Rosanna Ocampo-Rodriguez: 15 Years of Fashion

Fashion designer and mom Rosanna Ocampo-Rodriguez celebrates with a throwback of the RO Girl’s fashionable 15 years.

“Sensual, flirty, and eternally optimistic” — when asked to describe what the RO girl is, that is what fashion designer Rosanna Ocampo-Rodriguez had in mind.

Her bespoke pieces attract those who are arguably so. As a fashion maximalist, Rosanna plays around with various textures and colors to “embrace the curves of every woman” and radiate positivity. One such fashion line that paid tribute to it was her 2016 to 2017 designer line. “It was called a Beauty Amidst Darkness,” she remembers fondly. “It was also my holiday line and for the ICanServe charity event! The line was very important for me because there was a women’s month thing and celebrated women fighting against breast cancer.”

But her ability to capture and transform raw emotions into delightful fashion pieces is one she attributes to her early days: the days when she would witness the Modista Generation get to work while having a supportive family that would expose her to that kind of life.

Rosanna Ocampo

Embracing fashion as her calling

Finding our passion doesn’t always come quickly, often forcing us into a journey of trial and error along with a lot of soul searching. But family does have a way of speeding up the process as Rosanna remembers that much of her exposure came from her mother who had brought her along to meet her modista. “So my parents belong to the modista generation. We used to live near New Manila and my mom would bring me with her to see her modista in Kamuning market when I was around 8 to 10 years old.”

From there, she observed how to choose fabrics and colors. By seventh grade, she was already creating her pieces. “It was around freshman and sophomore year that I was already making my own dresses. I would get the fabric of my choice and bring it to the modista. I was really lucky that I was able to play around at my disposal.”

But as a daughter of a supportive but still business-minded family, she had to negotiate to pursue her dreams. “My dad said I could only go to Milan if I took Business Management in college which was torture for me!” she admits while laughing.

Yet, she did it anyway. In fact, her latest line — Amore Mio — pays tribute to one of her core memories: her thirst and hunger to master the craft of creating bespoke pieces from fashion artisans in Milan, home of the semi-annual Milan Fashion Week. “It was really my home,” Rosanna intimates. “Not once did I feel homesick! I went to three schools, learned the language, and still found time to go back twice or thrice in a year. Every time I go there, it’s like an explosion of the senses: I always come back with so many ideas!”

But like all ideas, they transform, evolve, and grow along with their creator in becoming something more fitting for what Rosanna had in mind.

Rosanna Ocampo

Evolution of the RO Girl

Ever have those moments when you look into your closet and see a piece you’ve worn when you were much younger and now can’t imagine yourself wearing it? Sometimes, we try to alter it or find ways to match it to today’s trends. Yet, there’s a part of us that’s a bit sad when we look at those pieces that we once enjoyed wearing. The occurrence is not uncommon, however, as Rosanna Ocampo shares how her creative process also changed when she became a mom.

“When I returned from Milan, people would say that my skirts were shockingly short,” she snickers a little. “I was around 27 at the time and I’m really an extrovert: I like meeting new people; I like partying. So, every night, it was meeting new people and clients for the brand here and there. My mindset was on parties but” — she nods — “fast-forward, when I got married, and became a mom, those hemlines just got longer.”

However, Rosanna assures that it’s a natural occurrence, especially when she saw her designs become more “age appropriate” when transitioning from womanhood to motherhood. Discovering one’s fashion is a process and it takes time. “I have a lot of mom friends who feel the same way. Changing one’s fashion, I think, happens naturally when it calls to you. Some may be comfortable wearing crop tops while some are okay with wearing shorts. Every mom is different in that way.”

But being a mom, based on Rosanna’s designs, doesn’t mean letting go of the charm found in sensuality. Rather, it transforms and elevates them into embracing the phenomenon of being a woman. Although her designs remain slimming and hugging, she wants moms and women to remain flirty and sensual in a classy way whenever they own one of her designs.

Investing and elevating mom fashion

How does a mom still indulge with some playfulness in her wardrobe while maintaining the flexibility to deal with whatever her family needs her to fix? Sure, there are a few blouses from the fun party days that are worth keeping. But Rosanna Ocampo reveals three staple and timeless pieces she feels are worth investing in.

“Jeans. A really good pair of those,” Rosanna beams. “You have to have a pair of amazing skinny jeans and an amazing wide-leg one. I cannot stress it enough because you can always dress it up. In fact, it’s why we came up with our own jeans line last year! Most definitely also one of my timeless ones!”

Rosanna Ocampo

Besides a pair of comfy and stylish jeans, a black blazer and a white polo are a must for Rosanna Ocampo’s closet. “My black blazer is a quick pick-me-upper; mine has a little more edge with some satin trimmings, fringes, and whatever! Why? Well, it’s because it can dress up anything! Then for my polo, it’s not the usual classic either. There’s always something deconstructed about it but I have around 15 of them to match my skirts, shorts, and heels. It’s definitely something I’d wear for the daytime affairs.”

But staples aren’t always in the form of clothes. Some of them include a comfortable but stylish pair of nude heels. “I would definitely invest in a good pair of camel or nude-colored heels. 90% of my heels are either of the two colors because it elongates: it makes the body look longer.”

While all these pieces fall under both staple and timeless, there is one piece that is truly timeless and worth investing in. “I bought this a few years ago,” she gestures to a shimmering tennis necklace. “It’s a classic and something that I can pass to my daughter when she’s older.”

What’s next for the RO Mom?

Although moms and women can choose to celebrate their triumphs and style themselves in Rosanna’s bespoke pieces, only one little girl in the world gets to do so: Rosanna’s beloved daughter, affectionately known as her “mini-me”, eight-year-old Alessia. “She’s definitely spoiled there,” Rosanna laughs. “She always gets custom stuff done. There are times she looks at the latest collection and points out a piece she wants and we have it made.”

But her daughter doesn’t just receive one-of-a-kind pieces from her mom. Within each thread and design of RO are the experiences, virtues, and lessons that Rosanna inherited from her family. So, how does one teach that to their own children? Rosanna reveals that her father often “walked the talk” which is the same parenting strategy she’s doing for her kids. After all, she says, “Everything starts at home.”

“If it were lessons and virtues I learned from my family, one would be doing everything with excellence or nothing at all. That includes punctuality and consistency,” she admits. “I’m punctual to a fault; punctual to me is actually five minutes before the agreed time: not on time. For consistency, it was knowing that being consistent would get you places. That and taking risks — especially for younger fashion designers or creatives, take risks. Be spontaneous; it’ll get you to places.”

Photography KIM SANTOS
Shoot Coordination ANTHONY MENDOZA

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