“I actually just stumbled by accident into bridal—a client who commissioned me to do gowns for her mother and her groom’s mother bought a ready-to-wear gown which got ruined by a bad repair job,” recalls designer Rosenthal Tee. Many will shy away from such a challenge, but the then 25-year-old-designer faced it head on and created the bride’s dream wedding gown in just eight days. Today, she’s a mainstay on the list of go-to designers when it comes to bridalwear, on top of being known for no-fuss yet still feminine and elegant pieces. She will also open this year’s Metrowear Luxe Fashion Show to be held on November 14 at Dusit Thani Manila.
Bea Alonzo and Anne Curtis in Rosenthal Tee pieces, in Metro's November 2015 issue.
Rosenthal could have been a shoe designer (her mom used to have her own shoe line while her dad’s side of the family has a thriving shoe business in Marikina, no less), an artist (she took a lot of art workshops during her younger years), a musician (she took voice and cello lessons as well), or a finance hotshot (she has a Management Economics degree from the Ateneo). She could have been a creative in London, where she earned a master’s degree from Istituto Marangoni and various certificates from Central St. Martins College of Art and Design and the London College of Fashion, and was accepted as an intern at the House of Alexander McQueen (rules and regulations regarding hiring foreigners were pretty stringent that time, though, so that one didn’t pan out). But after some time interning at a few startup businesses in the United Kingdom, realizations clicked and things fell into place for her in a way that only pointed that having her own fashion line was her destiny.
“I thought to myself ‘I have to be smart about this—I studied fashion, I think I’ve learned all I needed to learn, so if I would just waste my time on a job that would not support everything me and my parents invested in, sayang lang my effort. I talked to my folks, I said, ‘I think I have better focus now I can go home and start my own,” Rosenthal shares. Armed with her innate talent, learnings from London, and loads of confidence and determination, she set up shop at her father’s childhood home in Marikina, creating pieces for her first clients: Her ninang, her grandmother, and her grandmother’s friends. “They were a strong support group—they criticize to the bone that’s why now I have a stronger acumen when it comes to the finishing of a certain piece. They were very sharp, they know what was good because they’ve been around to all the well-known designers so they know if you were just slacking off, or talking your way out of it—that taught me a lot.”
Rosenthal's bridal masterpieces are characterized by modern silhouettes made special with intricate and exquisite embroidery and beading.
So while many people her age were busy with nights out and social media hobnobbing, Rosenthal was focused on perfecting her craft. “I always criticize my own work, it gets to a point that I have to stop looking at it cause I’m gonna see more flaws the longer I look at it, so I try not to be as OC about it,” she notes laughingly. This quest for the best is also something she has taught her team of sewers, training them to develop a keen eye for detail. “I realized it’s impossible to make everything perfect all the time because I’m not a surgeon, I can’t fix everything—but I can make the best of what’s there and help women flaunt their best asset.”
Her drive and hard work have enabled her to achieve her goals faster than most budding designers—her luxury ready-to-wear line is a bestseller at Filipino lifestyle boutique Myth, she has dressed a number of top Filipina celebrities both for events and television roles, and in 2014, was the youngest designer to be part of the Philippine contingent for the Mercedes Benz Stylo Fashion Week in Malaysia. “It was scary because I was invited with the likes of really big designers like Albert Andrada, and I was the only one who wasn’t part of the Fashion and Design Council of the Philippines. They were all nice people but they were probably like, ‘Who’s this girl?’ because I look younger than my age, but I think I was able to show what I can come up with as well in terms of creativity.” Oh, and have I mentioned that she’s also an instructor at the School of Fashion and Arts?
Kapamilya beauties in Rosenthal's pieces, from left: Gretchen Ho, Julia Barretto, Maxene Magalona, Bela Padilla, Isabelle Daza, and Bianca Gonzalez-Intal (top). Jodi Sta. Maria as Amor Powers in Pangako Sa'Yo and Kim Chiu as Andrea Hidalgo in Ikaw Lamang, both in Rosenthal Tee (bottom).
Needless to say, the hot young fashion maven is like the woman she designs for: A woman of power who doesn’t back down from challenges no matter how many things she’s got going on—be it deadlines, long to-do lists, having to juggle so many things at once, or needing to overcome challenges. And for her first ever show in the country as the opening presentation at Metrowear Luxe, you will see pieces for the busy, on-the-go Rosenthal Tee woman from when she starts her day early in the morning to when she ends it at midnight. “It’s a collection of luxury daywear to eveningwear ensembles. You will see a lot of blues because I love blue. I’m already known for my whites, so I’m trying to show a play on prints, a play on cuts—you’ll see tailored pieces you can mix and match with other looks, some contemporary pieces, others more relaxed, and then up to the more formal end of the spectrum,” she reveals.
Her sleek and feminine yet straightforward designs are definitely a wonderful opening act to one of the most highly anticipated fashion shows of the year, and while she will still be making sure everything’s on point up until showtime, Rosenthal is also busy keeping the balance of her career in check. “Really keep going, that’s part of my not so plan—balance real work that’s coming in, show people what I can do without messing with the tip of the scale. God-willing, I get to do something abroad—I’m sending out my lookbooks to different places—I feel like I can grow more with exposure.”
With her design prowess, smarts, and character that are made for this industry, how can we doubt that she would?
Rosenthal's Holiday 2015 Collection (top) and Rosenthal on Mornings@ANC with Metro Editor-in-Chief Sarah Meier (bottom).
For the first time in Metrowear history, you can catch the show online and in real-time. Witness the opulent showcase of Maureen, Rosanna, Vania, Sassa, Charina, and Rosenthal's masterpieces live wherever you may be by logging on to lifestyle.abs-cbn.com/livestream/. Bookmark this link now!
Lead photograph by Gee Plamenco, courtesy of Metro Magazine
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