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Filipina Fashion Designer Happy Andrada Takes on the World
Words by Carla de Guzman
Beauty, brains, style, and talent - fashion designer Happy Andrada has it all. Known for her intricate detailing and masterful use of material, the Central Saint Martins graduate has created a unique style that has her personal brand seared on it. Since her debut in 2006, she has participated in over 50 fashion shows all over the globe, from Amsterdam to the Netherlands to Seoul to Japan.
To date, the world-renowned designer has won several international awards - including 2012 Miami Fashion Week International Emerging Designer and grand prize winner of Switzerland's Swatch Watch competition. Locally, she was awarded Inspiring Young Filipino Entrepreneur by Go Negosyo and Smart Choice Winner in the Weaving the Future competition.
With multiple awards, show-stopping collections, and magazine features under her belt, she's definitely a force to be reckoned with in the industry. But in spite of all the fame and glory, she remains grounded and humble. Well dressed, sweet and polite, we could tell that there was just something about her - apart from all the accolades and fashion shows - that was special. We caught up with her fresh off of her triumph at Amsterdam Fashion Week, where she showcased her Autumn/Winter 2016 Collection, and sat down for an afternoon chat to discuss her designs, inspirations, role model, and reasons for keeping the ones she loves close by.
Tell us about your journey as a fashion designer.
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always loved dressing up. It was innate to me because I have an older sister, and we collected Barbie dolls that were passed on to me. Even my mom was buying me parasols and dresses with petticoats and lace. I guess it just developed my love for fashion. When I was fourteen I would fill up a whole sketchbook with my designs, and when I was eighteen, I had my first fashion show during my debut. Then I took a fashion course in Lasalle College International and from there things just happened! I opened my store a year after graduating in 2007.
What was it like studying abroad?
It was nice, it was a really good experience being surrounded by other people from other countries. We got to learn about different techniques and approaches. It teaches you to step out of the box and try new things. That’s why I keep coming back! I liked getting out of my comfort zone and trying new things.
We heard you just came back from Amsterdam Fashion Week! Tell us how that happened.
It was so exciting, because I got an email that they were looking for designers, and they asked us to send our resume, portfolio, body of work…it was a lot of things. I sent mine, I didn’t know I would get in, because It’s Mercedes Benz fashion week, and for sure a lot of people would have tried out. I showcased fourteen pieces for that. I wanted the look to be something strong, something fierce, an avant garde woman of the future.
We hear your next show is in London. Any places there that you always find yourself going back to?
I like going everywhere every time I’m in London, but I love Liberty (on Regent Street). I take a photo of it every time I’m there, and I’m there twice a year! I love taking pictures of Liberty, Harrod’s Selfridges, the same things over and over again. I go back to the museums all the time, like the Victoria and Albert, I never get tired. There are a lot of things going on there too, like the Secret Cinema.
What’s the Secret Cinema?
It’s a cinema that’s like, ‘tell no one.’ If it’s ‘tell no one’ it means you don’t know what the movie is, or where it’s gonna happen. You’re just going to get an email a couple of days before that tells you coordinates that you have to Google. I’ve been to Secret Cinema three times now, and the first one was Grand Budapest Hotel by Wes Anderson. They just told us to wear 1930s costumes, and there was a map at one of the stations that tells you where to go. Then the last time was Star Wars! So we signed in and they gave us costumes, and they recreated the spaceships, the markets, and there was even a maze inside with Storm Troopers walking around!
Sounds exciting! It seems like you're the adventurous type. What pushes you to try things you haven’t tried before?
Life inspires me. I don’t like being monotonous. If you want to have an adventurous life, go out and have adventures! I believe that life is what you make it, try anything! What’s the worst thing that could happen? Apply for something you’ve always wanted to do, just take it off your bucket list. Like skydiving. I really want to try it! I don’t want to live life thinking ‘what if?’ I hate ‘what ifs.’ It’s amazing if you achieve something that you didn’t think you ever will.
Who are your role models?
My role model would be my mom. She’s a strong woman, she’s really independent, tough and driven. She’s an achiever so I just want to do something that she does! She raised me and my sister, and I really look up to her. When we were just students, she raised us and worked hard. I remember we were in the car when she went to work. Her office was her car because she was so busy. She really managed to balance work and family.
What’s your advice for young designers?
Be proud of your craft. Be proud that you’re Filipino, because that’s who you are. We’re different, and always dare to dare yourself!
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