Two successful labels, one coveted design award after another, the ability to gracefully permeate the worlds of couture, bridal, ready-to-wear and even childrenswear: it’s a résumé that just keeps on growing. And with esteemed Filipino fashion designer Rajo Laurel, we see no signs of him slowing down. “Fashion is like water to me. It’s like air. I need it to exist,” he explains. “It’s what makes me excited to wake up every morning.” Indeed, it shows not only in the body of work he produces but in the way he deals with the people around him; he has managed to grow with an entire industry in which he has cemented his place in—still, with that twinkle in his eye. “I began my journey as a fashion designer when I was 11 years old,” share Rajo. “[I feel like] an innate eye for fashion was enhanced through training at New York Fashion Institute of Technology and at Central Saint Martins in London.” In 1993, the year he officially began his professional career, Rajo did more than make waves: He became a finalist in MEGA Magazine’s first Young Designers Competition and placed second in the ASEAN Young Designers Competition. The following year, he won the Air France Young Designer of the Year award. What happened next would be a series of collections that attracted and garnered the trust and admiration of Filipino women. Rajo Laurel is living, breathing proof that growth as a creative individual is something one has to cultivate in order to succeed. It’s something you owe yourself. Only you are responsible for catapulting yourself forward. It all ends when you say it ends, you plateau only when you decide to and you can harness your talent and creativity to build your own momentum. [one_half] Rajo Laurel’s Spring 2016 collection was one that pleasantly surprised fans, clientele and industry folk alike. It was a far cry from luxurious, eye-catching ensembles, bright color ways and elaborate embellishments. “Like any journey into design one has to begin with a road map. A frame of mind where one can begin the story of where we would like to take you,” says Rajo on his blog. “For our Spring and Summer offerings I wanted to begin in a place of solitude, calm and peace. I wanted to create a collection that is pure, clean and free.” [/one_half] [one_half_last] [/one_half_last] The collection entitled the Monast is about turning a new leaf as the seasons change and warmer summer days approach inspired by religious vestments. “I had a vision in my head of what people from religious orders wore like monks, priests and nuns and from there we began seeking inspiration,” he says. The collection features relaxed drawstring tops, lightweight denim separates, dramatic structured ruffles, the widely celebrated genderless shirts all told through a cool, crisp color story. More than anything, the Monast is about the Rajo man and woman separating themselves from old ways and returning to basics. It’s about slowing down to take a breath.