To be totally honest, I almost didn’t open the e-mail that made this all possible. The “Invitation to NYFW” header looked like spam to me! With a lot of doubt in my mind I read through it, and it was a little unreal, to say the least. I was very pleased and extremely flattered—mortified, really—and I asked myself if I could do it and if I should say yes. What initially gave me anxiety was whether my team and I would have enough time to complete a strong collection to show and still finish off our really heavy “-ber” months workload. There were certainly days when I thought we wouldn’t be able to do it, but I lovingly pushed my team to their limit to get everything finished in the way that it should be before I flew out for the show.
Everything is insane in New York. Dealing with agencies, logistics, production, and everything in between—it can be a nightmare for some. I suppose it’s because I’m generally calm about how I work that I was able to pull it off without having to throw things around. Also, my team plays a big part in this success. I’ve asked my mom to come on board as my partner in my growing atelier to help me manage the different aspects of the house. She’s very good at keeping ship and I’m extremely lucky I had her around when I was literally starting to lose my mind over the weight of everything. She and my godmother came along for the trip, and having two very organized moms around made everything a smooth sailing experience.
Overall, the feedback was incredibly positive but I didn’t actually get to see anything on the runway during my show! Because of the backstage craziness, all I could think was, “these clothes better get on these girls right now!” So by the time I walked out for the finale, everything was just so surreal.
I’m proud to be a Filipino designer showing in New York, but it doesn’t change that I’m still definitely based in Manila. It’s all about reaching out to the world while still keeping it close to home. What my NYFW experience made me realize is that my work is definitely up to par with others and I know I can eventually set my label against other labels based in New York and elsewhere in the world. I suppose what’s next is to start working on my spring/summer 2017 collection.
Also, I’m excited to be coming back to show at NYFW again later this year. I may be young, but I know that I’m able to thrive and build a proper label that people all over the world will recognize—that’s always been my goal. After the Rosenthal Tee fall/winter 2016 show, I’m definitely taking key baby steps towards focusing my work towards New York.
I’m incredibly lucky that I’m at that point in my career where I’m able to say that it’s taken me to places I’ve only ever dreamed of realizing. I’ve always believed that if you love what you do and constantly work on improving it, then there won’t be any other way than to go but up. To all my fellow young designers who think the NYFW dream is too big, I say, hustle! I’m still in this process myself and as a professor at the SoFA Design Institute I’ve always been transparent with my students about the pains and gains of working in this industry. If you continuously keep your name out there and work on building a strong and well-made product, people will come to you and give value to the work you so love doing.
As told to Angela Manuel Go
To see Rosenthal’s photo diary of her NYFW experience, click through the slideshow above!