Rita Nazareno in her signature look: relaxed button down polo and loose pants (that looks like a skirt) always paired with interesting footwear. Her haircut isn’t cookie-cutter either, and is just as otherworldly as her creations.

I’ve been a big fan of designer Rita Nazareno and her Zacarias 1925 bags ever since I saw my stylish (and the real Stylist of Sorts, IMO!) friend Luis Espiritu carry one in an IG post a few years back. Basket bags were having a major moment and Luis’ version was nothing I have seen before; it was so unique, chic and more of a work of art than just a bag. I was smitten at first sight. Fast-forward to 2018 and I finally set foot at The Alley in Karrivin in Pasong Tamo (I know, travesty right?) and saw the collection in person at Aphro and was blown away with the ingenuity, workmanship and wit that came with the very conversation-sparking designs. Thanks to my friend Clarisse and unofficial The Alley date, I got to view the latest collection and meet the designer herself as well as loyal customers and got a first-hand account on how she comes up with the most innovative bag designs inspired by mundane, everyday things. It was absolute magic!

Rita recently won a Katha Award for Best Product for Fashion recently but she doesn’t mention it, I had to do a bit of research to discover that fact. An impressive accolade that does not seem to consume or faze her; I’m assuming it’s because she would rather focus on her craft, one where she’s obviously having a ton of fun. Rita’s background was in media, having worked in the US, first as Senior Producer for FOX in Los Angeles, then as Creative Services Director in the NBC station in Houston, Texas for many years. Zacarias 1925 is “more of a family ties passion,” in her words, that she began designing for in 2010 after her stint abroad. “My work is very different from my mom’s who was very traditional. I consider my designs a lot more contemporary  with reference to things that interest me: architecture, contemporary art, cinema.” The 2019 collection is her 8th 0r 10th one, she has lost track. “I was inspired by the vintage portable TV sets from the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s as well as the H1 hi-way in Hawaii and our very own MMDA barriers along EDSA.” Like a true artist, she seeks inspiration everywhere and in everything. All the pieces are still made by the artisans from her Lola’s shop in Roxas Blvd. in limited quantities, so owning one is truly a rarity and can be passed on as heirloom pieces, keeping the heritage alive.

I ask Rita what’s next and she replies, “I’m flying to the States tomorrow!” Business or pleasure I ask? “For vacation!,” she laughs. Guess we’ll just have to watch out for her next moves come the new year. In the meantime, you can feast your eyes on her most recent collection at Aphro located at The Alley at Karrivin 2316 Chino Roces Ave. Makati. Don’t be late in the game like me, head over there stat!

Her whimsical MMDA clutch that mimics the orange shade of the barriers we see in EDSA.

There is a subtle extension to the handle to make it easy to clutch. A thoughtful detail that’s miniscule but definitely useful, as only women would know.

The row of rainbow boxes are inspired by Yugoslavian cabins in a similar shape.

The long clutches are smaller versions of the barriers at H1, a hi-way in Hawaii.

My friend Clarisse who prompted me to join her at the collection launch and is my unofficial The Alley date.

These vintage TV inspired bags have a front slot for cell phones, pens, glasses or anything else that might fit for easy access.

A seemingly unassuming brown long clutch bears a pleasant surprise…

Open it and a divider is exposed right in the middle to keep everything organized! How innovative is that! The clutch is awfully roomy, too.

A closer look at the H1 clutch.

Cher, Aphro’s shop manager, models another vintage TV themed bag.

These “rock” clutches are inspired by the landscape in Sedona, Arizona.

Artist Corina Borromeo was there to answer inquiries and poses in front of her two works displayed at the store. That’s “Eugene” on the left and “Francine” on the right.

A chair inspired by Victor Vasarely, a Hungarian-French artist and leader of the op art movement as well as the traditional Inabel pattern from Ilocos. Merging of two great design minds! To the right is a cornucopia cone, said to bring luck to the home when placed by the entrance.

Designer Cecile Ravelas, who also designed the SC Vizcarra shop in Shangri-La Mall toting a clutch she purchased right after this shot was taken. Cecile is also the talent behind Lagun hotel’s sleek interiors (in El Nido Palawan)



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