Rocky Gathercole’s avant-garde allure: Gold standard

Creating controversy, breaking taboo, Gathercole’s designs at New York Fashion Week. Photos by Boyet Loverita

Creating controversy, breaking taboo, Gathercole’s designs at New York Fashion Week. Photos by Boyet Loverita

By Lindy Rosales

The Angel Orensanz Foundation Museum in the Lower East Side was packed, the crowd that had gathered for New York Fashion Week was hip and mostly young.

Rocky Gathercole, at one time a Dubai-based designer, was the last show for the night. His striking collection of apparel and accessories in soft to shimmering shades of gold was a fitting end to a day brimming with all sorts of fashion styles and themes. Gold is always impactful and memorable.

His was also the most applauded for the night. His bold collection of military regalia-inspired wings, plumes and plates dazzled, but they’re not for the average patron. I’m guessing a Type A woman (how about ambitious, aggressive?) won’t be shy about draping herself in a Gathercole creation. It certainly was not meant for some who were watching that evening.

Gathercole, who has spent 20 years designing clothing for Middle Eastern women, continues to operate a shop in the Philippines although he is now based in Los Angeles. He is still at it, creating controversial outfits — and “breaking taboos” he tells Metrovelvet magazine – wherever in the world there is a fashion show worth his time and talent.

It’s his third time at the NYFW. Before NYC, his collection has traveled to Miami and various fashion capitals. He is known to have dressed up celebrities known for their flagrantly flamboyant tastes, such as Paris Hilton, Lady Gaga, and Nicki Minaj. His designs have been called “schizophrenic;” it was meant as a compliment.

An only child – he tells celebrity columnist Ricky Lo his father is an American but Filipino by birth – Gathercole did not finish high school but has the gift of drawing and sketching. He had a somewhat troubled past growing up and is estranged from his mother.

A designer, who became a friend, invited him to try working in the Middle East where he might find a niche for his sketching skill. He made a name very quickly with the elegant and flashy gowns he designed for Arab women.

Gathercole met with the press after his Fashion Week show.

Where do you get your inspiration?
I don’t have any inspiration. I design according to my mood. I guess I got inspired by my 50th year, so I’m enjoying it with my gold collection. This is my third time in New York, but this is the best one. I love NY, the best city in the world.

How does it feel to be part of Fashion Week?
I’m really overwhelmed. I love the place.

Any advice to Filipinos who may want to join the industry?
Be original, don’t copy and paste.

Where are you based right now?
I am based in L.A. right now. I’m opening a shop in New York and Las Vegas, and hopefully in Beijing. And I’m talking to someone about Canada.

Do you consider yourself a fashion rebel?
Not necessarily a fashion rebel. I’m more of an avant-garde designer. I love things original, everything original.

There is a certain reserved and steady temperament to Gathercole. He came across as humble yet straight to the point.

“Fabulous,” proclaimed New York makeup artist Victor Palmos of Gathercole’s collection.

Gathercole’s designs are truly avant-garde and still evolving.

The Golden Boy and his collection

The Golden Boy and his collection

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