We Raided Rocio Olbes' Classic Closet—See All The Interesting Pieces We've Found In It
Having started in the fast-paced fashion industry at a young age, Rocio Olbes grew up to be a girly girl in front of everyone, through fashion shows and magazine features. At the tender age of 15, Rocio sashayed into the runway and enjoyed the pleasure of basking in the limelight from time to time.
Rocio recounts, “I would maybe walk here and there but I never really you know took it on professionally. I was getting all these cool offers and I loved it, it was pretty, and all these clothes and good energy, but I never understood it as an industry and I never even really entered it. It was something that I did, but didn’t really understand at that time.” Deciding to focus on school, Rocio lay low in the fashion scene for a while and would only grace the glossy pages seen with family or her close group of friends.
Dressed in a red pantsuit made for her by good friend Rajo Laurel, even her dog Gaucho couldn’t resist being bewildered at Rocio’ exquisite beauty
Although she professes a love for all things feminine, Rocio nonchalantly shares how she has gone through several style phases as well, and has experimented with her fashion choices. “I would say that I went through my adventurous tomboy stages in general. But yes, my mother always loved dressing up so she had a beautiful
wardrobe, and I always wanted to play dress up. I think every girl loves the idea of playing dress up and have a bit of fun with clothes,” Rocio shares.
A decade or so after, Rocio found herself gravitating towards more polished pieces, with her taste and style evolving. From the adventurous and fun styles, she slowly shifted to more classic pieces that could stand the test of time, and it was a change she gladly went through.
Last year, she married Antonio Ressano in a beautiful ceremony in Tagaytay. All elements, from the paperie, décor, flowers, and especially the attire of the entourage, reflected her refined tastes. Wearing an exquisite creation by Rajo Laurel, Rocio was courageous enough to have even her bridesmaids in white gowns as well.
Although that may have been one of the most memorable days of her life, she reveals that their civil wedding, held several months before, comes second. She recounts, “Our civil wedding was done in a court room in Muntinlupa, and we went to this little bistro with a handful of friends after. I also wore a pink chiffon knee-length dress, made for me also by Rajo. It really felt like one of those milestones in life for me. It was very me—low-key and very intimate and it was incredible.”
A snakeskin clutch with a wooden handle which she keeps on rotation
Although she readily tells us that she still loves wearing her staple button-down shirts, jeans, and sneakers, the change was never drastic, as she has always preferred less revealing clothing choices. Her being with and eventually marrying a man a bit more than a decade older than her inspired her to go for more polished
or elegant looks, rather than going for young and sexy pieces.
She tells us, “I think change, at least (it is) is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight; I think you kind of grow into that. It’s about chapters in your life. So my chapter now as a wife or someone who really wants to be a mother is bringing out different things in me. I think it’s a natural progression.”
Evolving not just in her fashion choices, she tells us that she has likewise relaxed and embraced casual dressing and has gradually appreciated wearing very minimal to no makeup, learning to not be so conscious about it. What she does put a lot of thought into is shopping—mindful shopping.
She shares that it’s actually her husband who shops more than she does, as even when they’re traveling, the only thing she likes buying would be fabrics, which she has her close designer friends back in Manila make into something she can always wear. A perfect example of which would be the two-piece red suit she wore for this shoot; the fabric of which she stumbled upon when she accompanied her husband in buying a suit on one of their trips to Thailand.
A convertible clutch from Aranaz featuring a "solihiya" weaving pattern is one that’s currently on heavy rotation
It’s surprising and refreshing to discover that Rocio finds most delight in shopping in Manila. “So my favorite place to shop, and I hope other girls say the same thing, is Manila. I think we have become so cosmopolitan, and we can get most of the things that we like. I love going to my designer friends and I love seeing what’s available. I think we also have some amazing boutiques like LCP, where you can actually see gorgeous stuff. Also, I will always love Rustan’s. It’s just a place I’ve always loved since I was a child. It’s the first of its kind and it still feels really good when you walk in,” Rocio shares.
Moreover, Rocio firmly believes in being smart about shopping for clothes. Instead of buying something and waiting for the occasion to wear it, she prefers to wait for an occasion before buying or have something made for the occasion.
Lately, she has preferred separates, which she believes can go a long way. She says, “You have to have a strong foundation that you can build up. Keep it basic, like do a lot of neutrals. You can add your prints, you can add your accessories when you’ve got the basics covered, right? But I hope to say that be comfortable, be natural. I think it’s incredibly important to stress that you don’t have to spend much to look good. I am actually a huge advocate of this. It’s how you put it together and wear it than what you spend. I think it’s incredibly important because I don’t want a young girl to have that pressure. That’s the wrong message and I can’t stress that enough.”
A peek into how she leans on classic choices even for shoes, but keeps things interesting with patterns and textures
Admiring very much the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, for dressing in a mix of “high and low” brands, Rocio likewise loves the style of Amal Clooney, (the older version of ) Angelina Jolie, Lauren Santo Domingo, and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy. Rocio adds, “I’m also very moved by the styles of my friends. I love the women around me as they have fun with fashion the same way I do.”
Seeing that she does not shop very often, she tells us that instead of splurging on a shopping spree, she believes in updating and “editing” one’s wardrobe. She shares, “You have to constantly edit, as it’s hard and very, very expensive to update (in one go). I’d like to consider myself as someone who likes nice things, but I’m very aware of costs. I don’t believe that in order to be polished or well-dressed you have to break the bank. I really believe that there is a balance and you can go high-low. I have pieces that are Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, and I mix them with my Zara—another brand I absolutely love. So it’s just about constantly editing. I think it’s also about dressing appropriately for your body, and being able to pick items that are of good quality and aren’t so ‘dated.’ So minor editing here and there to pair with your foundation pieces.”
Indeed Rocio has refined her style, following closely the designs of her favorites Valentino, Yves Saint Laurent, and Ralph Lauren for the elegant, laid-back style. She, however, chooses to indulge more in the works of local designers such as Rajo Laurel, whom she loves for his great aesthetics, Vania Romoff for her romantic style, and Rosanna Ocampo-Rodriguez for “that occasion where you need to feel sexy and get confident with
With the belief that it works better for both her and the designers, Rocio feels that constantly working with a few designers helps them know her aesthetic better and makes the entire process more personal, while also helping her extend her wardrobe. As she says, “It’s kind of making things work for you than you working for things.”
A tray featuring some of Olbes’ favorite things—two clutches, pieces of heirloom jewelry, some of her
beauty and relaxation essentials
Taking matters into her own hands
These days, Rocio is busy with social work and women’s advocacies, especially those connected to her grandfather’s Scholarship Community Building Foundation, of which she is chairman. A notable program close to her heart is the project Bars to Bears, which she pushed for in an effort to give livelihood to women in the correctional facility.
She shares, “It gives a child a need but it actually extends livelihood for the inmate who’s creating the product. Designer friends give their excess cloth as donation so it’s environmentally friendly. It gives the girls creative therapy because they have full creative freedom in putting the colors and patterns together, and I think as a human being, you need to have pride in what you do no matter what. It also develops community as they do an assembly line. This is a pure give-forward model so the bear goes straight to a child in need after you sponsor the production.”
Aside from Bars to Bears and being part of the scholarship committee of Asian Development Bank, Rocio cooked up something with her good friends Stephanie Zubiri-Crespi and Cristalle Belo-Pitt, in hopes of imparting their knowledge on relationships, health, and beauty to other women. Having finished her course on positive psychology from the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), Rocio is now more sanguine in promoting development and livelihood, creativity and positivity, especially for women.
In the end, Rocio hopes for women to be confident and still be soft. She further adds, “If there’s a way you can be confident and soft, then I hope that would somehow capture my style. I think it’s very, very important in this day and age to be a ‘gentlewoman.’ So when somebody says, I hope to imitate your style, I hope that that
means not just the clothes you wear. I cannot stress that enough, and the more I learn about positive psychology, the more that it becomes so profound to me that this imaging that we place in our head somehow can lead us to not be happy. I hope to one day have daughters, and I hope that I can look at them and say to them that happiness is really something that comes from within and beauty is gained in confidence and elegance that you can’t buy.”
For someone who can choose to live solely a glamorous life, Rocio does, in fact, keep her generous and compassionate heart on her stylish sleeve.
Amidst the glitter and glamour life has for Rocio, she sits relaxed and poised in a sweater and flared jeans—two of her most favorite fashion essentials
This article was originally published on Metro Society's November 2017 issue.
Photographs by Jinggo Montenejo
Makeup by Patrick Alcober of Make Up For Ever
Hairstyling by Kim Echavia of Centro Salon