"Fitness is fashion!" tweets Rajo Laurel every so often when he's off to his workout sessions, to motivate himself and his followers in the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. Indeed, fitness has never been hotter in the fashion world—in the sartorial manner, of course: sportswear emerged as one of the key trends from the international Spring/Summer 2012 runways, with glammed-up sporty garments appearing on the catwalks of Stella McCartney and Lanvin, among many others.
Rajo, forever quick on the pulse of what's luxe and happening, joined the big leagues by appropriating the trend and making it his own with his usual vibrant, luxe panache. With Athletenique, his Spring/Summer 2012 collection, he invites us to join the fitness bandwagon and gives us plenty of instruments—in jersey, leather suede, mesh, and a mad dash of prints—with which we can sharpen our style stamina.
Where does the collection title "Athletenique" come from? What is the concept behind it?
Rajo: Athletenique is my reaction to my current philosophy of "Fitness is fashion!" In many ways it is a manifestation of my new lifestyle translated into my work. The name of the collection is a combination of the words "athletic" and "ethnic," a fusion of the abstract aspects of ethnic prints and the spirit of sportswear. You will see a lot of sportswear-oriented items mixed with some nuanced tribal influences, which mainly come from the prints and the patterns of the fabrics, plus a dose of modern tribal accessories, which gives that needed spice and spin to the collection.
Aside from sportswear, what are the other summer 2012 trends that you have incorporated into this collection?
R: This season, summer is going to be a return to celebrating color. It's all about being vibrant and bright. The trends that emerged during Spring 2012 that resonated with me the most is of course the abundance of prints on the runways and the influence of sportswear. The difference is, the prints you'll see in Athletenique is more of an abstraction on the traditional idea of [what's] tribal and ethnic. As for sportswear, we used a lot of sporty elements (such as ribbing, elastics, mesh and knits), but a lot of it is kept in line with the original House of Laurel aesthetic.
Please tell us about the materials, colors, and techniques used in this collection.
R: The materials for this collection ran the gamut from our beloved jersey to an exquisite perforated leather suede, a multitude of prints, sporty cotton knits and a great find of high-quality nylons. We also utilized these beautiful garters in a range of different colors for straps and trims, including functional cargo buckles for closure. The colors we featured this season are delicious shades of mint and pear, a vibrant orange and magenta, canary, sea blues and a bevy of yummy neutrals—basically shades that are very well-lit and joyous. I'm sure the House of Laurel client will be very pleased with our selections come March 10, 2012.
What makes the pieces recognizably Rajo?
R: The amalgamation of inspiration for this collection is a bit more off-tangent than usual, I'd have to admit, but the end result is distinctly our own. The pieces retain the elegance and chic that past House of Laurel collections have been known to deliver—it's all still evening dressing that will make you stand out. The elements of sport and the vibrancy of print is brought together so seamlessly, the pieces lend itself a unique kind of appeal.
Who would you love to see in the Athletenique pieces?
R: I would love to see Anne Curtis-Smith, Georgina Wilson, Divine Lee, Solenn Heussaff, Belle Daza, Janina Dizon-Hoschka, Bea Soriano, Mandy Santos, Sarah Geronimo, Liz Uy and Pam Quiñones transform our collection by putting their own personal spin on any of the pieces from Athletenique. I was inspired by their energy, style, and beauty.
As for the men, I'd love to see Robby Carmona, Raymond Gutierrez, Dong Ronquillo, Erwan Heussaff, as well as Carlos and Mike Concepcion in Rajo Man! Our jackets with all the right touches of athleticism will be perfect for all of them! Rajo Man took more of the sportswear direction and is bringing chic nylon jackets to the fore with athletic mesh trims.They are more versatile and can lend themselves to both day and night, depending entirely on the styling.
If you had to choose, what are your favorite pieces from the collection?
R: I love the dresses in our fabulous prints! Key pieces in our collection would have to be the Luge long-sleeved printed dress, our Croquet Gown with garter strap embellishments and an asymmetrical hem, the Biathlon gown of piped patchwork in a multitude of prints, and the Paddle capelet, a chic addition to any wardrobe. These printed items are true must-haves for summer! I also love our peplum pieces that have a slight mid-century feel to the silhouette, such as the Archery blouse and the Archery dress.
As for Rajo Man, favorite pieces would have to be the Winkler trench jacket and the hybrid Pistorious jacket of nylon and athletic mesh!
Athletenique will be available at House of Laurel this Saturday, March 10, 2012.