Valdes showroom

As her sister’s number one supporter and fan, Marga’s passion for Bea’s various creations is quite evident, though not unwarranted. “Bea’s items, they are so amazing that they can’t not be made, not shared with the world. I do feel that,” she gushes. Each piece is painstakingly handmade by a highly skilled workforce, and some items are hand-painted by Bea herself—and if Marga has time, she helps too. “More people have started to realize that the items are special—not simply because of the materials that go into them—but because of the time it takes to make. Those familiar with our work know this. We must instill the value of time. That’s the real luxury—the time it takes to make something special.

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Source of inspiration
A plethora of usual suspects—from film, food, music, art, design, nature, literature, architecture, and travel—but I also find that getting down to business and focusing on getting work done also provides many creative ideas that can be revealed in the most mundane of situations. “Show up, show up, show up,” Isabel Allende advised, “and after a while the muse shows up, too.”

Greatest professional influence
My sister Bea because we work through everything together— from the psychological, spiritual, (sometimes) physical, creative, and everyday office-related aspects of running a business. We’re together, literally, side by side.

Favorite stores
I love fromageries, caviar houses, and the idea of tsukemono (Japanese pickles) shops.

Most admired designers
Zaha Hadid. She was formidable, fluid, expressive, and a “liberator of architectural geometry.” And because she stood among giants. Also Sir Ken Robinson (education and creativity expert) and all proponents of the learning revolution for challenging the way we think about education, for championing a radical rethink of our school systems, and for cultivating creativity and multiple forms of intelligence.


The late Zaha Hadid in her Bea Valdes accessories; and Carmen Busquets in a Bea Valdes vest.

Your idea of the perfect home?
Harmonizing human existence with the surrounding physical environment. A peaceful (with two toddlers under 5!) sanctuary for my children and husband.

Favorite part of your house?
Wherever my children can be found… usually, this is outside, standing amidst the bamboo, doodling away on the outdoor drawing wall.

Style icons
My lola Fe Panlilio. She had a lot of personal style, which had little to do with how she dressed. She was larger than life. We used to say, “She didn’t touch people’s lives… she dented them!”  Another is Iris Apfel, for her priorities on being an individual, her humor, curiosity, and her wonderfully cheeky insights on life and style. Then there is Carmen Busquets [founding investor of Net-aPorter and CoutureLab, among others], for her vision and pioneering work in sustainable luxury, fashion, and e-commerce, and for her steadfast support of global craft and artisans across the planet. Also for her humor, kindness, friendship, and continuous support throughout the years. 


Marga's Lola Fe Panlilio

Fashion trend you wish would go away?
The idea of throwaway fashion, fast fashion. The mentality that you can throw things away after somebody has taken the time and effort to create something. It’s really wasteful and it is not sustainable. That’s the antithesis of what we are trying to do.

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Presenting to Iris Apfel in Paris

What do you consider a must-have item in any home?
A good dining table, arguably the most crucial piece of furniture in the home.

Favorite city to visit
London!

Travel must-haves 
A sense of adventure, sunblock, and my family.

Vacation spot
Currently Baguio, because as I get older, more and more I find that we return to the places of our youth. It feels like I’ve come full circle when I am able to take my children to places of my childhood where they are now able to create lasting memories of their own. I would also like to go back to Batanes, but maybe when the children are older and less likely to fall off the soaring cliffs!

Happiest moment
Seeing my parents surrounded by their grandchildren.

Best gift ever received
My engagement ring.

Greatest hope for the future
My children Alonso and Renata, and my nieces, Allegra and Emilia.


Marga’s children Renata and Alonso; and nieces Emilia and Allegra with Renata.

Guilty pleasure
Late night Horlicks with hot milk.

One thing few people know about you
It seems I have an eye for drawing and photography.

Most treasured possession
TJ, my husband and father of my children!

Favorite work of art
A painting that I made when I was 4, which my mother had framed and kept all these years. It now hangs in my sala next to my children Alonso and Renata’s favorite pieces of their own artwork. Also, a charcoal sketch of a mother and daughter sculpture that I gave my mom on her birthday. I think I must have been 7 or 8 at the time when I drew it. 


The painting Marga made as a four-year-old

Who is a young artist that we should keep our eyes on?
My niece, Allegra Rodriguez! She’s 9, and her talent is so pronounced. She paints and is very artistically inclined.

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Pierre A. Calasanz
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