By Ana de Villa Singson

Rosanna burst into the Philippine fashion scene in her mid-20’s…and took it by storm.  Eschewing anything basic, her lines are bold, vibrant, vivacious, much like Rosanna herself.  Arriving back in Manila after 5 years  of fashion design education in Milan’s Instituto Marangoni (it was supposed to be a year and a half…but she fell in love with Milan and stayed that much longer!), she was not just a habitue of the social scene, she dressed many of its most recognizable faces! Now a 15 year fashion veteran, she has launched  many raved about collections and collaborations.  She has been feted  as one of the metro’s most stylish women and featured as a fashion icon in countless magazines and TV networks.  Her eponymously named brand has an atelier near her home and a boutique in Rockwell.  Definitely not a traditional person, her fashion is a  little bit of rock and roll, a touch of whimsy, many dashes of color and her intrepid mix and match of fabrics and textures attest to her liberal unbridled inspirations and imaginations.

Who is Rosanna?  Ask her  and she will tell you that everything she is boils down to 2 things:  “I am a Tañada (her grandfather is Lorenzo Tañada, Filipino nationalist, lawyer, senator) and I am an Assumptionist. All the values, the Tañada values and Assumption values were all around me and trickled down.”  From the Tañadas she learned about simplicity and close, tightly  knit family values.  From Assumption, the traditions, the disciplines balanced her  creative side, grounded her and taught her to “be super organized, very punctual…functional to a tee.  But for me, the biggest takeaway from Assumption is my religion.  It was integrated through each subject, we prayed at the start of every class… enjoyed retreats together…At the end of the day, we are good people who care about outreach programs, the less fortunate. (If) you have more than others, (then) share, you have excess (then) give, but without being public about it, without letting others know about it.   It’s also super Tañada; but Tañada is so Assumption.”

Rosanna has many fond memories of Assumption.  Her favorite teacher,  Ms Mary Ann Eala, “was legendary.  She was the strictest and scariest, but when she spoke about Les Miserable and Shakespeare, she was so commanding and eloquent, we were all in awe and everyone wanted to be in her class.”  She loved her friends in hardcourt and was in the swimming varsity team. “ I was quite athletic!” She remembers about having to line up first before dismissal. “There was so much discipline that helped me (learn to) fix everything and be organized about planning things ahead of time.” But all throughout, she had only one plan, one lodestar.

At the young age of 13, Rosanna knew exactly who she wanted to be. She would accompany her mom, Milette Ocampo (onetime AAA President and one of the Assumptionists I truly look up to!) to Kamuning, the textile haven, and immerse herself in the feel, colors, stretch and drape of the fabrics.  She designed her own sophomore dress, retro junior prom dress and senior ball gown, all sewn up by a village modiste. Graduating from Assumption High School in 1998 ( she’s a Silver Jubilarian this year and is very excited to dance in Velada!) her creative and free spirit yearned for fashion education in the world’s fashion capitals.  But her father, a loving but strict disciplinarian, struck a bargain.  She should first take a traditional business course and if after 4 years she was still resolute, then she could pursue her fashion calling.  A nonconformist, she hated accounting and business subjects, “I was miserable, it’s really hard to do something you don’t want to do.  I was suffering from case study to case study.” But her resolve was strong; it was the only way to pursue her dream.  4 years later, she was off to Milan.

Italy was home.  “I was so hungry to learn everything because I was deprived.  I wanted to do this for college.  When I finally got to (fashion) school…independence!”  Rosanna studied Fashion Design and Masters in Fashion Marketing in Milan and Draping in Paris.  “It’s my Mecca.  It’s my stimulant!”  She worked in big name fashion houses, among them, Vera Wang.

In 2007, turning 27, she came home.  A “super extrovert”, she became the life of the party…every party!    And her self-made outfits made others take notice.  “I met so many people and that’s when I started designing again.” In 2008, Rosanna opened her fashion design business. She became known for “texture and color.  The people who come to me are not neutrals. More is more!  I’m not afraid to experiment!” 

Rosanna takes inspiration from her best friend, her mom.  “She is so consistent…her kindness, compassion, her pure goodness and grace!… My dad too. He passed away and I wish with all my heart that he was here. My mom was the heart.  My dad was the head, the amazing businessman and the comedian.”  She also draws much from her travels. “ I love traveling, I light up when traveling!  Travel is visual investment!”   Ibiza, Formentera, Mikonos, the coves, the flea markets, the night markets, music, food conjure visual designs for her seasonal collections! “I travel in July , it really inspires me, awakens me and by September, my collection is done!” Earning a plethora of accolades, which she humbly refused to name and which I diligently had to research, Rosanna is just “grateful that things that happened, happened the way they did.  I am grateful that I never changed my mind since I was 13.”

Married to Marco Rodriguez and mother of Alejandro and Alessia, she now prefers lunching with the girls and doesn’t do night outs as she used to.  “Contrary to what you see in pictures, I’m usually home at 8! The kids are growing up” and home is where her heart is.  “Motherhood changed me!” Her fashion, always a reflection of herself, changed too.  Her 2022 RTW line, the Cha Cha Collection, is made of very intricately designed tops. “ I put all my energy into one top and you can wear that statement top with jeans and it will take you through your whole day.” Nothing is basic.  Pearls, fringes, feathers, texture upon texture, color upon color, intricate stitching, scalloped edges, pattern upon pattern, each piece is invested with her artistry and attention to minute detail. 

To young Assumptionists, her sage advise is to “Follow your gut on what you want to do. Do what you love and everything after will follow through  seamlessly.” It’s not just cliché for Rosanna.  With her zest for life, irrepressible spirit, brave experimentation and joie de vivre, she’s living her childhood dream in big bright bold audacious and unapologetic technicolor!

From Rosanna’s RTW Collection

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