After all the interviews we’ve done in the past, there’s really nothing more to say about Rafē Totengcoexcept for the fact that he’s a creative genius. And as expected, there’s no stopping this Presidential Awardee from producing luxurious statement-making pieces with a surge of clients (Hollywood celebs included!) clamoring for more every season.
So what’s new with Rafē, you ask? We were lucky enough to meet with him for a quick chat last week during the launch of his latest collection, and as always, a fashion high struck again (you know, that relentless feeling when you see something so fabulous that you just can’t wait to go straight to the cash register to get ahead of everyone else?). But before you rush to Rustan’s, read on for the interview to find out about the latest in Rafē’s world:
What was the inspiration behind your Resort 2013 collection?
What inspired me was Art Deco, as in all references of Art Deco in New York. So when you look at all my pieces, it’s almost like what you’ll see in the buildings—the Empire State or Rockefeller Center—all those different references.
What exciting elements can we look forward to in your latest offering?
I’m trying to incorporate mother-of-pearl in any way I can; it’s subtle and it picks up color beautifully. What I love about using this element is that it brings me back to our roots in a modern way.
And I have to tell you, what’s been incredible for us since we launched the brand is that the reaction to the minaudières have been tremendous and we cannot keep them in stock! That to me is something I’m really proud of and happy about because, you know, I actually say that they'reproudly made in the Philippines.
Also, I love prints! I haven’t met a print that I didn’t like. So what I love about being able to work with prints is that it allows me to express color and variety. It’s something that you’ll see from me going forward—to always be doing prints and play with texture.
What's it like to be the Creative Director of a huge company like Jones New York?
So far, it’s been nothing but a dream. What’s incredible about working in a corporation like Jones is that they hire the best of the best—I feel completely supported in marketing, sales, PR, design, and production—I mean there are people who can do everything so I don’t feel like I have to do everything myself. It’s a relief! I could never, ever do what I do without my team. No man’s an island, right? It takes a village!
Do you have Filipinos on your team?
None, actually. Not that I choose not to.
But I'm sure with your expertise, everyone looks up to you!
I hope so! (laughs)
Is this collection, by far, your favorite?
You know, that’s really hard to say, because every season becomes my favorite. I mean, it’s fashion, every season is gonna be your favorite! And that’s what I love about fashion—it’s constantly changing.
Do you ever run out of ideas?
How could I? I travel so much and I look at everything and I always say I’m a sponge—I really look at everything. And here’s the thing: You never know where inspiration comes from but if you open your eyes, you’ll see. The most unexpected sources for inspiration are just out there, so there’s always something to keep me going.
Aside from Gwyneth Paltrow and Sarah Jessica Parker, do you have any other dream Hollywood clients?
Listen, I would like all of them to wear a Rafē! That would be the dream—not necessarily one person, but all. Whoever wears it, I’m happy. I’m not necessarily targeting one person because that’s crazy. I don’t want to set myself up for failure—whoever wants to wear it, absolutely, yes! I call it equal opportunity: You wanna wear my clutch? Go ahead! (laughs)
We miss your blog on Stylebible! How can we keep in touch?
Simply follow me on Instagram (@rafenewyork) because through there you’ll see what I see. And it’s definitely a visual experience.
Rafē is exclusively available at Rustan's Makati and EDSA Shangri-La Plaza.
Click on the photo gallery for Rafē’s Resort 2013 collection and find out what he has to say about his lovely pieces.