Rafe Totengco: I’ve had a passion for fashion since I was in elementary school in the Philippines. I was reading Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar while my classmates were busy playing with Japanese robots. You can say it was pre-destined. I moved to New York to pursue my dream, my American dream. I went to FIT to study fashion while working in the industry at the same time. When the opportunity presented itself, I grabbed it and never looked back.
BBJ: Where do you find inspiration? Is it a geographical location, an era, a movie, etc.?
I’m a sponge, I absorb everything. Travel is a huge source of inspiration, but books, movies, art, music, people and experiences can release creativity as well. They all manage to make their way into my subconscious and become part of my visual library. I was just in Bali on a seven-day adventure and went to off the beaten path locations; I’m so inspired by that trip.
BBJ: What is your favorite item you’ve ever designed?
RT: I love them all, are you kidding?! (wink) Fortunately I fall in love with something new every season. This season it’s the motorcycle bootie and my glazed leather hobo bag with zipper details inspired by the motorcycle jacket (pictured, above).
BBJ: What is most challenging about your job?
BBJ: How would you describe your design aesthetic?
BBJ: What are your favorite grooming products?
RT: I have a few staples: Borba, Cle de Peau crème and nighttime moisturizer, Malin & Goetz and Clarks Botanicals.
Thanks to Rafe for his inspiring answers! If you haven’t yet, you’ll see this style maven in the latest American Express commercials. He’s on the up and up, dolls. And don’t forget to check out Rafe‘s website, and his blogs www.canitellyou.rafe.com and www.rafeloves.rafe.com.
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