HOW DID THE COLLABORATION COME ABOUT? HOW DID THEY APPROACH YOU, AND WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION?
One of their top executives approached our managing director, Hamish Menzies, during last year’s Paris Fashion Week. Hamish was in Paris overseeing our showcase, and [the executive] loved the label. He loved the entire idea behind it. But he was not too sure about any of our current collections because Bendel has such a distinct look and image. Hamish offered to create a line especially for them and things started from that point. I then started working with their people in New York; they sent exclusive signature Bendel artwork [that I could] somehow incorporate in the collection for them. Needless to say, there was still no guarantee at that point, and it all relied on presenting an amazing collection to them.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT EXCLUSIVELY DESIGNING A HANDBAG LINE FOR THE STORE?
I must confess I am pretty obsessed with Mad Men, and whenever I'd see the ladies carrying the Henri Bendel shopping bags on the show, I would get so thrilled! Haha.
I am so flattered at the chance to do something like this, and I am so excited that everything is turning out well. It is such an exciting time for our label, and New York was a city we weren't yet exposed to. We could not have hoped for a better way to enter the market.
DOES THE ROCIO LABEL IDENTIFY AS FILIPINO? ARE THE ROCIO FOR HENRI BENDEL DESIGNS REPRESENTATIVE OF THE FILIPINO AESTHETIC IN ANY WAY?
Yes, the label can be indentified as Filipino because of the material we use. Aside from acacia wood, our Vice President of Global Operations Tessa Nepomuceno always guides me to incorporate more indigenous materials such as mother-of-pearl, abalone, etc. The overall concept of our label is to incorporate luxe indigenous materials, but to still engage the foreign market.
With Bendel this was not the case. We created solely with their clients in mind. It was important that the collection highly complement their iconic brand.
WHAT ARE ITS SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES TO YOUR PAST COLLECTIONS?
The only similarity Is the use of hand-carved acacia wood on every bag. Aside from that, the collection is truly unique mainly because we were given exclusive permission to create using Bendel's symbolic artwork.
WHO DO YOU ENVISION WEARING THESE PIECES?
Although the main goal Is to target Bendel's loyal clients, we also wanted the collection to appeal to most women who love fashion and enjoy the idea of something very distinctive. So hopefully they will appeal to any woman who enjoys fashion and is after something truly unique.
DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVORITE PIECES FROM THIS LINEUP?
The striped clutch is truly my favorite. I find it so simple yet so stylish and fun.
HOW IS THE LINE BEING RECEIVED BY CONSUMERS?
I am pleased to say extremely well. The buy-through and feedback have been so positive. We are all very thrilled.
WILL THIS BE AN ONGOING PROJECT? THAT IS, WILL THE ROCIO BRAND BE PERMANENTLY CARRIED BY HENRI BENDEL?
This is yet to be finalized, but the proposal seems very encouraging. As for now, we are just pleased to have been able to collaborate with such an iconic brand and create something very unique.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR ROCIO?
We just finished our first bridal collection, which is currently displaying in Paris during Tranoï [a trade show during Paris Fashion Week]. Hamish is there now overseeing the showcase. We are also increasing our expansion plans, and are currently in talks with a big multinational company about an exciting possible agreement.
Locally, we are enjoying our exclusive retail partnership with L Manila in Greenbelt 5, where our new bridal collection will be retailing in next month.>