Sunday, September 14, 2008

Me In Business Mirror (Romance According To Rajo)

My photos graced today's (09/15/2008) edition of Business Mirror in the "Life" section entitled "Romance According To Rajo" by C. Mendez Legaspi. I received an SMS from the author (C. Mendez Legaspi) about the article. I'm still waiting for my copy and check the photos in print myself.

During the Rajo Red! fashion show, I finally got the chance to meet the fabulous C. Mendez Legaspi. However brief, I was happy to finally put a face to a colleague who help me published some of my photos in newspaper. Much to my surprise he's also from Mindanao (Cagayan De Oro)! Small world indeed. Daghang salamat jud kaayo sa imoha. Thanks also to sir Dong Omaga-Diaz for introducing me to him.

Below is the article (click here for the link):

By C. Mendez Legaspi

‘I live for fashion! It is like air or water for me,” Rajo Laurel says with palpable passion. “Without fashion, I would cease to exist! I study it very closely. It is already part of me.” This assertion by the prolific designer was proven in an astonishing show at the Makati Shangri-La when he celebrated 15 fruitful years in fashion in a gala called Rajo Red! The fund-raising event, spearheaded by Laurel’s sister Venisse and his best friend and muse Tessa Prieto-Valdes, was for the benefit of the Makati Chapter of the Philippine National Red Cross. Directed by Robby Carmona, the show was presented by Globe Platinum, Sony Ericsson and the Makati Shang.

Laurel’s 65-piece collection, varied and vainglorious, were heavily inspired by his archived journals painstakingly kept all these years. Romance and luxury—his avowed aesthetic—are the keywords that informed his accomplished collection, with exquisite fabrics like Italian silk, crepe de Chine, Bisque taffeta, beaded tulle, silk organza, silk gazaar all adorning his creations.

“I have always been a disciple of Cristobal Balenciaga. Ever since I was a young designer, I was already in awe of his work. I have also been influenced by the great designing minds such as Geoffrey Beene, Azzedine Alaia, Gianfranco Ferre and Valentino,” Laurel says of his fashion heroes that he paid tribute to in his show. “I am also influenced by architects like Geoffrey Bawa and Tadao Ando.”

To help him raise the needed funds for disaster management, Laurel selected 25 women special to him. Those that particularly inspire him? “I have always been attracted to women with character. I would have to say that Mrs. Imelda Cojuangco’s style is a big influence on me. My friends have a big impact in my designs as well, like Leica Carpo, Tina Maristela-Ocampo and Mandy Santos. However, it is my sisters that test-drive the designs and give me honest and grounded feedback with the work that I do.”

The gentle designer demurs when asked how much was raised during the glittering evening. “Tessa and Venisse are in charge of the funds. I only did the show,” he says with a laugh. “Why so few red dresses? I did not want the show to be too literal! I wanted to tell a story, and I thought that I did not have to inundate everyone with red dresses. That would have been trivial and expected.”

What lessons and insights has he learned after 15 years in a cutthroat business? “Humility and perseverance are very important in this line of work. I am blessed with a good team and this has taught me to take care of my people. Discipline is also a very important factor, as it is not always about art but a balance between art and commerce.”

Besides his well-entrenched name among the country’s most sought-after designers, what is he most proud of? “I think winning the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. It’s a very prestigious award!”

“I want to be in Vogue!” Laurel says with wishful glee. “I want the world to know how extremely talented we are in the Philippines! It is about time that they see more of our work. There is still so much that I want to do, and everyday I feel as if it is the first day of a fantastic voyage into fashion!”

To keep his ideas fresh, current and modern, he “travels a lot, and I read a lot of books! I also recently discovered the computer and its powers, and this has been really occupying my time. I am a guest blogger in My blog is in the ‘Insider’s Fashion’ section. The Internet is really amazing!”

So what’s next for the “phenomenal designer,” as he is introduced as a judge in Project Runway Philippines? “I really want to rest first; I feel like I did a fashion marathon, with the Fashion Watch Quartet show and the Red Ribbon cakes , followed by a collection for Plains and Prints, then Project Runway, then the Rajo Red! gala. I need to take a breather. Just like an athlete, I need to recharge and rest.”

And what the fashion world can do is wait with bated breath.

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