Rosa Clara: Empowering women through bridal gowns
Made-to-order gowns have dominated the Philippine wedding scene for decades.
A substantial amount of time is spent choosing the immaculate gown to walk down the aisle on. Selecting who will design and make the gown is a very serious matter – it can be a walk in the park or a gamble you’ll be fretting on. There have been, of course, both happy endings and horror stories that surround this whole ordeal.
Fortunately, brides have other options in this modern age. Ready-to-wear gowns provide brides with a glimpse of how they will look on their wedding day.
Rosa Clara began in 1995 in Barcelona, Spain. Founded by Señora Rosa Clara herself, the goal was to create and offer stylish and quality wedding gowns using only the best possible fabrics. To date, the brand has successfully expanded to 150 shops, while dressing countless brides and celebrities all over the world.
With up to 4,000 styles, highlighted in 10 – 12 collections per year, the brand constantly strives to be in the forefront of bridal fashion.
Locally, the brand first opened its store in 2011 at the Greenbelt Residences in Makati. Its second shop is housed in S Maison in Pasay City.
For the first time, Señora Rosa Clara recently visited the Philippines with her husband, Señor Josep Artigas. She spoke little to no English at all. During the private lunch, her aura was quite radiant – candidly answering all questions with the help of the interpreter, while pleasantly smiling to everyone around her.
In the course of the conversation, she shared that it has happened more than once that some brides were not happy with the gown that was made for them and rushed to Rosa Clara to choose what they want overnight.
Señora Rosa Clara believes that today’s brides want gowns that do not transform them but make them confident in their choice, and perfect in their own way.
While she stresses that their bridal collection has always been important, the latest formal and cocktail collection are also something to look forward to. With new fabrics and beadworks, the pieces are best described as simple and minimalist. The collection opens a range of selection for ladies attending dressy functions.
In many ways, the brand and founder has empowered women to choose what they want. As a designer and businesswoman, Señora Rosa Clara has made an impact not just in bridal wear, but also in fashion retail. I spoke to her with the help of an interpreter about style, business, and life and she openly shared her insights to me.
Question: What were your initial thoughts when you were offered to open in the Philippines?
Rosa Clara (RC): I’ll be very honest; I had no idea what I was going to see. But, I was lucky to meet these wonderful franchise holders and they were so good that I said, “Let’s give it a try.” These women are so entrepreneurial and it’s worth the while. The rest is history. We’ve already been able to dress brides from all around the Philippines.
Q: How do you describe the Filipina bride?
RC: I hear many Filipinos get married in the beach or have beach weddings. That already defines character and the products. They’re looking for a particular kind of fabric and less voluminous (in shape) because it has to be more comfortable for the bride.
Other than that, they resemble very much any other European bride. Maybe the age changes. Girls get married around their 30's in Europe but here (in the Philippines) it’s a little earlier. I think they are all global brides; they handle so much information that it’s hard to set a difference between one country to another. They are exposed to the Internet having the same amount of information.
Q: How do you keep up with changing trends in fashion, especially in bridal wear?
RC: Very interesting question… It’s very fast but I think that the more important thing is that we are a trendsetter. We are always there and we have the most copied designs in the world so we have to be innovative – it just keeps us on our toes. We are always one step ahead.
Q: What inspires you?
RC: Anything! Sometimes I see a neckline and I get driven by it. When I see the collections of great designers, they are source of inspirations as well. But what I always tell my team is that inspiration is not brought by divine forces. It’s hard work and everyday discipline. When you work, inspiration comes in. It’s very hard to get inspiration if you don’t work.
Q: Everything is going online now. Shopping is done online. How do you adapt to the change in the retail environment?
RC: I understand that change is coming very fast and everything seems to be purchased in a click. But, I think our product is very different. When we have a franchise, we equip them with all the range of products and certain skills.
Anybody can choose jeans or blazers. That doesn’t mean too much and you can click (buy it online) then use it. However, the process and deliberation to choose a wedding gown is different. You will need to be surrounded by professionals who can guide you every step of the way to get what you really want. That’s why it will never be online; it is a personal relationship.
Secondly, social media networks and online has allowed us to broadcast our company, to make it known to the world. But as far as the selling process, we want to keep the experience and not be online.
Q: What is your advice to young designers who want to be successful?
RC: Do real clothes that women can wear. It’s a wonderful thing to see a fashion show but it’s far more rewarding to see someone in the street wearing your clothes.
That is the big challenge of designers. They do incredible things, and so creatively, but will you really wear that?
Aside from being designers, they have to be entrepreneurs. Because as good as a product and designer is, it’s a business organization that you have to run. That’s what you have to learn.
Q: Rosa Clara as a person, with the global success that you have achieved, what are the most important things in your life?
RC: First and foremost is a wonderful son who has decided on his own to continue the business. It was his choice and he was never told to do so.
Another thing I treasure is to have time for myself when I can disconnect and spend time with my husband. For example, we’re going to Amanpulo and that’s it. We’re there, the whole world stops, and I’m just in an island with the man I love (Señora Rosa Clara flew to Amanpulo a day after this interview was done).
Every single day I give more premium to life. Live. Because maybe in the course of my life, there are things I was not able to do which I wanted to. In life, when you say yes to something, you say no to many things. You give up many things and that what makes you think of what you have given up to get what you want.
Q: You travel a lot with the many shops around the globe. Has the Philippines become a favorite country of yours?
RC: I cannot include the Philippines yet since I’ve just arrived but I’m convinced that before I leave, it’s going to be among those top choices. I’m sure.
Q: Are you the type who likes the cold or hot weather?
RC: The sun, anytime! Sunlight always. I love the sun.