Rafé New York’s lat­est minaudiere col­lec­tion.

RAFÉ NEW YORK’S CLEVER MINAUDIERES ARE THE FRUIT OF MEM­ORY, IN­SPI­RA­TION, AND NA­TURE.

Town & Country (Philippines) - - T & C - By Clif­ford Olan­day

it was the french jew­el­ers van cleef and ar­pels who first in­tro­duced the minaudiere, a fancy evening clutch whose main char­ac­ter­is­tics are that it usu­ally ap­pears as a geo­met­ric fan­ta­sia and, more im­por­tantly, is car­ried by hand, with­out the use of a strap. a tra­di­tional shoul­der bag or your vo­lu­mi­nous satchel might ruin the lines of a slinky col­umn or a full-on princess gown, whereas a hand-held minaudiere main­tains the in­tegrity of a dress’ de­sign and al­lows it to shine.

so even if your minaudiere were to present an em­broi­dered scene of a pink flamingo amid a trop­i­cal habi­tat of blue skies and lush flow­ers, it would still be a sen­si­ble match to a flower-cov­ered tracy Reese num­ber. The bag held in hand is a high­light, a punc­tu­a­tion to the state­ment-mak­ing out­fit.

such vivid cre­ations are made by the New York-based filipino de­signer Rafe totengco, who, stay­ing true to tra­di­tion, con­tin­ues to make clutches that evoke fan­cies, whether it is a face of a jun­gle tiger ren­dered in mother-of-pearl shell, or a Rem kool­haas-de­signed build­ing made in minia­ture.

This sea­son, he puts to­gether a vi­sion from a pas­tiche of fa­vorite things. “spring/sum­mer ’18 was a me­lange of im­ages from slim aaron’s book, A Place in the Sun, Yves saint lau­rent’s muse loulou de la falaise, a fau­vist paint­ing by an­dre de­rain ti­tled Madame Matisse au Ki­mono, vic­tor vasarely’s geo­met­ric art, and a re­cent trip to hol­box in mex­ico to see the flamin­gos in their nat­u­ral habi­tat,” he says.

and how the many and seem­ingly dis­parate ref­er­ences be­come united un­der one col­lec­tion would be the magic of totengco. in­spi­ra­tion is cen­tral to the de­signer, who looks for it al­ways (“There is no start and end”) and, hav­ing been in the fash­ion in­dus­try for more than two decades, knows how to par­lay it into some­thing that works. “if i can view my col­lec­tion with a few glances and be able to know what it’s all about then i’ve suc­ceeded,” he says. “Th­ese days you only have a few se­conds to catch some­one’s at­ten­tion so it should be im­pact­ful and mem­o­rable.”

cer­tainly, a blue-, pink-, or or­ange­plumed bird is eye-catch­ing as well as the per­fect mes­sen­ger for what totengco wants to ex­press: the joy of the sun and the fun and play that come with it. “i chose a flamingo, a cock­a­too, and a macaw be­cause vis­ually they

“BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BE­HOLDER, SO IF PEO­PLE SEE A FILIPINO MO­TIF IN MY DE­SIGNS, I HAVE NO IS­SUE WITH THAT. IT’S ALL OPEN FOR IN­TER­PRE­TA­TION.”

im­me­di­ately trans­port you to a trop­i­cal paradise,” he ex­plains. “i’ve al­ways loved trop­i­cal birds. i used to have a green par­rot grow­ing up, and he was such a smart and funny crea­ture with tons of per­son­al­ity.”

Thread­ing to­gether the story of spring and sum­mer, the re­turn of life, is re­ally “sec­ond na­ture for me due to my up­bring­ing in the trop­ics,” says Totengco. The de­signer is fa­mil­iar with the won­der­ful warm el­e­ments that sig­nal the sea­son such as straw, shell, and snake­skin, all things he loves work­ing with and ma­te­ri­als that can be found in the Philip­pines; how­ever, Totengco stresses, he doesn’t “con­sciously in­ject a filipino mo­tif in my work.” nev­er­the­less, it is present in the home­spun tex­tures and is­land spirit that some of the bags evoke (one em­broi­dered flower looks very much like the gu­mamela). “Beauty is in the eye of the be­holder, so if peo­ple see a filipino mo­tif in my de­signs i have no is­sue with that. it’s all open for in­ter­pre­ta­tion. i sup­pose it’s un­avoid­able, be­cause what i do comes from my heart and i’m proud of my her­itage,” he says.

Hav­ing said that, the minaudieres of rafé new York are most cer­tainly global and, well, so­cial, too. in th­ese days of so­cial me­dia, Totengco does not have to imag­ine what kind of woman car­ries his hand­crafted bags. “She tags me on in­sta­gram: where she is and what she’s wear­ing. it’s amaz­ing, and it val­i­dates that i’m do­ing some­thing that she loves and wears!” he says. “i’ve seen my minaudieres worn with jeans and a leather jacket, a sum­mer dress, and an evening gown. it re­ally de­pends on the woman’s per­sonal style.”

and isn’t that the goal: to have your mag­i­cal cre­ations, wo­ven from mem­o­ries and made from the har­vest of na­ture, used in the real world. Cre­ation does not ex­ist in a vac­uum. a paint­ing needs to be seen, a gourmet dish con­sumed, and a minaudiere clasped by the hand on some won­der­ful night in or­der to truly ex­ist. rafé new york is avail­able at rus­tan’s.

t&c

SuNNy AMALGAM So­phie Sumner mod­els pieces from Rafé New york’s new, trop­i­cal-in­spired col­lec­tion.

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