Oct 4, 2010

The Creative Class: Filipino Designer Rhett Eala

WYD: Rhett Eala from WYD on Vimeo.

When we were kids, my cousin Rhett was always the one sketching couture models with long necks and  flowing dresses while the rest of the cousins played basketball or tumbang preso. During our annual family Christmas play, where all the kids performed some Disney play in front of the entire family, Rhett commissioned himself to the role of director or costume designer while he talked me into kissing my
 cousin for the Sleeping Beauty finale. In grade school, he had a knack for hot music trends before it became popular. We were dancing in the basement of his house to Sylvester's "Dance (disco heat)" and Donna Summer's "I love you" way before the songs made it to DJ set at CocoBanana, Where Else? and Star Gazer.  In grade 7, he and I managed our way into a Hong Kong disco one summer night acting as if we were regulars with our Shirley Temple's. 

Rhett was always ahead of the trends. He was wearing Halston and Fiorucci way before Sister Sledge popularized the brands. Luckily, I was always on the receiving end of his hand-me-downs. While our Ateneo classmates were wearing their Gregg shoes, we don our Gucci's to school. All this before high school.

Wearing my Collezione map shirt with Journey
lead singer, Arnel Pineda

So it comes to no surprise that Rhett has made a name for himself in the creative world. It is also no surprise that he was able to ignite one's patriotic pride through his fashion designs. He coined "fashionalism" and has transformed the map of the Philippines into a national icon beyond the textbook and Lonely Planet guidebooks. From the squatters along the Pasig river to the Forbes Park tycoon. From the street vendor selling Marlboro cigarettes to Manny Pacquiao. From the average Filipino abroad to the President of the country. We are all wearing his map shirt. In his own way, he has awakened the inner Filipino in all of us. 

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