By Liza Ilarde
October 28 was the day after the Red Charity Gala, the day after Rajo Laurel presented his 25th anniversary collection, when everyone was talking about the show. And I was asked: What were your favorite pieces? Hmmm I had to think about that. I was hard-pressed to pick out even just one from the 92-piece collection because, well, there were just too many that I couldn’t recall the ones that made an impact. Because the truth was the entire show was one huge impact—and I guess that was what Rajo wanted to make.
As a fashion journalist, I have been covering Rajo’s shows since his first one held at the now-defunct Mars disco back in the early 90s. From that first show, it was already evident that here was one designer who works throughly on his concept. From his inspiration to the creation to the final presentation, every look is complete. From model to model, from head to toe, from how each piece follows the next on the runway, it is obvious (at least to me) how well Rajo plans each show. So if he wanted to show 92 pieces at the Red Charity Gala, it’s because that is how he planned it.
In the two-minute black-and-white video that opened the show, Rajo tells the viewer that his 25th-anniversary collection is called Archipelago, “essentially an essay… my attempt to define what Philippine fashion is now.” And what Philippine fashion is now is involving the entire country—its textiles, its weaves, its artisans, its stories—and Rajo took his inspiration from there. It seemed like he collaborated with Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, and their people, cultures, colors, and skills, which in the end help define him as a Filipino designer, especially in the international scene, where he wants to say, “I’m from the Philippines, I’m a Filipino fashion designer…these are my people, this is my heritage, and this is the magic that we weave.”
In the video, he talks about being a catalyst for change. “I’ve been a catalyst for good,” he said, concluding with “I’m grateful—what I do is what I love, and I love what I do.” And it really shows that Rajo Laurel loves what he does, so much that he does not know when—does not want—to stop. Never stop, Rajo.
For more info, go to redcharitygala.com, rajolaurel.com