Photograph by Mao Sovanchandy 

I was invited by Fashion And Market, a multimedia platform that presents specialist content on Southeast Asian fashion, to write a short essay about LINEAL and its third issue.

Somewhere in Central Europe, it is 5:30 p.m. In New York, it is 11:30 a.m. It is 12:30 a.m. where I live. I am sitting in the same spot where I started LINEAL, a digital publication I founded in December 2020, where the theme of BORDERLESS for its third issue was born.

LINEAL is a passion project with the vision to underline creativity from the region of Southeast Asia. It is a product of collaborations. I spearhead and do most of the tasks, from conceptualising the theme, discovering inspiring talents and faces to tapping writers and managing the website. Together with two guest editors, I finalise the articles.

For the past ten years, I have lived on three different continents as a fashion photographer. I produced shoots for magazines such as Esquire Singapore and Vogue Taiwan, for the time that I was in New York and London. Other days, it was the opposite; I organised shoots in Cambodia for Vogue Portugal and Esquire Spain. But since last year when the pandemic started, I haven’t been able to travel. The pause allowed me to reflect. It dawned on me profoundly — creativity knows no boundary. I am somewhere in the province of the Philippines where very few (or perhaps none) are aware and interested in the news that Daniel Lee left Bottega Veneta, or that Vogue global editions have been undergoing consolidations. Yet, the digital world offered me an alternative way of producing stories with fellow creatives, beyond geographical borders. 

In Indonesia, Abdul Razzak Jauhar creates a photo story that emphasises the relationship between life and death, while in Cambodia, the tension between architectural heritage and modernity is the subject of Mao Sovanchandy’s picture series. In Paris, Rukpong Raimaturapong pays homage to his Thai roots for his latest fashion collection, while in New York, Charlene Almarves contemplates her decade-long journey as a model hailing from the Philippines. Those stories are proof that we are all interconnected, despite different existence or perspectives. They define the meaning of BORDERLESS.

Southeast Asian talents are remarkable. LINEAL’s hope is to champion them. Since its maiden issue, the magazine has featured at least thirty artists. Each of them creates outstanding works. Each work has an inspiring narrative —- where I, and perhaps you, and everyone can associate with. Take for instance a documentary tackling how the pandemic affected trans women in Indonesia by photographer Poppy Pieter, or an exclusive conversation with Jasmine Tuan, a fashionista and shopaholic from Singapore who became a zero-waste advocate. LINEAL amplifies voices on matters that are relevant to our society.

At this time when we are reminded that our world is small, it is an apt and kind act to celebrate the creativity of the people in our home.


In case you missed it, our LINEAL cover story featured New York-based model Charlene Almarvez. She is one of my muses.

Every now and then, when we are in the same city, New York or London, Charlene and I would reconnect over a shoot or dance. Charlene loves to dance and she’s a head-turner. I remember when we were clubbing in London — at that time she dyed her hair blonde and she looked absolutely divine — random stylish youths approached her expressing their compliments. On that same evening, while walking along the street of Soho, some folks opened the window of their car yelling their admiration. She was stunning!

Aside from sharing moves on the dance floor, Charlene and I would exchange stories. We were on the same boat, we were sailing on the same sea — I as a fashion photographer, she as a fashion model. We were both from the provinces of the Philippines, living by ourselves in the fashion capitals of the world. She spoke of the hardship of withstanding the pressure from the cut-throat modelling industry, coupled with the loneliness of living by herself. She moved to New York at the age of sixteen! And how ultimately she found happiness by staying true to herself, and how friendships make her life sweeter.

From coveted shows for Suno, Lacoste, Diane von Furstenberg in 2010 when she started, to her last shows for Brandon Maxwell, Laquan Smith and Area; from the pages of Vogue, Interview, and Elle, she continues to inspire as one of the most successful Southeast Asian faces in the fashion industry.

Charlene epitomises personal triumph in life, beyond borders.

Here, I photographed Charlene in Primrose Hill, London in 2017 for Reserved Magazine.

You may read her story at Charlene Almarvez Embodies The Idea Of “Borderless”

LINEAL – Borderless

Photograph by Sam Crawford

BORDERLESS — how each one of us is interconnected despite geographical bounds, different perspectives or unalike existence.

Enjoy our third issue.

Onin Lorente
Founder and Editor-in-Chief

Visit https://lineal.asia

It was one of those late evenings when you had long conversations with your fellow elders from the neighbourhood. Seated next to you, I lay my head on your lap. The gentle caress of your hands on my head was always a solace. It was my lullaby.

At times, those hands were unforgiving; when I disobeyed your rules on no mid-afternoon swim in the nearby river or late-evening games on the main road with my childhood friends. I was an explorer; you set the borderline.

Every end of the school year, from grade one to grade five, you championed my achievements. You accompanied me on the stage to receive the first honours award. But when I finished grade six, you chose to recognise my mom and gave her pride. I delivered my valedictory speech while you were in the audience, she was on my side.

High school came, I commuted thirty kilometres every day, from home to school. You waited early in the morning until I left, and in the afternoon, or sometimes evening, until I returned.

And when I bid farewell to study in Manila for my university education and to live with my mom, you waited. You waited until I left.

Time passed, and every time I came home, you welcomed me with your beautiful smiles. They were abundant and pure. Sometimes there were tears of joy from both of us, as I took your hand, gently put it on my forehead and paid you respect.

And yesterday, just like the old times, you waited. You waited until I returned.

As I held your hands for the last time, I thanked you for taking care of me, for teaching me the purpose of discipline, for encouraging me to do my best, and for fostering the child, the teenager that I was, who has become the person that I am.

I left. You waited. Few hours after, you left.

Mang Edad, my grandmother, passed away peacefully at the age of 86. She was loved by us, by many.

A tribute to my lola, and to all lola out there.

2021

It has been 10 years since I decided to venture into fashion and photography, became a traveller and pursued a dream — to shoot for the greatest magazines and produce beautiful works — with the plan of sustaining a comfortable life and being able to live and work permanently as an artist in Europe, all while toiling in three different continents. 

I left Singapore ( where I worked as a software developer ) in 2011, moved between New York, London ( where I resided most of the time ), Milan, Paris during the fashion weeks, and elsewhere for the remainder of each year. But since 2020, I have been back home here in the Philippines. Looking back over the past decade, I  learned many things. Here are my personal reminders.

1. It is okay to dream, BIG or small.

In my case, it was the former. There were MANY rejections and hurdles.

2.  Learn to move on after each rejection.

Borrowing a line from American singer Aaliyah, “If at first you don’t succeed, Then dust yourself off and try again”. 

Improve and restart better.

If it doesn’t work, it is okay too.

Pat your back for trying.

3. Sometimes, a break, a breath of fresh air will give us a clearer direction of our dreams.

Pause for few seconds.

Proceed.

4. Know when it is time to end it. Stopping even when you haven’t achieved it, isn’t equivalent to failure.

Hold on ( if you can ). Continue the journey.

Continue reading.

5. There are times when our frail human nature gives in.

There were dark days in my early endeavours when I felt completely alone, and my path was downright uncertain. Personal and societal pressure was too difficult to cope with. I succumbed to despair, resorted to sexual dependency in the hope of finding temporary comfort and strength. In the long run, it didn’t work.

Worse, there were thoughts of suicide.

I was lost.

Until I braved myself to find the courage to stand again.  

6. I learned to live light-hearted and to enjoy the process and the journey.

Don’t forget to dance, sing, drink and be merry. Because there are great reasons ahead.

7. The world out there is beautiful.

8. Friends, and memories with them, are great treasures.

9. Humanity is wonderful.

10. Finally, smile and understand that every one of us is a work in progress.

Enjoy life.

Start a new dream.

LINEAL – Escape

Art by Anh Duong

We feature eight stories in our sophomore issue. Fronting it is a self-portrait by artist, muse and model, Anh Duong. Her gaze is distant and delicate.

In a time when we are bound physically and even emotionally, when uncertainty and chaos prevail, creativity offers an escape.

Onin Lorente
Founder and Editor-in-Chief

Visit https://lineal.asia

LINEAL – Heritage

LINEAL is a digital publication underlining creativity from Southeast Asia –faces, fashion design and photography.

The idea came to mind last October. I started researching and handpicking artists to feature. Afterwards, I invited writers to conduct the interview and write the story. While completing the articles, I was also designing the website. Finally, last December 1 LINEAL went live.

Photograph by Narya Abhimata

Here is an excerpt from my Editor’s note :

The Oxford Dictionary defines LINEAL as 1. in a direct line of descent or ancestry, and 2. relating to or consisting of lines. It is thus a befitting title to capture the core of this magazine: design and photography talents, and faces from Southeast Asia.

For the launch of LINEAL, we gathered seven stories embodying the theme — Heritage. It includes a dialogue with Haryo Balitar, founder of a modelling agency in Indonesia. Our cover face is Laras Sekar, represented by Haryo Balitar, who has been gaining recognition in the global fashion industry with runway feats for Saint Laurent in Paris, and Moschino in Los Angeles. The shoot was exclusively produced for LINEAL.

Scroll down to read inspiring narratives, in alphabetical order by country of origin, authored by talented writers from the region and beyond. Finally, in the footer you’ll find links to our social media accounts. Do follow us for more creative features.

Enjoy reading!

Onin Lorente
Founder and Editor-In-Chief

http://lineal.asia

The Locals

Portraits from Albay, Philippines and Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Pathways. Venice. 2012.

The sudden pause in our world has allowed me to slow down and to revisit the photographs from the past.

Here I am sitting in an old wooden chair writing this note on my laptop stationed on a similarly old wooden table. My abode is small, perfect for one person. Minimal — a cabinet holds my clothes, bed stands to a wall, plants, while a shoe rack greets visitors at the front door. The kitchenette connects to the comfort room by blue painted walls. My landlady must have adored the sky and the sea and its endless horizon.

I should be somewhere now. Perhaps in London or in another place where I have photography work. And yet I have been in this neighborhood for some time. It is the longest period that I have stayed in my home country, Philippines, for the past 8 years. I am not complaining. I am, maybe (long pause), just bored and longing for an adventure.

It is now 11:49 in the evening and here I am, still at the same spot, wondering what can I write? About Venice exploration and those ancient facades, mayhap? Or the hint of light in those pathways that can represent hope in our time?

New e-mail notification. Opened. Read . . .

12:23 a.m. I still cannot figure out what to write. Perhaps tomorrow when I wake up.

9:55 a.m. Good Morning.

Sipping my coffee while I hear the chicken crooning its sunrise song, even at this hour ( as if it too has lost track of time). Adding tones to my ears, is the slow dripping of water rhythmically filling a pail.

It started to rain. There is a storm in the province.

On to a good read – Naomi Campbell for the cover of the November issue of American Vogue. Isn’t she great? An icon. A symbol of diversity and of bravery. I’ve seen her few times during fashion shows, off and on the runway. Her presence, her command — it is incredible. Naomi Campbell is a dream to photograph.

By the time I finish my coffee, I am halfway through reading the article. By the time I finish the story, the pail is full.

What was I going to write again? Oh, Venice and pathways.

How are you, my creative friends?

Today is World Mental Health Day.

I must admit, I am prone to prolonged deep thinking, day dreaming…

Isn’t that common to us, fellow artists?

When we created this story, “The Mirror Has Two Faces”, the idea was to explore two personalities in singular persona – one that is romantic, free and light and the other is constricted, dark, sinister – through dance and fashion photography.

Mental health as a subject or a starting point for a fashion editorial or show has been a debate in the creative industry. Remember the cover of Vogue Portugal “Madness Issue” that was pulled out last August? Or the Gucci runway show, September 2019, where one of the models walked, palm showing scripted with “mental health is not fashion” ?

“The Mirror Has Two Faces” was not an intended depiction of the matter. But, when I saw the result, I was concerned that it may have presented or romanticised it, and that it won’t be run by the magazine. How would the readers interpret those series of images?

From then on, I learned to be more cautious of where I take inspirations for my fashion stories. Though, it goes back to what the mind can only see – the otherworldly, the dreamy, the fantasy.