Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Rocky Gathercole – The Avant Garde Knight Returns!

Written by Sheila Vertuno for F Magazine, Oct/Nov Issue

Scottsdale, AZ - By invitation, Rocky Gathercole returned to the desert and resided unnoticed in the V.I.P. section all 3 nights of Phoenix Fashion Week.  Incognito to most, I’d smile at him across the runway, while his name was thunderously announced every night, building the anticipation as the closing designer of the event. 

On the last night, I watched proud, front and center, as Rocky Gathercole’s “Celebration of Colours” collection hit the catwalk during Phoenix Fashion Week grand finale at Talking Stick Resort, Scottsdale Arizona on October 4th 2014. 

The 25-year anniversary collection was a reflection of the dark, colorful, playful and glamorous phases of Rocky’s personal and professional life. Like always, he pushed every boundary to deliver his own cutting edge unapologetic designs.  He used industrial metal and colorful loom bands for that innovative look and combined them with fringe beads, pearls and Swarovski for a feminine touch. I said it before and I will say it again… it was dashingly ferocious!

Photo by Desert Rh1no Photography

Photo by Desert Rh1no Photography

Photo by Desert Rh1no Photography

Photo by Desert Rh1no Photography

Click here for more Rocky Gathercole photos by Desert Rh1no Photography.

Many described it as a jaw-dropping collection, and I couldn’t agree more.  It was bold, entertaining and glamorous, all at the same time.  While tyro fashionistas may find his creations overwhelming, Rocky Gathercole Atelier is internationally acclaimed and a go to for Hollywood A-listers, the likes of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez …too many to list. 

When I asked him to describe his fashion designs, Rocky told me, “I’m a scene stealer and I want to leave a mark. I’d rather be flamboyant than boring.”  In a league of his own, Rocky said, “Women’s fashion is boundless! However, most people only see what they want to see.  My creations are not for everyone, especially not for the ‘boxed’ mind.' It captivates those with inquisitive and artful taste.”  Very Gathercole, I say!

The “Avant Garde Knight” is the title that I coined for Rocky Gathercole when I first saw his AH-MAH-ZING collection last year.  No hiding behind the shining armor, Rocky is shy, soft-spoken, selfless and wears his emotions on his sleeve… so authentic!  His humble beginnings keep him grounded and grateful for his achievements. I asked if he dreamt of making it this far, and recollecting his younger years, he said, “Kapag nasa kalye ka, wala kang pangarap. Ang nasa isip mo lang ay kaligtasan ng buhay.” (Translation: When you live in the streets you have no dream.  Your only focus is survival.)  He is slow to claim what he has now as success for “success has a different meaning to everyone,” he said. 

Comforted by vanilla ice cream and chocolate cake, we laughed and cried as we shared each other’s life stories.  I will never forget his words, “Yung ngang wala puede, yun pang meron!” (Translation: If one could make it with not having anything, one could certainly make it with a little bit more.) Truly inspiring!

On a lighter note, here’s a quick Q&A with Rocky:
  • Who is your fashion icon(s)? Thierry Mugler, Bob Mackie, Jean Paul Gaultier, Alexander McQueen
  • If you could talk to anyone, past or present, who would it be?  Princess Diana
  • Who would you like to dress that you haven’t yet?  Barbara Streisand
  • Who is your favorite science fiction character? Mystique
  • Daytime or nighttime? I am an early bird
  • Coffee or tea? Tea

From London Fashion Week, Phoenix Fashion Week, and recent Los Angeles photo shoots with For the Stars Fashion House, Rocky jets back to Manila for Halloween by Rocky Gathercole at Solaire Grand Ballroom on October 31st, 2014.  Next month, Rocky will support the Filipino Designers Association of the Philippines (FDAP) fashion show scheduled on November 26th , 2014 while he prepares as the official designer of Julie Anne San Jose for her Hologram Concert at the MOA Arena on December 13th 2014.

Mabuhay ka, Rocky Gathercole.  You are blessed with a genuine heart and incredible talent.  You are absolutely one of a kind!  My love and respect to you always!


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Philippine Couture Takes the Desert by Storm

This year’s Phoenix Fashion Week, held at Talking Stick Resort on October 2-4, 2014, was a record breaker in many ways.  Attendance hit a record high; 7 out of 13 emerging designers vying for the 2014 Designer of the Year are locally based; and, for the 3rd year in a row, Philippine haute couture graced the runway for the finale.  In fact, a total of 5 Filipino couturiers took the stage, with 3 of them closing each night of the event! How cool is that!?!   

Albert Andrada

Click here for more Albert Andrada photos by Desert Rh1no Photography.

The crowd ooh-ed and aah-ed as the “Cultured Couture Eveningwear” by Albert Andrada, closed the first night. Absolutely red carpet worthy!  Who could forget Paris Hilton in Andrada’s fully sequined ivory dress sans undies at the 2014 Grammy Awards?

A true visionary, Albert was tapped by the luxury furnishings brand, Ethan Allen for an unforgettable collaboration.  When I asked about his inspiration behind "The New Eclecticism" launched in September 2014, he said, “This is one collaboration I will never forget, a very challenging project for me. Ethan Allen collaborated with 3 designers. One coming from the Interior design industry, another is an Accessory designer and myself from the Fashion designing industry. They decided to come up with a different concept, ideas coming from artists in different fields. My inspiration is the blue and white china porcelain. The whole concept of the design is oriental and old Hollywood glam.”

Albert will be representing the Philippines in the upcoming prestigious, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Asia to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on October 20-22, 2014.

Aris Pico

Click here for more Aris Pico photos by Desert Rh1no Photography.

Growing up, Aris was inspired by dresses donned by “sagalas” (translation: maiden) in traditional Flores de Mayo or Santa Cruzan.  He then dreamt of creating magical gowns for the women in this once a year novena procession remembering St. Helena’s mythical finding of the cross.  Dreams came true for this talented and hardworking young designer, who debuted his first collection in Philippine Fashion Week. 

Aris’ inner lacing, vine-like embroideries and embellishments, pearls and crystal details that screamed feminine glamour was a dazzling finale on the 2nd night of Phoenix Fashion Week. The final dress reminded of a fairytale ending!

Kenneth Harion

Cebu native, Kenneth Harion is quickly making a name in America and Middle East.  While currently based in Kuwait, he has stimulated interests in Hollywood, attracting celebrities the like of Beyonce.

Kenneth's collection can be described as artful glitz and glamour.  The dancing colors of aurora borealis hotfix, sparkling Swarovski crystals and intricate beading details are hard to miss! I won't be surprised to see these gowns in major red carpet events. 

Yen Bari

Click here for more Yen Bari photos by Desert Rh1no Photography.

After leaving his nuclear medical profession in 2009, Yen Bari realized his passion and talent in couture designing. Quickly noticed by the ruling families in the United Arab Emirates, he would exhibit his collections only to high profile dignitaries before releasing to the general public.  Previewed only to royalties, I would love to witness the dramatic execution of his "Ode to Melancholy" collection, made of recycled materials such as rubber and plastic, and inspired by his sad and dark side.

While he showcased only a few of his white dresses in Phoenix, Yen’s whole bridal collection is elegant and sophisticated. That I would also like to see!

Yen is the first Abu Dhabi designer to historically showcase at London Fashion Week.  In less than 5 years, his captivating designs have landed in London Fashion Week, Metropolitan Fashion Week, and Los Angeles Fashion Week runways.  Phoenix Fashion Week now also adds to the list.  

The House of Yen has branches in the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait.

Rocky Gathercole

Click here for more Rocky Gathercole photos by Desert Rh1no Photography.

Just 2 weeks after London Fashion Week 2014, Rocky jetted back to the desert by invitation, again for the grand finale of Phoenix Fashion Week. This time, Rocky Gathercole Atelier brought his jaw-dropping 25-year anniversary collection, “Celebration of Colours.” Rocky’s creations were bold and unapologetic; reflective of the dark, colorful, playful and glamorous transitions in his life and career journey. 

The Avant Garde Knight is grateful for a roster of A-list celebrity clients like Jennifer Lopez, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Jordin Sparks, Bai Ling and many more.  Yet, Rocky is so down to earth and always quick with a punch line.  He is quite funny!  Read about my one on one with Rocky here, including a full video of his collection. 

A league of his own, Rocky says, “Women’s fashion is boundless! However, most people only see what they want to see.  My creations are not for everyone, especially not for the ‘boxed’ mind.”

From Phoenix, Rocky will make a quick stop at his atelier in For the Stars Fashion House in Los Angeles before heading to Asia to support the Fashion Designers Association of the Philippines (FDAP) runway show in November.  

Rocky Gathercole’s flagship store in Quezon City, Philippines houses elaborate wedding gowns, eveningwear, editorial creations and art pieces. By popular demand, Rocky’s atelier is set to hit Canada and New York before the end of the year.

Thank you Phoenix Fashion Week and For the Stars Fashion House for bringing internationally renowned haute couture to the Valley of the Sun.  Rumor has it that Phoenix Fashion Week will continue to showcase Filipino designers in the future. Can't wait! Applause!!!