Rain Dagala and Em Millan turned their hobby into their full-time dream job.
With one milestone at a time, Team Rain x Em’s roster is one big royalty of iconic stars.
In a country like the Philippines, being a stylist wasn’t considered an actual career. A passion for fashion was not something you could create a livelihood from. Which was why before Rain was introduced to the world of fashion, he worked at a personal care company where he first met Em.
They worked together for four years until Rain decided to do something bigger. “Em was there to help me out. We felt like we needed to do something else, to live a more meaningful life that is aligned with what we really wanted to be, ” Rain said.
As a child, Rain always loved fashion. He said, “Fashion was the first confirmation that I was actually gay. My mom caught me turning our blankets into long skirts and gowns.”
Reading magazines influenced Rain to have a dream of becoming a magazine editor.
He read Teen Vogue and immersed himself in the world of fashion. He enrolled at the School of Fashion and Arts, where every Saturday, Rain would go to classes and Em would help him out with his homework.
“It was a hobby that got out of hand,” Em recalled, laughing.
They worked together for Rain’s projects, learning from each other until one day, a friend of theirs needed a stylist for a commercial shoot. “We had to style 30 celebrities for an international brand. That was the biggest break that made us enter the world of something we’ve always wanted to do,” Em said.
Wearing their heart on their sleeve and with nothing else to lose, Rain and Em went to their first project together. “We arrived there with only a shoe box. Half of it was our styling kit and the other half, accessories.”
One thing led to another, more projects came in and they were exposed to more people in the fashion industry. Rain met Bianca Gonzalez-Intal, who was back then the Editor-in-Chief of Meg Magazine. “She told me that she was looking for a fashion editor.”
Rain was the first EIC who introduced Meg to the Digital Platform
The first moving covers of an e-magazine was under Rain. “I replaced [Bianca] as the EIC,” he said. “When that happened, the transition happened from print to e-magazine.”
One of the covers of Meg’s e-magazine was Juliana Gomez. She said, “[My first encounter with Rain] was when I did my first ever solo cover on Meg. It was quite memorable, actually. We had to do it twice and I remember thinking, ‘Wow. Rain is super easy to work with.‘”
“The whole shoot was just something so new to me back then. I was only 15 when that happened, and now I’m turning 18,” She said. “I had no personal style, but now I’m still in the process of figuring out my personal style.”
Since that first encounter with Rain, Juliana became a part of Team Rain x Em’s roster of celebrities. “He has made me try a lot of different things that I wouldn’t usually wear, but because of Rain, I suddenly thought, ‘Oh, this actually looks good on me.'”
Team Rain x Em
Throughout Rain and Em’s years of experience in styling beauty queens, pop sensations, and iconic celebrities, they remain to be humble and grateful in every project.
“If you look at Twitter, my bio says: ‘stylist in the making.’ I want to achieve milestones before calling ourselves stylists,” Rain said.
Their extreme personalities contribute to their duo dynamic. “We are extremes. I’m a maximalist. I like doing things over-the-top,” Rain said. “Em has always played a role on pulling me down and to exercise restrain. It created a balance between the two of us.”
Em said, “I think that’s the magic in the partnership. My fear is that if at one point we think exactly the same and we don’t give something new to each other’s perspective, then what’s the point of having two?”
On Creating An Image
The roster of celebrities they style such as Julie-Anne San Jose and Juliana Gomez have completely different styles, and yet they seem to be completely comfortable in what they’re wearing.
The secret? Bringing out what they want to look like.
Em shared that it is important to consider the personality of their clients. “It’s always a collaborative effort. It’s not forcing a trend or aesthetic on [them].”
She said, “the collaboration becomes more meaningful because there is always an exchange of ideas and thought processes aligned to a bigger objective. More than just dressing up, we help build an image.”
Their advice to aspiring celebrity stylists:
In an industry full of privileged and passionate people, it could be somehow intimidating to put yourself out there and make a mark. One of the biggest hindrances in pursuing fashion is the pressure of becoming different and being able to afford the things that are “in style.” But Rain says otherwise:
“Times have changed, styling is now seen as a professional job. As long as you have the genuine desire to create beautiful things, and you go out of your way to learn, to earn your stripes… It may not always be a smooth ride, but that’s the good thing about fashion. Tomorrow is another day, you can always start with a clean slate.”
While Em said:
“Have that attitude of gratitude. The industry may seem glossy, but at this point, it’s so easy to enter already. The barriers of entry has already been broken down but not everybody could last. In this industry, you’re just as good as your last job. We have no contracts or regularity, so having that sense of gratitude will keep you on improving further.”