Renegade. Radical. Avant-garde. Rocky Gathercole is a fierce proponent of this fashion aesthetic. A favorite of pop superstars and supermodels, he creates clothes that are outlandish yet stylish. All products of his “unexplainable mind”.
“When I was just starting, I loved watching movies and looking at the women’s outfits. There was one in particular, the costume of Alma Moreno in Bomba Star. It stuck in my mind even though I didn’t know who designed it. Then 30 years later, I met the designer, Tony Cajucom,” Gathercole related.
“The late Danilo Franco was my fave in the 1980s. I love Fanny Serrano for his creativity in photoshoots, like the ones with Lorna Tolentino. I also love Steve de Leon for his craftsmanship and originality. But my biggest influence is Thierry Mugler,” he added.
When he is about to do a collection, “I always depend on what new things I discover, such as fabric or metals, and from there I start creating my collection.”
Gathercole has a shop in Melrose Place (For The Stars Fashion House) in Los Angeles and he regularly joins shows at fashion weeks in the US. But for the first time in his homeland, he will do a full-length display of his astonishing talent at a fund-raising gala on August 12 at the Philippine International Convention Center.
The benefit show will celebrate 20 years of the Bantay-Bata 163, the go-to hotline to report child abuse, and a flagship program of the ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation Inc. that focuses on Filipino children.
This advocacy resonates with Gathercole, being a victim of child abuse himself. “Back in the day in the streets, mas madalas inaaliw ko na lang ang sarili ko. I’m the kind of person na kayang harapin ang realidad. Masakit ’yung wala kang mahingian man lang ng tulong o kahit makausap man lang na makikinig sa mga problema ko,” he shared. “That’s the reason I’m supporting Bantay-Bata—gusto kong makatulong o maging dahilan man lang ng pag-ngiti [ng mga bata] kahit isang araw lang. Sila talaga ang pinaka-malapit sa puso ko.”
It also helps that Gathercole admires Gina Lopez, the woman behind Bantay-Bata. “Meeting her in person was absolutely amazing. For me, she is the epitome of a woman and a mother, and her love for nature is amazing. Sobra talagang ina-admire ko s’ya in this era,” he gushed.
Gathercole has dressed Gwen Stefani, Thalia, Britney Spears, Carrie Underwood, Toni Braxton, Cara Delevingne, Mel B, Jennifer Lopez, Heidi Klum, Nicki Minaj, Paris Hilton and Tyra Banks.
“I love Sharon Cuneta, not only for her voice or her being an actress. I love what she has become as a person,” he added. “Of course, Barbra Streisand and her movie Yentl, where she showed her affection for her father she never sees. I wish one day I can dress Barbra Streisand.”
For his “Making of a Dream” gala, the finale muse will be ABS-CBN starlet Bea Alonzo. “I chose Bea first because she is an advocate for Bantay-Bata abroad. Then Ian Veneracion came in, because I had a lunch meeting with Charo Santos Concio about [my life story for Maalaala Mo Kaya], and I asked her about Bea as my finale. Then she told me if Bea would be my finale wearing a wedding dress, then Ian should be her groom, and I readily agreed that it was a nice idea! Besides, I’m a fan of their telenovela, A Love to Last.”
The show will be a recollection of Gathercole’s intriguing life.
“The opening will be crazy pieces of Ati-Atihan where anything goes, then the avant-garde, this unexplainable mind of mine, then comes the black and white/good and evil side of me, then the floral/my feminine side, then my fascination of the church, so to speak, then comes the Lamp that symbolizes the light of the world, and the finale with the bride with all the cherubins playing all around her dress,” he said.
Though hugely successful abroad, Gathercole never forgets to always give back. “When the ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation Inc. asked me about having a gala show for Bantay-Bata, there was no hesitation. I said yes, of course, anything that I can give back for the children, I will do it from my heart,” he added.
“All the fashion shows that I did abroad were so meaningful to me, but doing it in my own country—wow! I feel that I’m already made as a fashion designer.”
Image credits: Filbert Kung, Fredrik Lonnqvist and Lotta Lonnqvist, Roj Miguel
Hi, I believe you should correct erratum on mentioning Bea Alonzo as “ABS-CBN starlet”. Kindly revisit and correct. Thank you.