I first met you when you were taking your BA at Westminster University. Can you give me a brief overview of your career since those heady days at Northwick Park?
After graduating I went straight back to work, as I actually spent all my savings on my final year collection ‘who needs a superhero?’ It got amazing reviews and ended up in the front page of the Metro newspaper, everyone wanted their pic with the newspaper and me that day which was so weird and cool.
My work has also been published in Vogue Japan, which is one of my favourite men’s fashion magazines. Lady Gaga’s stylist and creative designer for French super label, Thierry Mugler actually emailed me requesting to shoot my work for the magazine. I obviously went hyper psycho after reading that! He flew it to New York and it ended up being the main story for the magazine that issue.
Other magazines with have featured my work include Disorder, GQ Style, Chaos, As You Are, Homme Style, QX…and other ones I can’t think of off the top of my head which is really bad of me…eeek!
How would you describe the aesthetic of your designs and why does this make them particularly suitable to be worn by a musicians like those featured on Styled to Rock?
I would say my style is very sports based. I like to work with fabrics that have a function e.g. being breathable and waterproof. I would relate my aesthetic to labels such as JCDC, MOSHINO and LACOSTE.
I think one of the important things I have learnt from being on Styled to Rock is how adaptable my designs are to cater for the music artists that are on the show. Being on the show so far I’ve designed for Kanye West, Rizzle Kicks, Little Mix, Katy B and super pop girl band The Saturdays. All very different genres of music and people, but I’m proud that it still shows me as a designer with signature design details and features. You know it’s still all very sporty, colour blocked and functional clothing in the designs and I’m really happy with it.
You have often spoken about your Filipino heritage and how this influences your strong work ethic. Do you regularly return to your home country and what do you do when you’re there?
I don’t go to the Philippines as much as I want to, but when I’m there I like to explore new places and meet new people. Usually my whole family goes up and down the country and visits relatives. The Philippines is also known for family love, I still meet new cousins, aunts and uncles every time I go back home, which I enjoy so much and am very surprised by the never ending family line. I love ‘family’ and knowing everything about them, it’s actually something that’s embedded in me, based on the fact that what ever I do is for them in a way. Which makes me want to work harder and better for them and myself. To me this is a strong part of my heritage and what inspires me to work the way I do.
How has being on Styled To Rock influenced your career?
I am so thankful for being part of Styled to Rock. It really is an elevated platform to showcase who I am, not only in the UK but worldwide. I’m so thankful that people in the Philippines are taking notice of my achievements. I’ve had TV reports and interviews about me and Styled to Rock and that makes me happy as I would love to build a creative bridge between the UK and the Philippines. It’s given me a new direction creatively as I really want to work more closely with music artists and help create a personal identity for them, using my design knowledge to cater for what they want. STR has really paved a way for me to do that and given me a chance to carry on.
What has the response to your appearance on the show been like?
It’s been great and very positive from all ends. Even though the show is only broadcast in the UK, I’ve had twitter messages from amazing people in Brazil, Indonesia and Italy, all of them understanding my designs and really all being very supportive. I think what the show has proven is that fashion is all about hard work and a lot of love and I think it’s a massive break through to silencing all the bullshit bitchiness that happens in the industry. Fashion is 100% Passion…LOL!
The majority of your clothes are in bright primary colours. Any plans to alter this colour pallet in the future?
Yes. In the very near future..haha!
[N.B. Not long after I asked this question I saw a whole lot of new designs in black and white! –R.]
Much has been said about the kind of unpaid internships that are often necessary to break into the fashion industry. What has been your own experience of this system?
This is a really tricky one for me to answer actually. I would say that in my own experience I didn’t get paid. But I did learn a lot whilst I was doing my internship. Industry experience is so necessary especially in the creative fields, because it really prepares you for what to expect after you graduate. And that’s key to getting your foot in the door. There are internships that are paid…I just don’t know any off the top of my head!
What advice would you have for fashion students graduating this summer?
I would say go on a weeklong holiday because you deserve it!! Get yourself into a design agency, they have the jobs you want, they have all the contacts you need to get a job in the area you want.
Rihanna hand-selected you to appear on the show. What do you think about her personal style?
I love her style, I like how she can be anything she wants to be. She can be anything from a rock chick or urban hipster to a princess and she can pull it off. And that’s a lot to do with the confidence and the playful attitude she has with fashion, she’s really never one to say no to anything. And I have a lot of respect for people who are that brave to dress the way they do and Rihanna has that.
What can we expect from you and I AM RALPH in the future?
Oh man there’s so many projects on at the moment, but I can’t yet reveal what they are due to contract agreements…I’ll just say that you’ll be seeing a lot of I AM RALPH in the very near future. X
And that can only be a good thing…