Event Stylist Jo Claravall Teaches You How To Recreate Her Elegant Table Settings At Home
As a child, Jo Claravall knew what worked and what didn’t, what looked great and what looked terrible. The result was that she was immediately trusted by her family to make interior design tweaks at home. She’d see a figurine that was seemingly out of place or an arrangement that stuck out like a sore thumb. “I’d have it removed. There were also fake grapes at home, kasi 70s 'diba? I’d just tell my mom, can you just please throw this whole arrangement?” Things that didn’t make sense didn’t escape Jo’s discerning eye, so she made sure to make things beautiful everywhere she went.
From making design improvements at home, Jo has now made a name for herself as one of the Philippines’ best event stylists. In a world where events are aspirational—everyone wants a dream-like, unforgettable event, and Jo Claravall is an expert in creating something sophisticated, elegant, and timeless. “I’m also eclectic,” she adds. “While I can make classic designs for events, I make sure to bring them to now.”
Jo’s ability to seamlessly bring together seemingly clashing aesthetics stems from her background in advertising and art history. This has added to her incredible talent of making unexpected combinations work, and it has become one of the many reasons why she has become sought-after and well-loved in the industry.
Before the event styling industry was a thing, many struggled with the idea of what an event stylist was. “Event stylist? Event stylists? Events stylists? People had no idea what I was and what I did!” Jo recalls. “They think I’d do makeup or hair. Sometimes they’d even think I was a wardrobe stylist.” From having to explain herself and what she did, Jo has witnessed tremendous growth in the industry “These days, people recognize the need for event stylists. They now know and understand the value of a beautiful event. It’s creating an experience.”
This idea is also reinforced by the age of social media, a time when people can easily search for all things beautiful. “Brides can just go on Instagram and see what they like. There’s also a rise of celebrities who make use of opulent events like Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's and then you have things like the Oscars—people have access to see these things and of course they want to emulate those. It’d be very aspirational for them to have a beautiful event too,” she shares.
Aside from knowing and practicing the gold standard for events, Jo has grown her clientele because of her ability to listen to her clients and execute their vision. She says, “Let’s say I’m lucky to have the trust of so many corporate events, to be able to work with so many individuals and companies. Rockwell significantly is one of my favorites. The Proscenium launch is a milestone for me. A perk of the job is that you get to work with amazing brands.”
Moreover, this event stylist has become the de facto dream designer for Manila’s cream of the crop. “I also love doing weddings. The people are so special because they come to you with an ideal vision and they want the wedding to be extremely beautiful and it’s wonderful knowing that they’ve placed their trust in you. Each client is special and different. Knowing that they’ve placed their trust in me is very humbling. It makes me want to do my best for them,” Jo tells Metro.Style.
She also jokes that she must be a psychic as she gives the bride-to-be just one look and is able to predict what kind of wedding she’d like to have. She shares, “They want their vision and voices translated. And it’s great for their guests to say, 'Oh, it’s so beautiful. This is how you are.' Hindi 'yung it’s me. It’s not just my perspective. I lend my style but ultimately, [it's about] how I reflect their own vision and personalities.”
Photos from @joclaravall
When asked what the most common theme clients often ask for, Jo is quick to point out that most of the people she works with aim for a classic and elegant event. “White and green are some of the most popular colors. It’s very timeless. I notice that a lot of couples go for this color. It’s fresh, crisp, and elegant. The themes come and go, but regardless, the whole idea is to keep an event tasteful and polished. Don’t make it too thematic that it becomes funny. Think of it this way: An event is how you dress. When you look at photos of yourself from the past and see what you wore and say, 'Ay, nakakatawa naman ako dito' or say, '80s kasi 'yan or 90s kasi 'yan,'” then you have to rethink it. Notice that there are some people who look stylish through time, that when they flip through their old photo albums or look at old pictures, they look chic no matter what. Events should be the same way.”
The beloved event stylist also shares that even those in the home can spruce up their tablescapes. Beautiful table spreads aren’t limited to expensive or grand events. “Having pegs won’t hurt,” she starts. “When I work with clients, I usually ask for five pegs and then I edit from there. At home, you can do the same thing. Look for peg you like and then edit.” Jo is also a fan of upcycling and working with what you have. “Remember that you can always repurpose, see what beautiful things you have like a bowl or your mom’s china. Take a look at your garden. Pick some flowers and use them as décor. If you want to add to what you have, you may buy beautiful but inexpensive candles. I also suggest that you bring out the nice old glasses you don’t use because glasses are beautiful when they’re hit by light. They add a bit of sparkle and sheen. You don’t have to replace what you have and rely on new things. Use what’s already there. Just make sure to edit, edit, and edit. Remember that you can cultivate your own taste. Practice makes things better.”
Read more about Jo Claravall in Metro Society magazine's latest issue, out on stands now for only P250.
Photographs by Paul Del Rosario and JC Inocian for Metro Society