Louisa Rechter and Alessandra Perez-Rubio Briggs, co-founders of MESTIZA
During the time I lived in Paris I would be often asked the question “Vous êtes de quelle origine?” It didn’t suffice to say that I was Filipina because they weren’t really asking where I came from or what nationality I was, but the French being so anthropologically aware and detail oriented, what they wanted to know was what my origins are. I would then have to explain that my grandfather was Spanish Basque and my mother had some chinese ancestry plus throw in a bit of Malay and mix it all together with a hearty dose of Filipino. “Mixe-mixe quoi?!” In the end I am pretty much like many Filipinos, a little bit of this and a little more of that resulting in faces that can range from the very European to the very Asian and the tropical.
Being a mestiza meant in Europe that I could pass for a number of exotic nationalities. I could have said I was Mexican, Italian, Colombian, Spanish, French-Vietnamese, Moroccan… I once had someone shout out “Ms. India” to me while walking on the street. I believe it’s this mystery of being from everywhere and nowhere, that look that people can’t seem to tell where you’re really from but it does imply somewhere warm, balmy and exciting – it’s this mystery that makes the modern day mestiza all the more alluring.
In this we find the inspiration behind MESTIZA, the recently launched fashion label of two New York based Filipinas – Alessandra Perez-Rubio Briggs and Louisa Rechter. The pair met in the Pi Beta Phi sorority at Washington University in St. Louis and had both moved to the Big Apple after college. “We were actually having drinks one day discussing about our pipe dreams and what we wanted to do with our lives,” explains Alessandra, “and at the top of both our lists was starting a fashion brand!” Both go-getting women, things moved extremely fast for the two. “This was back in March of 2014. Within the month we were making sketches and by the fall we were ready to have samples made. It is so crazy to think how fast it all happened but we still have a long road ahead!”
I’m so pleased to share their amazing first collection which embodies the worldly style each Gypsetter has but streamlined by this incredible New York sense of chic. For me, being a Gypsetter is not all about ikat and boheme but also taking history and tradition and transforming it into something modern yet timeless. Not to mention Alessandra is an extremely dear friend of mine. We go way back from when we were in our not-so stylish diapers and when she used to wear 3 tutus and 100 necklaces putting Madonna to shame. I am beyond proud of my friend who managed to turn her passion into her business. Get to know more about this amazing brand – another reason to be proud to be a Filipino.
Love and light, Stephanie
The Gypsetters Net : What made you two decide to start Meztiza?
Alessandra Perez-Rubio Briggs: We both saw an under-representation of Southeast Asian inspired styles in today’s fashion market and we both wanted to created something unique and season-less.
TGN: Why the name?
Louisa Rechter: The definition of Mestiza is “ a woman of mixed racial or ethnic ancestry” and while it may refer specifically to someone of native and foreign decent, I see the word “Mestiza” defining ultimately what our brand is: A mix of the Philippine inspiration with a New York sensibility, a blend of different cultures.
TGN: Describe the brand’s aesthetic
Alessandra: Mestiza’s debut collection is defined by clean lines with touches of gold appliqué , textured silk dupioni fabrics and simple streamlined fit. I wanted to subtly take inspiration from the Maria Clara and the cheongsam and modernize them which I think shines through in the collection . The gold lace appliqué’s are a nod to the beautiful embroidery found on the barong.
TGN: How involved are you both in the designing and manufacturing?
Louisa: We have both been working hard with a factory right here in New York City’s garment district. When developing the whole collection we both sourced all the fabrics locally and were extremely hands on in even the most minute of details.
TGN: Who would you consider your ultimate Mestiza? What would she embody?
Alessandra: I think Louisa and I have varying ideals on who the “Ultimate” MESTIZA is. I feel like in my head she changes day to day! Originally though, we were both inspired by our mothers in the 60’s and 70’s as the original Mestiza’s. The ultimate Mestiza is a woman who embodies a bold and adventurous sense of style.
Here are a few looks and where Alessandra imagines the modern day mestiza would wear them.
“The Pasay dress and the Bauhinia dresses in ivory are perfect for beach get-aways. We see it with gold accessories , effortless hair with a colorful cocktail in hand. Also great for brides!” – Alessandra (photos: Park Hyatt Hadahaa, Maldives and Pasay Dress in Ivory)
“The Tamarind top is for the woman of any age who is timeless and elegant. We just sold one to an older Palm Beach woman who wants to wear it to her country club cocktail parties! We also sold one to a girl who wants to rock it over a swimsuit on her South American vacation. This is blogger www.katalinagirl.com wearing it on her Hawaian holiday but we think she’d look great in Cartagena as well.” – Louisa (photo of Cartagena from CaminoGarabato.wordpress.com)
“The Palm Avenue Mandarin Collar Top with the Acacia Tuxedo pants are boardroom chic. We see them on a strong powerful woman who is on a mission! Perfect for an easy Day to Night transition, office to cocktails in a vibrant city like Hong Kong.” – Louisa
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We are two friends who were former magazine editors. Having moved onto other things, we both realized that the creative flow the publishing world used to offer us was missing from our lives. Armed with a common love of travel to the exotic and familiar, a penchant for the bohemian, an obsession with food and a lust for writing, we decided to collaborate our unique and fashionable journeys through life together in one passion project.
We are The Gypsetters.