Friday, May 11, 2012

When Success is in the Bag (Rafe Totengco and his designs)

Yes, Ana Viajera does fashion too. From Louis Vuitton private screenings to Garfield clothing fashion shows (my very first assignment as a writer, which never got printed!), I've done it all!

Published by Rektikano Magazine, 2010

An artist and a traveler: my kind of designer! (photos provided by Rafe)

Jessica Alba wears him. So does the Hilton sisters. Even Lindsay Lohan carries him around wherever she goes. Not bad for someone who started out by designing teachers’ school uniforms back in fifth grade.  

Spring 2010: Don't we still love the boho look?

Ramon Felix Totengco, a Lasallian student who used to design prom outfits back in La Salle Bacolod, is more known in the fashion world as Rafe Totengco: the most sought after bag designer based in New York. He has garnered several designer awards and credits his international success to his inspiring conversations with his namesake, Br. Felix, a lot of hard work, and a bagful of chutzpah. We recently had an interesting chat with Rafe, and he gave us a peek of what’s in the bag and the latest in accessories.

He travels for design inspiration! Chek out for the latest collection and travels!
How do you think did your Lasallian education help in your climb to success?
I went to La Salle Bacolod, from prep to high School. I graduated in 1985. I was fortunate to receive the level of education that I received in La Salle. I’m certain that it opened doors for me when I moved to the US.

Who do you remember was most inspiring or encouraging back in La Salle?

My teachers were very encouraging and supportive of my talents early on. They allowed me to dream that everything was possible if I truly wanted it. My classmates were also quite special, because they always had my back. Growing up ‘artistic’ and ‘different’ was quite a pleasant experience for me, because I felt nothing but love and support from everybody.  Brother Felix always made me feel welcome to talk about anything, and he was never judgemental about our conversations.

Rafe Totengco is also a Lasallian!

Can you remember a project back in school that was a sign of the path you are taking now?
I’ve loved fashion since I was in fifth grade, so you can say it was pre-destined. I designed costumes for school plays, prom outfits, teachers’ school uniforms… you name it, I did it. I joined every art contest there was.  I believe one of my wining pieces still hang in the high school library.

Any advice to those who are just about to start with their own brand?
It’s a business first and foremost with real deadlines and calendar dates you must abide by.  Do something that is true to yourself, because at the end of the day that is what it boils down to.  Buyers can spot something that isn’t authentic a mile away.

Rafe has created a collection that imbues the easy-breezy, casual bohemian soul.

What difficulties or road bumps did you have to go through to penetrate the fashion industry?
Every day is a challenge, and there are fires to put out on a daily basis. It never ends. But that’s what makes it even more rewarding when you achieve something.

To what do you attribute your success?
Sincerity, integrity, talent, and chutzpah.

What are some of your proudest moments?
When I received the TOYM in the Philippines, when Target asked me to be their first accessories guest designer, and when American Express chose me to be in their advertisement.


Can I get Ana Viajera to guest-blog at CherieCity, please? :P

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