“I am Manila,” says Rajo Laurel upon explaining to CNN how Manila has strongly influenced him as a renowned Filipino designer. “People have asked me: how do you sort of like try to make it abroad? I always say, show them where you’re from. Show them what Manila is, show them what being a Filipino is, and that’s the only way you can stand out and shine.” he adds. Loving local, Laurel’s designs always have a true Filipino touch to it. His newest Spring/Summer 2018 line called ‘When I Was Five’, for instance, boasts voluminous ruffles and extravagant bows in bright jewel tones, capturing the innate Filipino quality of celebration. “…fiestas, events, every single month there’s something happening, across all income brackets. There’s always that joy there, and for me, that’s Filipino.”
But apart from translating the Filipino culture to fashion, Laurel is also the best tour guide we didn’t see coming. Sure, we’ve met actual tour guides in the past, and even beauty queens like Rachel Peters who recently showed off the beauty of Siargao, but having a look at Manila through the eyes of a designer is refreshing and interesting. Ever wondered where a visionary spends his downtime?
Recently, Laurel was featured in CNN where he talked about his relaxing day-trip guide to Tagaytay, his love for taking guests to the National Museum, and the best hole-in-the-wall eateries in the neighborhood of Poblacion, Makati (Bucky’s is his favorite spot for mid-afternoon snacks). After being in the industry for two decades, it’s about time that we got to know more about the man behind the stunning gowns of Manila’s high society and celebrities.
In-article images and video: Rajo Laurel | CNN