The young designer’s path to success has been marked by her ability to adapt and change
It was actually a school project in college (she was a Management Economics major at Ateneo de Manila University) that spurred Rosenthal Tee’s desire to pursue a more creative track. “Serendipitously, my cousin was moving to London after graduation,” she says.
“I didn’t know if I was going to be allowed, but I said I’d love to go and take a few short courses.” Those “short courses’’ morphed into a two-year master’s degree program at Instituto Marangoni, the prestigious design school.
Back for Good
Unfortunately, the UK recession hit just as Tee was finishing up and companies halted visa sponsorships. In fact, she was almost hired by a renowned fashion house. “My sad story is I got in Alexander McQueen, in the embroidery department,” she recalls, but the job offer was revoked after she disclosed her work permit situation. “I was so gutted by it. I had to go back home.”
Still, her two years in London were transformative, calcifying her cultural identity—one she would later build on as part of her design DNA. She says, “London makes you hyper-aware of where you come from and who you are culturally, so that’s what I’ve tried to bring to the table.” She also appreciated the language more, adding, “I talked more in Filipino when I left the country!”
Back in Manila, her first few clients were her grandmother’s friends and because they were used to custom-made pieces, she initially found their “super straight feedback” difficult to hear. “Coming from the UK, you think it’s all about creativity,’” she shares. Compromise, she learned, was key to earning their trust.
“Younger designers ask me, ‘How much do you need to bend?’ I tell them, ‘Bend all the way!’” she exclaims. “Because the work would speak for itself. Then you get more leverage to push for your idea.” Now, her favorite words are “bahala ka na.” “They leave it up to me now, they don’t even need to see the design.”
Live in your very own color! Try imagining what this sketch would look like in your artistry. Paint the town your way!
Photography: JERICK SANCHEZ
Text: ALYSSA LAPID
Creative Direction & Illustration: JANN PASCUA
Art Direction: NICOLE ALMERO
Fashion Direction: JEB FRONDA
Styling: LYN ALUMNO (for Vania), JEB FRONDA (for Rosenthal and Patty)
Beauty Direction: TRINA EPILEPSIA BOUTAIN
Makeup: XENG ZULUETA (for Vania), PONG NIU (for Rosenthal and Patty)
Hair: MONG AMADO (for Vania), JAN EDROSOLAN (for Rosenthal and Patty)
Sittings Editor: PEEWEE REYES-ISIDRO