This Filipino designer’s bags have made it into the hands of Doja Cat, Astrid Leung, and more

Andrei Yuvallos@inquirerdotnet

Photos from Neil Felipp’s Instagram

What do Doja Cat, the cast of “Crazy Rich Asians,” and Dolly De Leon have in common? They’ve all worn bags and accessories by Filipino designer Neil Felipp.

On the surface, the likes of Doja Cat, Dolly De Leon, the cast of the hit movie “Crazy Rich Asians,” and Bella Poarch don’t have much in common. But when you take a closer look—especially at their red carpet looks—you’ll quickly notice a very chic common denominator.


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They’ve all worn minaudières by Filipino designer Neil Felipp San Pedro.

“Honestly, I thought it was a joke,” San Pedro says about how his Suzy Wong minaudière ended up in the hands of Doja Cat during the 2022 New York Fashion Week.

Thinking it was a scam, San Pedro did his due diligence and found that Doja Cat’s stylists were the real deal. He sent over a few of his pieces, and the next thing he knew, his phone was ringing off the hook.

Doja Cat walked down one of the most iconic red carpet fashion events with his bright cherry red Suzy Wong minaudière.


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Minaudières are a fashion accessory that combines the aesthetics of jewelry and the functionality of a bag in one. It’s a fashion statement, to say the least, and the minaudières of the Cebu-born designer are red carpet mainstays.

Prior to his red carpet success and the launch of his eponymous brand in 2010, San Pedro graduated from the University of the Philippines Cebu majoring in industrial design (now product design).


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He apprenticed under fellow Cebuano and furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue, whose pieces have found their way into the homes of Hollywood celebrities and literal royalty.

“A lot of the things I actually learned was through working with [Cobonpue],” San Pedro says of his three year internship with the furniture designer. “He’s still my mentor and one of my biggest critics today, and I love him for that.”

San Pedro’s craft though doesn’t fall solely on his shoulders. He works with a team of local artisans who deal in metalwork, shells, and other materials (who also happen to be some of his childhood friends) that bring his designs off the page and into real life.

A crazy, rich story

One of the landmark moments in San Pedro’s career so far has been the crazy journey of how his bag landed in the hands of Astrid Leung in the 2018 film “Crazy Rich Asians.”

“Kevin Kwan came [to the Philippines] to promote his second book ‘China Rich Girlfriend’ from ‘Crazy Rich Asians.’ During his book tour, one of my clients was carrying one of my minaudières. My friend showed it to him, and all of a sudden, he was so amazed by it. He asked, ‘Who made this?’”

The Suzy Wong minaudière made it to Kwan’s Instagram and instantly became a viral sensation.


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“Everybody started messaging me saying ‘Neil! Kevin Kwan noticed your bag!’ and I’d be honest and say, ‘Who’s Kevin Kwan?”

After the whirlwind attention, San Pedro reached out to Kwan through Instagram to thank him for his post. After mutually following each other, conversation flowed between the two creatives and how they approached their art.

San Pedro literally entered the world of “Crazy Rich Asians” in the third installment of the series, ‘Rich People Problems,’ where his Suzy Wong minaudière made a special appearance in the book. But something bigger was coming in the form of a screen adaptation.

“When the greenlight for the movie came out, he asked ‘Neil would you be open to let us feature your bags in the movie,” Kwan asked San Pedro. And his response was an obvious and resounding yes.

Kwan then sent a personal recommendation to the film’s director John M. Chu and costume designer Mary E. Vogt. Within 24 hours, they requested all of his available designs with a promise that they’ll only be used by primary actors.

In the end, his designs came out in three scenes and they were all used by one character: the iconic Astrid Leung.

“It was so beautiful because the only person I really wanted [to wear my designs] was Astrid,” San Pedro laughs.


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In one of the most important scenes in the movie (the one where she walks down the aisle at Araminta’s wedding with her grandmother after her huge fight with her scumbag husband), we see Astrid carrying a Siren minaudière.

According to San Pedro, it was a full circle moment because one of his more recent designs—The Phoenix minaudière—was inspired by her character.

“[Astrid] was actually the inspiration for the Phoenix because of how she presented herself and how she got out of that horrible marriage.”


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With a growing client list of both local and international celebrities, San Pedro makes the case for Filipino craftsmanship and excellence deserves attention on the global stage. All of it is for a bigger purpose, though.

“Everything I do is for the Philippines and Cebu. It’s more than just me as a brand. It’s a gift to be a platform for the craft.”