An Exclusive Look Into Rafe New York And Mestiza's Collaboration

Mutual admiration and close ties to their Filipino heritage brought these two brands together.

Based in New York, Rafe Totengco, Alessandra Perez-Rubio, and Louisa Rechter Takacs have recently collaborated to create Mestiza’s first two handbags. The two Filipino-owned brands merged Mestiza’s signature prints with one of Rafe’s best-selling styles.

“I have long admired Rafe since my early days in New York, when I dreamed of becoming a fashion designer. Ever since starting Mestiza I always knew I wanted to partner with him in some way. Especially since we are both so closely tied to our Filipino heritage and always reference it in our collections,” Alessandra says, as she tells Lifestyle Asia how the collaboration began.

READ ALSO: A Plethora Of Ingenuity: Filipino Designers Showcase Brilliance And Grandeur

Years after their first meeting at a Christmas party in 2016, Alessandra finally took the chance to send Rafe a message. “The rest is history,” she adds.

Rafe Totengco with Mestiza New York's Alessandra Perez-Rubio and Louisa Rechter Takacs
Rafe Totengco with Mestiza New York’s Alessandra Perez-Rubio and Louisa Rechter Takacs

Meanwhile, Rafe says that he has been keeping tabs on Alessandra’s clothing line ever since that brief meeting. Back in the Philippines, Rafe had worked with her older sister who modeled for his own clothing line. “When I received an email from her about the idea of collaborating it was a no brainer for me,” the designer comments.

A Joyful Collaboration

The designers had nothing but positive things to share about each other while talking about their experience during the collaboration. 

“Rafe is a true delight! He brings a great energy to the room with lots of smiles, a contagious laugh, and an endless supply of creativity. I think that this joy can be seen in the final product,” Louisa and Alessandra both say.

“It was effortless and such a joy,” Rafe shares. “In a lot of ways, we cater to the same woman. I knew I wanted to compliment their clothing in a way that would also highlight what I’m known for; feminine and timeless pieces with handcrafted details.”

The designers seamlessly blended their brands' styles
The designers seamlessly blended their brands’ styles

While brainstorming for the designs of the two handbags, each brand truly looked into what their respective customers loved. For Alessandra, it was their lemons and chinoiserie. “They have become so integral to the Mestiza brand over the years. It felt natural for us to put them at the forefront of this collaboration!”

One of Rafe’s best-selling styles, the Berna half moon clutch, serves as the backdrop for these designs. “This has been a mainstay in my collection every Spring/Summer season.”

Behind The Creative Process

After Alessandra had chosen her favorite prints, she sent them over to Rafe. He then used them as reference when designing the embroidery. “Because the embroidery is done by hand, they aren’t exactly like the prints but rather emulate them, which I much prefer,” Rafe shares.

“I think what makes these handbags so special to us both is the fact that they perfectly encapsulate the identity of both of our brands. When we first discussed what the bags would look like, we knew before anything else that it was about blending our signature styles,” Alessandra says.

Rafe x Mestiza's Lemon Clutch
The Lemon Clutch

“For Mestiza, it was about lending our chinoiserie flower and lemon branch to his iconic half moon clutch. It was the most seamless match. The hand done quality of the clutches is what makes each one feel like one of a kind and even more special.”

Promising Visions

In terms of brand promises, Rafe and Mestiza have similar goals. Both highlight quality, timeless designs, and creating pieces that let their customers shine.

“Mestiza New York offers heirloom quality apparel and accessories with a timeless and iconic sense of style,” Louisa shares. “We are committed to making women feel their best through optimistic design, purposeful brand initiatives within our community of women, and beyond.”

For Rafe New York, their handbags and clutches are designed for women who “like to stand out from the crowd, are confident in their style choices, appreciate handcrafted details, and love timeless design.”

The Chinoiserie Clutch by Rafe x Mestiza New York
The Chinoiserie Clutch

“Both brands are committed to ancestry, kinship, and timeless craft and style. The Mestiza x Rafe handbags deliver on all. Optimistic, well-crafted, happy little treasures with a nod to the past,” Louisa says, describing how the collection aligns with their brand promises.

“The pictures say it all! Just look at how the clutches and the clothes compliment each other so effortlessly,” Rafe adds.

“I absolutely adore them,” Louisa says, now that the final designs are complete. “They elevate any look and make exceptional gifts. I’ll be sporting mine all the time this spring and summer.”

“I’m over the moon with how the clutches turned out. Each design compliments their clothing so perfectly. This was a match made in tropical heaven,” Rafe concludes. The collection will soon be available this January 29 on Mestiza’s website.

Photos courtesy of Mestiza New York and Rafe New York.

Shop for LIFESTYLE ASIA’S magazines through these platforms.
Download LIFESTYLE ASIA’s digital magazines from:
Subscribe via [email protected]