For those of us who live in the midst of the fashion industry and frequently attend the runways, we adore playing detective. We are constantly trying to find new designers with the promise of greatness.
At LFW AW16, I was invited to attend the Fashion Utopias’ event (at Somerset House in London) — a project launched by The British Fashion Council in order to showcase young talents from around the world. It’s a platform and exposure for their creativity and designs that dance around the idea of building a better place.
While walking through the spaces, there was one piece which captivated me — a unique and rare little black dress.
There was an unusual fierceness to the shape and the way the materials were configured in this dress. It seemed to say “only for a brave woman”.
I immediately looked for the designer. There was a young man from the Philippines who raised his hand. His name is Thian Rodriguez.
An Interview with Thian Rodriguez
Mabel Gago: Thian, do you remember the first time you fell in love with fashion?
Thian Rodriguez: Yes, I can still remember. When I was in Grade 6, my cousin from Hong Kong had a short vacation here in Manila. By then she was working as a fashion buyer and merchandiser. She had this fashion magazine and Elie Saab’s Spring/Summer 2008 Couture collection was one of the highlights. “Diamonds Are Forever” was the theme of Saab’s collection with dresses in tulle, chiffon and silk with encrusted gems and stones. While looking at the collection and browsing the magazine, I felt a sudden excitement and pleasure. That was when I told myself that I wanted to be a fashion designer. I had a desire to learn more about fashion. So I started sketching, doing research about what is fashion, principles and elements etc. Plus, back then I was into theater arts, performing, directing, stage and costume designing etc. So my designs are the reflection of me as a designer, a visionary and an artist.
Mabel: Why do you think your designs suit women without fear?
Thian: I believe that women who are fearless and confident are the most beautiful women. They are unafraid to show the world who they really are and they are perfectly in love with their imperfections. It is a synthesis of power and femininity.
Mabel: Philippines and fashion — how is it going for young entrepreneurs in the local industry?
Thian: Today, we are getting more experimental and we do a lot of exploration. We are still on the process of finding our own fashion, but getting there. We are trying our best to inject ourselves in the international scene. As a young entrepreneur and designer, the execution of ideas is one of my greatest challenges due to the lack of financial assistance and manpower. It is truly frustrating to have a great idea in mind that you know is possible, but will be compromised. This I guess is what makes us different from others, the story of hardship and dedication that made us strong individuals.
Mabel: What are your next goals and projects?
Thian: My next goal is to truly establish my own brand. For now that is my only goal — to be an established brand!
Mabel: Tell us something about your experience at Fashion Utopias during LFW.
Thian: It is my first time in London and I’m still falling in love with it. LOL! LFW/IFS2016 was truly an amazing and remarkable experience. It deepens my perspective as a designer and it gives me a wider range of knowledge and inspiration. It uplifted me as a starting designer to really do my research. It made me realize that I should keep on innovating and inventing myself — that I should not be a stagnant designer who also falls on one idea and concept. Being part of LFW/IFS2016 is truly one of the major highlights of my career as an emerging designer. And, this is my Utopia!
And as a fashion visionary, I can say we will hear more about Thian Rodriguez in the near future.