Pinoy handpicked by Rihanna for fashion contest

by Patrick Camara Ropeta, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at Aug 28 2012 10:05 AM | Updated as of Aug 28 2012 06:05 PM

LONDON - A UK-based Filipino designer is competing for the chance of a lifetime to dress international popstars for a fashion reality show, after being selected by Rihanna from thousands of hopefuls.

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Ralph (center) with other contestants at the Styled to Rock studio/Photo courtesy of Styled to Rock

Simply known as Ralph, the 25-year-old designer is showcasing his creative flair in Styled to Rock from Sky Living in the UK, a television search for the next big thing in fashion.

“It means everything to me. To get the chance to showcase my work and for the whole world to see it is the best possible opportunity that has ever been handed to me. The show has really helped define the direction of where I want to go with my career and its huge boost to get to work with big international music artists,” he told ABS-CBN News.

Ralph, a graduate of fashion design from University of Westminster, is battling it out against 11 other upcoming designers with different styles and backgrounds.

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The mentors: Stylist Lysa Cooper, designer Henry Holland, popstar Nicola Roberts/Photo courtesy of Styled To Rock

“Being part of the Styled to Rock family is so special. All of the other contestants were so different from each other and that made the whole journey even more special getting to know everyone’s talents and personalities. Even though we were all competing against each other, we all felt each other’s support and expectations to be the best that we can be and that made me want to compete even harder and perform better than ever, I don’t think I’ve been in a situation like that before, that’s why it made it so hard to see someone being sent home,” he said.

The lucky contestants were personally selected by international songstress Rihanna, who is also executive producer of the show, based on their creative merits against thousands of other applicants from across the country.

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Popstar Rihanna is executive producer of the show/Photo courtesy of Styled To Rock

“Being handpicked by Rihanna was amazing. Totally out of this world. I spent my whole life day dreaming of opportunities to showcase my talent and then Styled to Rock show, which is produced by Rihanna, comes along to make my dreams come true and that totally rocks. When I met her for the first time, going over my designs and my goals as a designer, it felt so great and she was very encouraging of my talent,” said Ralph, whose family hails from Umigan, Pangasinan in the Philippines.

The freelance designer, who runs his own independent label I AM RALPH, claims to have been inspired by designers like Kim Jones and JC/DC, to name a few.

Describing his signature style, he explained: “I would say my designs are very sporty and street wear related. I’ve been really inspired by the 2012 Olympic Games held here in London this year. I loved all the colorful uniforms of each country and knowing that the athletes performed at their very best due to what they were wearing, makes me feel proud to be a designer, so I take this in consideration when I’m designing. I like my style to be casual, relaxed and comfortable to wear. I would relate my designs to labels such as Nike, Lacoste Live, American Apparel and JC/DC.”

Born in the Philippines and raised in England from the age of seven, the Filipino designer feels a strong affinity to his heritage and is proud to wave the flag of his native country.

“I think it’s also important to say that I really want to use this chance to show case Philippines to its best light. Like Jessica Sanchez on American Idol this year, she showed everyone the amazing voice of her country. I want to prove that Philippines is a country of talented people, full of creativity, imagination and the desire to stand out and make proud of their home country,” he enthused.

The show is searching for a new designer with enough potential to carve a career in high fashion and be able to dress rockstars and film stars.

Each week, contestants are given a task to design for international musicians, including Scissor Sisters, Pixie Lott, Rizzle Kicks, Cheryl Cole and Katy Perry.

Rihanna chooses the winner for every challenge, alongside fashion industry mentors: designer Henry Holland, stylist Lysa Cooper, and popstar Nicola Roberts.

“Fashion and music go hand-in-hand. I’m looking for the fresh, new, trendsetting designer. We’re looking for the next superstar designer to dress superstars,” said Rihanna in the show.

Styled to Rock is on UK's Sky Living every Tuesday at 9pm.