Thursday, March 30, 2006

Rafe Totengco

Rafe Totengco's website writes about".... In 1989, Rafe left a successful business he started in Manila to pursue his dream of a career in fashion design. He moved to New York, enrolled in FIT, and supported himself as a design assistant.

In 1994, he produced his first accessories ­ belts and watchbands ­ for a SoHo boutique: they sold out instantly. When the shop asked him if he had bags to go with the items, he enthusiastically said 'yes'...even if he didn't have a single
bag to show for it. One year later, the first collection of Rafe New York handbags debuted at Bergdorf Goodman.

Since then, Rafe has become one of the most acclaimed of a new generation of New York designers. He's been recognized in his field with numerous honors.
His company now includes a freestanding store in New York, three in-store shops in Japan, and distribution at department stores and boutiques throughout the U.S.
About his unusual name: Rafe is short for Ramon Felix..."

Photos Courtesy of and

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Gigi, Guenet Fresenbet Azimach

In an article by Indrias Getachew and previously mentioned in Timbuktu Chronicles, it says that "...Several years ago I walked into the outlet store of one of the major leather garment manufacturers located off Debre Zeit Road looking to buy a leather jacket. As I searched through the racks for the right design I noticed something rather peculiar. All the jackets were labeled ‘Made in Korea’. Not one of the jackets had a ‘Made in Ethiopia’ tag.

"Aren’t these jackets made here?" I asked the sales assistant. "Certainly," she replied. "Then why the ‘Made in Korea’ label?" I inquired. She laughed then answered, "who would want to buy something labeled ‘Made in Ethiopia’?"

Things have changed, somewhat, since that visit. I have seen the ‘Made in Ethiopia’ label on various types of garments, both leather and otherwise. That encounter, however, has stuck with me. I recall feeling both sad and annoyed that leather jackets produced in Ethiopia had to have a fake label designating them the product of some alien country in order to sell in the world market. What a travesty. And what a terrible testament regarding the global perception of Ethiopia.

Our ‘Speaking of People’ personality this week is Guenet Fresenbet, an Ethiopian woman on a mission to change this inferior image in the area of textiles and fashion. On the evening of Friday, April 30, 1999, the Lalibela Grand Ballroom at the Sheraton Addis was the venue for the premiere collection of American trained and Ethiopia inspired fashion designer Guenet Fresenbet, or GIGI as she is popularly known. The models walked, strutted, turned, pouted, smiled and posed in the latest fashion sensations to come out of Addis Ababa.

The show featured ‘ecologically friendly’ spring and summer day wear. The playful and attractive, yet reassuringly simple designs were made from 100% traditional hand woven cotton fabrics (shemma), dipped in a variety of natural dying agents including tea, coffee, carrot and avocado. The outfits included thigh length loose fitting dresses in a variety of cuts and designs and hip-hugger bellbottoms with brassiere tops.

Some of the more refined pieces in the collection were made of traditional hand woven ‘tilet’, or jacquard fabric. The delicate material, traditionally used as the colorful trimming on white shemma dresses, was used to create a wide range of outfits including tank-tops and evening dresses. Describing her use of tilet material GIGI explained, "Ethiopian tilet is very common in different colors and patterns. In my collection I use a lot of solid Ethiopian tilet, or jacquard. I use the same colors with different patterns. Some of the styles [presented in the show] have solid colors and might look like some of the new fabrics that are coming out of Japan, but they are all 100% natural Ethiopian fabrics. All the woven fabrics were made by my shemanes (weavers)..."

Photos courtesy of

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Amanda Griffin

Showbiz Pinoy says"... The daughter of Tony Griffin, a British businessman, and Susana Ricardo, a stewardess from Cebu, Amanda spent her growing up years all over the world. She was raised in England, but completed her secondary education at the International School in Manila.It was during this time that she started modeling, albeit part time. For college, she opted to attend Bond University in Australia, where her family is based, finishing a degree in Business/Communication.

From there onwards, life was going full-steam ahead for this hardworking gal. Amanda went into modeling full-time, soon becoming a favorite for both magazine and ramp work. She even ventured into commercials and endorsements, which had billboards of her pretty face going up all over the metropolis.

Since she lived and breathed fashion, it semed but natural that when Amanda decided to go into business, she and friend Isabel Engwa would choose to distribute the high-end swimsuit brand Tabu and eventually open a swimwear boutique in Greenbelt.With her busy schedule as a model, she often finds herself attending to store-related matters until late in the evening. That's quite a lot to have on someone's plate at such a young age. On what it's like living her life, she says it's "really busy, just like everyone else. I can get really stressed out, but it's all good. I'm basically a happy person, so I try to rise above it all."

The last few months have seen Amanda add a couple more feathers in her career hat. She just joined Angel and Daphne as the newest host of the fashion magazine show, F, on ABS-CBN, covering the travel and food beat, two of the things she loves the most. "I get to travel around the Philippines, to places that I never thought I'd go. I love to discover." Being a certified food lovers, she finds that trying out different types of food makes her work more interesting; she counts Thai and Indian cuisine, plus Pinoy delicacies bibingka and suman among her favorites...."

Photos courtesy of Bembang Girls

Monday, March 27, 2006

Daria Werbowy

Polish-born Daria Werbowy has hit it big time in the Fashion modeling world after securing a lucrative contract with Lancôme worth $3 million.

Sarah Raper Larenaudie of Time Magazine says that "....a fashion model can quit waitressing when the magazine covers and runway gigs roll in, but modeling can never be a full-fledged career until the beauty companies call.

Associating a recognizable face with a product has been a winning formula for the beauty industry since Pond's signed society queens to plug Vanishing Cream in 1924, but finding the right girl is harder than one might think. "We are looking for women who communicate sincerity and true beauty" says Odile Roujol, deputy general manager of Lancôme International.

Werbowy, 22 was born in Warsaw. The family left Poland when Daria was 4 and moved to Mississauga, Ontario. She worked as an extra on TV and film projects in Toronto as a child, then dabbled in modelling while studying at a local arts high school. Her big brake came when Marc Jacobs sent her down his runway in 2003, and very quickly other designers, taken with her feline beauty and aqua eyes, hired her too..."

Photos by Marcio Madeira and Don Ashby and courtesy of

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Charo Ronquillo

The Manila Times writes "....Asked why she succeeded in the Ford Supermodel of the World Finals in New York in January, the 17-year-old stunner Charo Ronquillo could only say, “I was brave.” Courage was all she had during the search since every other candidate from the rest of the world was as pretty and svelte as she. She believed she could make it—and she did. Placing second runner-up overall, Charo Ronquillo now holds the highest honor ever attained by a Filipina—or by an Asian—in the Ford Supermodel of the World Search..."

This lady from Laguna, Philippines... was a favorite among the 39 models from different countries who competed and was referred to as the Asian morena version of the famous model, Kate Moss..."

"...Ronquillo is the first-ever Asian who won in the top three Ford Supermodel of the World title in the 25-year history of Ford Models Inc. (Group shot courtesy of Fashion Wire Daily/Grant Lamos IV) (Oliver Carnay)...."

Some excerpts quoted from

Photos Courtesy of

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Liz Lange

Ellen Tien writes"...Before Liz Lange pioneered the concept of chic maternity clothing half a dozen years ago, expectant mothers had a paucity of fashion choices. They could resemble either potato-fed Pilgrims or Mickey Rooney performing the title number in Sugar Babies. "In the old days, maternity lines were designed for the male stereotype of what a pregnant woman looked like," says Lange. "The clothes were clownishly huge."

Armed with three years' experience working for fashion designer Stephen DiGeronimo, Lange rented a room above a New York City restaurant and began peddling trimly cut $200 stretch-cotton shirts and $400 cashmere twin sets. Despite predictions that mothers-to-be would never spend so much for separates with a limited shelf life, orders poured in. "All the stores I approached said, 'No—there's no market for high-end maternity.' I couldn't stop thinking that if I could just show these clothes directly to my customer without a middleman, she would get it." The female intuition paid off. Today the $10 million business of Liz Lange includes three stores as well as licensed lines with Nike and Target. In the meantime, she has spawned a phalanx of imitators, with stores from Barneys New York to the Gap turning out their own maternity collections.

Her method of designing is based on the druthers system. "I'll take a jacket from my closet and think, I wish this had a looser fit or different pockets," she says. "My design inspiration comes from my own closet, my own thighs, my own life. It's business, but it's personal..."

Photo by Richard Drew Courtesy of Time Magazine

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Gemma Ward

Michelle Oreckln says "...Slight, Soft-Spoken and only 17, Gemma Ward has nevertheless demonstrated enough muscle to pull off what no other model has managed to acheive in the past 10 years: replacing Kate Moss as the face, and naked body, of the Calvin Klein Fragrance Obsession...."

Valerie Lawson says "...Two years ago Gemma Ward dressed each day in a navy skirt with either a polo top or blue and white checked shirt, her secondary college uniform. Today, she wears chiffon, lace, tulle, silk, fur, diamonds, leather, velvet, crocodile skin and satin.

In New York, Paris and Milan, she sways down the runway in that weird pony walk of today's models as she parades the clothes of Valentino, Oscar de la Renta, Versace, Balenciaga, Gucci and Marc Jacobs.

In double-page ads for Prada and Yves St Laurent, she gazes from the glossy pages of Vogue, Tatler and Harpers Bazaar, her mouth impossibly red and bee stung, her wide-set green eyes resembling a china doll's.

In two years, the suburban Australian schoolgirl has become one of the world's top models. British fashion photographer Nick Knight, who took the picture of her on today's A2 cover, says: "Gemma is one of the very, very few models who look as though they come from another dimension."

Vogue Australia editor-in-chief Kirstie Clements thinks that "Gemma's in a different stratosphere. She's got that extra thing, that inexplicable thing...."

Some excerpts quoted from Time Magazine

Photo Courtesy of Photo by Don Ashby and courtesy of

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Sun Goddess

Kenyan Fashion Week says "...Sun Goddess is a celebration and the preservation of the cultures we were born into. Our designs are greatly inspired by the original designs as worn by the people of South Africa in days gone by.

The appeal of our clothes also lies in the lovely and exciting design combinations of modern fabrics, embellishments, and a good dose of pure nostalgia. In fact when we sit down to design it is usually a trip that retells rich African folktales from childhood. So in the end our clothes not only celebrate where we come from but ultimately redefine where we are going. Sun Goddess is simply that appreciation for the past, a view toward intrigue and greatness to come.

Started by a husband and wife team (Thando & Vanya Mangaliso). They say they did not get into fashion for the sake of fashion. They were also seeking to make a positive contribution to the reconstruction of the South African identity. The burning ambition behind is to master the art of authentic indigenous design....

Photos Courtesy of Kenyan Fashion Week

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Emma Hill

Lisa McLaughlin says"...A British designer might seem an odd choice to be vice president of men's and women's accessories design at such a quintessentially American company as the Gap, but for Emma Hill, 34, it's been a longtime career goal. Ever since a trip to New York City as a teen, she had it in mind to return to the U.S. to work. "I was obsessed with very American styles like leg warmers," she says. After graduating from fashion school in London, Hill took a job at Burberry as an accessories designer.

Although she had originally planned to focus on clothing, not accessories, she thought that working for the international brand would give her a good jumping-off point from which to launch her move to New York. And along the way she discovered her talent for creating distinctive and original accessories. She moved on to become senior designer for accessories at Calvin Klein and then joined Marc Jacobs.

The Gap recruited her in 2002, and she immediately made a splash with her leather, denim and corduroy handbags. ''Gap is such an iconic brand, and it means so much to so many people,'' says Hill, explaining her move from high fashion to mass market. "Things don't have to be expensive to be beautiful." For inspiration she dove into the company's archives. "I took all the elements that you would normally find on a denim jacket or a pair of corduroys—the buttons, the zipper, the grommets—and used them to make a bag."

The spring line of bags, in bright pastels and floral prints, is based on belted trench coats, with adjustable straps. She also plans a line of enameled flower pins that can be sprinkled on the bags "like fridge magnets. I think it's important to be able to personalize things," she says, gesturing toward the fabric flowers and Hello Kittys strewn around her office. "Accessories are an emotional thing, about having fun. No woman really needs a new handbag. It's all about expressing yourself..."

Photo by Jason Schmidt and Courtesy of Time Magazine