BENCH’s The Naked Truth!

Once every two years one of the most anticipated and anxiously awaited event occurs.  This is the BENCH denim and underwear show!  The brain child of one of my people I deeply respect and admire Mr. Ben Chan.  Every time he does this show I feel like Christmas came early.   This was the show that everyone wants to see and I mean everyone including my mother!  LOL!

I was so fortunate to have been invited to the show and I wanted to share with you my experience.  Every time this show happens  it’s always something bigger, better and more outstanding then the last.  This year was even more special as BENCH invited an international crew to do the show.  From the moment I walked in the MOA ARENA I was impressed wight the stage.  The circular stage would really beneficial to the  audience as this would give everyone a better view.

The lighting designer was also flown in from the US and I heard that he is the same one who does the lighting design for the American Idol show!  The performers also were flown in all the way from Canada and this really added a different dimension to the entire production.

I also noticed that the models they had were really a breed apart as  BENCH scouted and casted international runway models from all over the world!  Making this year’s show feel really global and international.  Not to be outdone where the Philippine Models and Endorsers who I could only imagine prepared for several weeks for this show.  The many hours of gym training and the dieting really paid off as most of the celebrities really looked ripped and amazing.

I for one had a great time.  It was a show that balanced fashion and entertainment on a spectacle that only BENCH can produce. The fact that they moved the date for the following day as the weather was extremely bad shows how compassionate and understanding Mr. Ben Chan is.  I just want to personally congratulate BENCH and everyone behind this amazing company.  MABUHAY KAYONG LAHAT!

Now take a look at the photos and enjoy!

So grateful that I was able to get invitations to the show. Thank you so much Ben Chan for this!

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The Roberto Chabet – Tribute Exhibition!

As a lover and supporter of the art I have had the honour and the pleasure of being introduced to many artists and have witnessed the impact and influence these artists have in our society.  One such artist that has had a tremendous effect in the Philippine Contemporary art world has got to be Roberto Chabet.

His recent demise really created a dent in the hearts of his students, followers and fans. So I was so happy to hear about a very special tribute that his “children” gathered together to pay tribute to this great man.  It was such an amazing experience as you could really feel the love and passion of all these amazing artists at the CCP.

I thought it was such a blessing to have been able to experience this kind of tribute as Roberto Chabet has truly left his legacy through all those that he has touched.  I strongly urge all of you to visit the CCP and catch this very special and beautiful show as in many ways I think it will open your mind to the state of where Philippine contemporary art is now.

For more information on the exhibition and many more exciting cultural events click this link, http://culturalcenter.gov.ph.  Get out there and be inspired!

My art partner in crime Malu Gamboa and I had a photo shoot at the CCP that day. Here she is looking amazing in my new collection called "De Chine"

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BTS Holiday 2014 De Chine – Look book shoot

With each collection we do comes a very special photo shoot.  This is where the vision becomes more tangible and where all the ideas comes into fruition.  The saying that it takes a village to create fashion is so true with this part of the fashion process.  There are so many hands involved all going toward to the same direction that often it becomes extremely exhausting.  However with the fatigue is overcome with each beautiful image we have achieved.  The final images will all be posted on my website at www.rajolaurel.com  However I would like to share with all of you some of the “Behind The Scene” photos from the shoot.

I have to say that after so many years in the industry I still get very nervous & anxious with each step.  Although I have complete faith in my team there is still the feeling of having butterflies in my stomach. LOL!  Do take a peek into what happens behind the glossy images of our “De Chine” look book shoot.

A huge heap of thanks to Arnel Papa for lending me his amazing pieces! You are truly an artist!

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IPPUDO is now in MANILA!

I am a RAMEN Fanatic!  I love it!  I consider RAMEN one of my comfort foods.  It takes me back to childhood where my Grandfather Lolo Pepe who was the Ambassador to Japan for many years introduced me to RAMEN.  It was a bond that would be cemented by broth and solidified by the perfect noodle.

Japan would be my special place where I learned to appreciate and love the culture.  So much so that it has been such a high influence in my aesthetic and work.  Today the RAMEN craze is HUGE in Manila and one of the biggest names and players of RAMEN has descended in Manila!

IPPUDO is a name that sends chills to the bone for RAMEN lovers like myself, thoughts of trips to Tokyo just to experience IPPUDO comes to mind. When I heard that it was coming to Manila I was so excited and even more when I was invited to one of its special tasting events.

My friend Raymond Guttierez invited me to join him to celebrate IPPUDO’s coming to Manila. We were all required to wear Kimono’s and something Japanese inspired.  The best of which would be given by access travel a trip to TOKYO!  How exciting was that?

Everyone came prepared and I loved looking at all the various costumes that the guests came in. The winners of the trip to Tokyo were Andre Chang and Ash Rye both looked very Japanese and very fierce indeed.  However for me the real winner was everyone who came to enjoy the food at IPPUDO as everything was really delicious!  I had the Karaka-Men RAMEN which was on the spicy side , I loved it!  Before the main course I enjoyed the bevy of savoury starters like the Pork Buns and the GYOZA but most memorable were the crunch cucumber dish that was just spectacular!

If you’re a RAMEN lover like myself then head on IPPUDO at the MEGA fashion hall of the MEGA MALL it’s on the 3rd floor.  It will be certainly worth the trip!

Let the RAMEN GAMES begin!

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“DE CHINE”- renovation!

Here we go again!  With each season we transform our space to suit the mood of the collection that we are presenting.  In a few days we will be launching our Holiday 2014 collection entitled “DE CHINE”!  I wanted something that fun, dramatic and a space that would make the clothes pop.  I said wouldn’t  HOT PINK walls be amazing and fun?  So we chose the perfect shade of pink and started colouring our walls to get ready for the festive season.  After all it’s already the “Ber” months and Christmas will be in the air in a few weeks.  LOL!

The images are just a few teasers of what we are doing but I just want to share with all of you the efforts that me and my team go through to ensure that our clients will have a really special retail experience.  It’s crazy but I know that it all pays off as you immediately get into the mindset that we are all in.

I also love the lantern installations which is very Chinese but we layered them to make it look a bit modern.  Will update all of you once we’re all done. In the meantime I am just loving the happy final colour that we chose.

Loving our new hot pink walls.

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My 8th Star Magic Ball- experience

I have had the pleasure of dressing up some of the biggest names in the Philippine entertainment industry via the Star Magic Ball!  The brain child of one of my dearest friends Keren Pascual.  From day one I was fortunate enough to have been able to dress the most beautiful women in our land.

This year was very special as I was tasked to dress up some of my very personal favourites in the industry.  First was my dear cousin Denise Laurel who I am extremely proud of.  I wanted to do something sleek, simple and severe. We opted to create a gown in a platinum almost gun metal grey stretch Charmeause which we cut into a deep plunging neckline.  I then added a crystal suspension chord which echoed the detail action on the back.  I love how the dress turned out because it was simple but interesting at the same time.  The line of the dress also made Denise look taller and accented her killer curves.

The second dress was for Julia Barretto.  I have been a huge admirer of this young lady’s beauty for quite some time now and when Liz asked me to dress her up, I jumped at the opportunity!  Again I wanted something very simple.  I have always believed that the dress should be worn by the woman and not the other way around.

I wanted to use this Dove grey  bonded foam material which made the dress move and look extremely modern.  Liz told me that Julia wanted to shine. So, I thought what better way to do shine than in Swarovski crystals.  These crystals really capture the light.  I was so thrilled beyond belief that Julia ended up winning the best dressed award that night.  A testament to my team’s talent and skill.  I am so proud of my team as we all work so hard to make all these beautiful creations and the recognition that evening was something I will share with everyone in my staff.

Finally I got another chance to dress up Mrs. Tootsy Angara who is one of my favourite clients.  I love her innate style and kindness. It is always such a joy to work with her because she embodies this energy of modernity yet she is very modest and practical at the same time.

I loved what we came up with which was a not to the mid-century vibe but still looked very modern and timeless at the same time.  I just wanted to share with you some images from our process and what the final results look like.  To everyone in my team BRAVO!!!!!  You all deserve the credit without you my dreams and visions would only remain as such.  It is by working together that we make all this a reality.

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Mecha Uma!

When I hear that Bruce Ricketts was going to open a restaurant  closer to Makati  I could not wipe the smile off my face.  Bruce is in my book one of the most talented Filipino chefs that I have ever met in a really long time.

I first met him when he was the chef in now the defunct ROBOT.  I remember having a conversation with him then and I felt that he had this amazing passion for food and for cooking.  I also felt that his talents were not being fully realised where he was.  Fast forward to a couple of months later when I trekked all the way to BF homes Paranaque  where he held his own court in Sensei Sushi.  That little hole in the wall provided one of my most memorable meals in my life!  I loved his food and his intriguing flavour profile that I had to come back for more.

Sadly due to my fear of traffic and because I am too lazy to head to the south for a meal, I was not able to frequent Bruce’s sensei sushi as much as I would have wanted.  However this has changed!  He opened Mecha Uma which roughly translates to a beautiful mess at the Fort.

The restaurant only sits 27 clients so reservations are truly required.  The warm copper interiors with the dramatic grid like ceiling was clearly designed by Jorge Yulo as this is so reflective of his cocoon like style.  I was so excited to try Bruce’s food that I even dressed up for the occasion.  Bow tie and all!  LOL!

The menu was simple and very easy to navigate it had a four step process where you begin with a starter then a second course a main and dessert.  There is also a separate specials menu if you want to add more to your meal.

My gang had a great time experiencing Bruce’s unique food and I will let the photos speak for itself.  If you are a food lover than I suggest that you head over to Mecha Uma and prepare for a really special experience.  I for one found it really wonderful!  To everyone at Mecha Uma!  Congratulations and BRAVO!  I cannot wait to come back.

My gorgeous date that evening!

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POT LUCK- CHIC!

I have been to several pot-luck dinners in my time but  leave it to my friends to turn the most mundane little dinner into something incredibly gorgeous. My friends Noel and Rita will be leaving Manila for NYC and Paris for a while and my friend Junie decided to get us all together for dinner before they leave.

We were assigned specific things to bring.  For instance I was tasked to bring in dessert while the rest had starters, appetisers, viands and what not.  We all brought our “pot luck” offerings and at first there was no rhyme nor reason for the food and then all of a sudden Junie whipped up his styling wand and his creative genius made complete sense of everything.  I have never seen Max fried chicken look so elegant or Pancit palabok so magazine ready.  LOL!

Whenever I get invited to what I call “The house of curiosities”  I always make it a point to go as there is always something new and to leave me breathlessly inspired.  This visit made me salivate over something so simple as the toothpick.  The  cocktail toothpick they used were in the form of happy buddhas that were completely adorable.

It was such a lovely evening filled with good friends and loads of laughter and cheer.  I really feel so blessed to be always surrounded by creative people with the most beautiful souls.  See you soon Noel and Rita and my your journeys lead you back home happy and inspired!

I love this tableau!

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RAMBLA – DEGUSTACION

The dining landscape in the country is really having a renaissance. It has been so exciting that I reckon we don’t have to travel abroad to eat sublime meals that are truly inspired. I recently had one of the most exquisite dining experience in the country  when I had the fortune to be invited to RAMBLA and tasted their new creations for their restaurant.

They created a fabulist tasting menu which was expertly paired with cocktails created specially for the evening.  The degustacion dinner was really exciting as I found the approach to the food fresh, young, bold and full of adventure.

I am not sure if all of the cocktails and the food that I tasted will end up in the new menu but I just want to share with all of you my experience and I suggest that if you have not tried RAMBLA yet head on over to The JOYA in Rockwell Makati and be prepared to have a great time.

The food profile of the degustacion menu had its roots in Spanish but to be honest it was more global in its approach.  It felt such a privilege to experience the energy and the passion of the men that own RAMBLA!  Congratulations to everyone in the team the evening was a real winner and I sincerely cannot wait to  be back!  Do take a look at the photos and I must warn you all as this post will make you very hungry!  LOL!

The RAMBLA boys prepared a virtual extravaganza of gustatory delights. Just reading the menu made my heart palpitate.

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Shervy & Leo’s wedding

I always say that I have the best job in the entire world!  I am part of people’s very special memories and for this I will always be eternally grateful. I have had the fortune of designing for my friends Shervy & Leo’s wedding.

From the onset I felt the faith and the trust that the bride and groom had with me and this feeling is so important as you can really do your very best and make them happy.  Shervy wanted her dress to be quite form fitted and to have lots of textures and crystals.  I loved the idea of the skirt as it reminded me of waves undulating in the sea.  Her bodice was encrusted with Austrian crystals that danced as light would hit the stones.

The entourage wore various sages of Nectarines, Caramels and marigolds which immediately  captured the sunny disposition of this lovely couple.  The weather that day was simply gorgeous with the clearest of skies and the most beautiful cloud formations.  A real blessing indeed!  To Shervy and Leo my very best wishes!  May you have a long and happy married life and may God bless you with beautiful children.

A Vanity fair shot with the bride and her entourage.

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