Chicest fashion event

The SLIM Salvacion Lim-Higgins gala held last Tuesday evening, 24 November 2009, at the Museum of the Filipino People [ at the National Museum complex ] was, quite simply, THE Philippine fashion event of the year.  It honored the fashion achievements and career of a Chinese-Filipina couturiere who proved that she could measure up, inch for inch, to her European contemporaries, the gods of haute couture — Cristobal Balenciaga, Christian Dior, Hubert de Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino Garavani, et. al..

If Ramon Oswalds Valera — with his penchant for line and magnificent embellishments — was the Filipino equivalent of both Cristobal Balenciaga and Christian Dior, Salvacion Lim-Higgins — with her talent for fabric manipulation and deft construction — was the Filipina equivalent of both Cristobal Balenciaga and Madame Gres.

The gala evening was also the launch of the ultrachic coffee table book “SLIM” on the oeuvre of the couturiere which was painstakingly put together by Salvacion Lim-Higgins’ only daughter Sandy and only son Mark, written by the articulate, witty, and edgy Lizza Nakpil [ a close and longtime family friend ], and designed by graphic designers du jour B & C.  In the spirit of sharing, the Higgins siblings also commissioned softbound copies of the book available for a more reasonable price accessible to fashion design students and teachers countrywide.

As the magnificent setting of the Beaux-Arts – style Museum of the Filipino People [ National Museum complex ] and its imposing Marble Hall practically demanded, Social Manila arrived in full force and in full DDG dropdeadgorgeous style, in a critical mass, according to social observers, unseen even during the Monique Lhuillier gala, and the Joe Salazar and the Ramon Valera retrospectives.

All of Manila’s socialites, establishment and newly-minted, senior and newly-ripened… Cristina Castaner-Ponce Enrile;  the very social blueblood Dolores “Loleng” Arguelles-Panlilio [ whose gown for a “Mancomunidad Pampanguena” ball was in the exhibit ];  Carlyn Manning;  the muse of artists, intellectuals, and multimillionaires, writer Gilda Cordero-Fernando;  Ching de las Alas-Montinola in a red gown;  influential “Philippine Daily Inquirer” publisher Marixi Rufino and husband Alex Prieto;  social lion Ado Escudero;  designer Criselda Lontok;  Conchitina Sevilla-Bernardo;  arts patroness Irene Marcos-Araneta;  banker Raul Tuason Manzano;  Gaita Araneta Fores;  Sunshine Lichauco de Leon;  Ino Manalo;  Michelline Syjuco;  Celine Lopez;  Wendy Puyat;  Miguel Rosales;  Cris Siguion-Reyna Villonco;  Joie Lhuillier;  Crickette Yu and husband Donnie Tantoco;  Hindy Weber and husband Gippy Tantoco;  fashion muse and camp icon Tessa Prieto-Valdes;  Frannie Aguinaldo-Jacinto;  Marit Yuchengco;  SLIM’s niece Jeannie Goulbourn;  Katrina Goulbourn-Feist;  SLIM’s niece Frances Lim;  jewelry designer Wynn Wynn Ong;  et. al..

All of Manila’s principal fashion designers were there:  long-established designers Pitoy Moreno, the iconic Christian Espiritu,  Frederick Peralta, Tony Cajucom, and Peter Lim;  creme de la creme doyen Inno Sotto;  uberexclusive Pepito Albert;  Hollywood success Ito Curata; Carla Sibal in Lanvin;  design genius Jojie Lloren;  society blueblood and favorite Rajo Laurel;  couture wizard Ivar Aseron;  Joey Samson;  Louis Claparols;  Kate Torralba;  Mich Dulce;  Jappy Gonzalez of the uberchic “Homme et Femme”;  show business doyen, designer, and professor Eric Pineda;  Lito Perez;  James Reyes;  Joel Escober;  fabulous Tina Daniac;  Martin Bautista;  new designer Gian Romano [ from Central Saint Martins, London ]…

The other powers of the Philippine fashion world were present in full force:  powerhouse editrix Thelma Sioson-San Juan;  Cosmo magazine EIC Myrza Sison;  Preview magazine editor Pauline Suaco-Juan in a fabulous Cary Santiago creation;  Faubourg Saint-Honore elegant fashion guru Rorie Carlos;  editor Katrina Araneta-Holigores;  top stylist Michael Salientes wearing an amazing, fully gold-sequined muff [ “Andre Leon Talley-ish,” according to fashionista Cecile Zamora-van Straten ];  uberstylish stylist siblings Liz Uy and Vince Uy;  Ingrid Chua-Go;  top make-up artists Denni Tan and Patrick Rosas;  high fashion arbiter Larry Leviste;  influential Jojo Liamson of Bench;  jewelry designer Oskar Atendido, et. al..

Also present were the high style trio of top investment banker Andrew Gan [ Beacon Holdings ], interior designer to “le gratin” Jonathan Matti, and top stylist J. Lee Cu-Unjieng.  Ditto the chicest of the chic, most stylish of the stylish twosome Chito Vijandre and Ricky Toledo;  Surface designer to “le gratin” Liliane “Tats” Rejante-Manahan had the crowd gushing with the chic yellow SLIM caftan of her legendary mother-in-law Elvira Ledesma-Manahan which she donned.  Tats’ great friend, aristocratic blueblood artist and designer Don Escudero, was also there.  Top production designer Gino Gonzales was in a Japanese-inspired ensemble in several shades of gray.  Aristocratic collector, museum donor [ Museo De La Salle ], and high style arbiter Jo Panlilio, taking a break from the spectacular decoration of his new pied-a-terre overlooking Roxas boulevard and Manila bay, was also there.

Easily the most expensively dressed and shod lady at the gala reception was the beautiful and statuesque Victoria “Vicky” Panlilio [ one of the swanlike daughters of the legendary international jeweller Fe S. Panlilio ], clad entirely in this season’s Chanel, eliciting discreet oohs and aahs from the very fashion savvy among the crowd gathered in the Marble Hall.  As one top fashion authority observed:  “To those who truly understood fashion, Vicky Panlilio stood out among the hundred beautifully dressed ladies at that reception.  Because she did not look like the usual Filipina lady:  She looked straight out of Park avenue.  She had that effortless look of the International Rich, like Dedes Zobel and Maricris Cardenas-Zobel.  Vicky P. wore her clothes easily, the clothes did not “wear her” at all;  She was in pants and she got away with it.  Unlike many of the ladies there who really dressed to the nines, short of an overhaul, one sensed that for Vicky P. it was just another party, and that the fabulous Chanel ensemble she wore was just one of the many that hung casually in her closets.  One instinctively knew that she dressed and lived like that everyday…”

The SLIM Gala was also significant as it was the passing of an era and the dawn of a new age…  It was not lost on the older guests that the grandes dames of times past — who would have reigned over such a glamorous, major social event — had finally gone, gone, gone.  NO MORE  Meldy Ongsiako-Cojuangco, no more Chito Madrigal-Collantes, no more Mary Hernandez-Prieto, no more Chona Recto-Kasten, no more Elvira Ledesma-Manahan, no more Pacita Ongsiako de los Reyes-Phillips, no more Conching Chuidian Sunico.  NO MORE Madame Imelda Romualdez-Marcos.  In their place have emerged younger and younger stylesetters, the new exemplars and arbiters of the New Crowd.

Fashionable Manila has forgotten that the fashion icon Imelda “Meldy” Ongsiako-Cojuangco was a loyal client of SLIM Salvacion Lim-Higgins during her younger years.  Meldy, Mrs. Ramon Cojuangco, lived in Santa Ana, Manila and would go to Vacion’s atelier along Avenida Rizal, even before the latter had moved uptown to posh Taft avenue.  It was only when Vacion had passed away that Meldy Cojuangco turned to Pitoy Moreno, now the designer most associated with her, for her evening dresses and gowns.

Although it was set in Manila, Philippines, the SLIM Gala was straight out of the “Runway” magazine fashion gala scene in the fashion cult movie “The Devil Wears Prada”…

Acknowledgments:  Mark Higgins, Sandy Higgins, Frances Lim, Caloy Campos, Jo Panlilio, Eric Pineda, Gino Gonzales, Larry Leviste, Don Escudero, et. al..




  1. Elinor Antenor said,

    September 30, 2017 at 2:21 am

    Hi I couldn’t read the whole article and I was searching for my ancestors Andita Lerma Hernandez- Huenefeld. I saw your article mentioning her name and one article dated Nov. 26, 2009. Yoi did mention about going to Madrid. May I ask a favor from you if you can have me a copy of your article? Thank you so much.

    Elinor Lerma Antenor

  2. October 9, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    I am looking for TONY CAJUCOM
    can any one help me

  3. March 12, 2010 at 4:41 pm


    Please be reminded:

    Comments with no real names, no verifiable email addresses, and no reliable identity checks will no longer be allowed.

    Toto Gonzalez

  4. Marilen Santos-Valdez said,

    January 22, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    Great Blog Toto! Thanks for the great insights….

  5. Enrique Bustos said,

    December 16, 2009 at 3:45 am

    Mel Vergel de Dios was found dead at the Ever Gotesco Mall on Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City (QC).
    According to a report from the Quezon City Central Police District, two mall watchmen discovered the body of 36-year-old Melchor Vergel De Dios, who graduated in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education major in Biology, at the backseat of a silver Ford Lynx sedan, which De Dios owned. The body of another victim also lay slumped
    on the floor. De Dios, who was president and owner of 1770 Garments Corp., sustained a gunshot wound at the back of his head and injuries on his head and other parts of his body, the police said. His head was wrapped in a white plastic bag with a galvanized iron wire tied around his neck while his hands were tied around his back. He was the former president of Young Designer?s Guild (YDG) and a member of the Fashion Design Council of the Philippines he was supposed to finish his Bachelor of Science degree in Clothing Technology at the University of the Philippines .
    Fashion designer Joji Lloren, a friend and colleague of De Dios in YDG, said (De Dios) may not have been the most famous designer, but was one of the talented designers? the country has.
    De Dios, designed the wedding gown of actress and QC
    councilor Aiko Melendez, he also did gowns for Heart Evangelista and television hosts Mel Tiangco and Solita Winnie
    Monsod. His designs were also behind the brand names Vergel De Dios, Viz-a-Viz, and Pour Elle, carried by Cinderella shops.

  6. larry leviste said,

    December 15, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    I don’t recall Mel V de Dios, could I have known him by his full first name. Jules, please jog my memory.

    My sister Gina and Bessie ( my BFF in Face Book ) were contemporaries but Gina;s constant double exposure on the ramp was Petty Benitez, now curator of the National Museum ?

    OH OH before I forget, there is a blog site of Bob’s famous photos, with different portrait sections, Glamour, Showbiz, Politicians and my favorite Weddings were I saw the most INCREDIBLE Valera and SLIM’s robes de marriage.

    I am 52 and Gina is 51 years younger. The GOLDEN girls. LOLZ.

  7. Jules B. Vergel de Dios said,

    December 15, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    You don’t fail to impress me
    (so much so other wiz bloggers here)
    C H E E R S !


  8. Enrique Bustos said,

    December 15, 2009 at 5:15 am

    Bessie Badilla used to apear in the sitcom eh kasi babae which was produced by Nini Ramos Licaros, Bessie’s husband Bambi is the son of Charing Del Castillo she was an orginal blue lady of Mrs Marcos and Maam’s Favorite Architect before Jorge Ramos, Chito Del Castillo

    The LP Leviste St in Salcedo was orginally Alfaro St it was changed only about a decade ago the son of LP Leviste,Tony married Celia Sarangaya her Family develop the White Plains Village and whose mother was know to have an enormous jewelrey collection in an interview in TV for the 2004 election the sister of Tony,Amelita L. De Leon said she only consider Celia as her sister in law she does not consider Loren Legarda the second wife as her sister in law
    because Tony & Loren were married in a muslim ceremony

  9. Jules B. Vergel de Dios said,

    December 14, 2009 at 6:56 am

    did you ever work with the late Mel (V.d.Dios)?
    If so, can you tell me
    some of your recollections? Thanks 🙂


  10. Jules B. Vergel de Dios said,

    December 14, 2009 at 6:31 am

    The late LPL
    was a brilliant mind in the real estate industry –
    in fact, that was the reason why a street in CBD Makati
    was named after him
    apparently because when Makati was developed
    he got that entire block for himself (could even be more)
    and subsequently erected the still-existing buildings
    [some are even condotel units] on that street.

    Enlighten me –
    the entire block isn’t Ayala-owned,
    is it?


  11. Jules B. Vergel de Dios said,

    December 14, 2009 at 6:08 am

    Thank you so much Larry…
    so it must have been that Bessie Badilla del Castillo
    and Gina L. were batchmates in the industry?
    Especially during the days of Coco Banana
    and Lindy’s old Hyatt Regency
    (could it have been that too of Gina’s age by now?)

    Her curly hair-do in her tellie appearances
    were reminiscent of the late 80’s-early 90’s
    like during the time of Salon Salon in Ortigas Centre
    or the late Vidal Sassoon-trained Ruby Tubig (sister of Pin Antonio),
    who passed away due to Bronchogenic Carcinoma.

    I forgot which church it was
    where she tied knots with
    when there was the “Church’s-closed-maindoor-
    in-fog-and-light-effect”… hehehe

    Speaking of Bessie B.,
    I know she appeared in a sitcom
    (I forgot the title)
    where from time to time Nina Licaros
    would guest…


  12. December 14, 2009 at 2:29 am


    Speaking of your sister Gina L., my eldest brother Gene sometimes related that, during their time at the De La Salle University, the super intelligent and dropdeadgorgeous Gina Leviste once cried because she got a grade that was less than perfect, which was still very high anyway!!!


    Toto Gonzalez

  13. December 13, 2009 at 9:38 pm


    My sublime sister Gina spent her last 2 years of high school with my Ninong Dr. Jappy de Santos Pineda in unremarkable Bakerfield, California. When she came home, the gawkly duckling had become a SWAN, neck as long as Nefertiti, skin like alabaster ( she resembled her great grandmother Angela Viana de Santos ) endless legs and arms, GINA was my signature model in every fashion show I did including the 2 Valera Awards shows. On the ramp, she was a chameleon becoming sporty and sexy in menswear inspired outfits and la diva absoluta in formal wear.

    Her first outings were at Where Else where I would make her weekend outfits ( she got to keep them and this was her incentive to while the long hours of curfew, poor thing ) She had a meteororic rise in the fashion community for she resembled a young Jaqueline du Ribes with her aqualine nose and very elegant catwalk. There was a time in the late 70’s and early 80’s when there was a gala show of a designer 5 days a week and GINA WAS always the bridal finale. She took her profession seriously and dated Jun de Leonand they produced a beautiful son named Niccolo.

    What was baffling to me and the fashion industry was how Gina could balance having luncheon shows at the Hyatt while still maintaing Dean’s List average in De LaSalle Taft.

    Gina or Regina aka Regine finished Valedictorian and Summa Cum Laude in Lia Com and Lia Honors ( twin degrees )

    I remember attending fetes, balls and Coco Banana anniversaries with Gina as the best arm candy on earth. She was game to wearing costumes and having a grand time when her schedule permitted.

    Today she lives in Sydney blessed with a daughter Mishy from her husband Magdi Bolous, a Egyptian Australian billionaire.

    I will see her for New Year as her whole family will come home to attend the wedding of my aunt Vicky Garchitorena to Winston Arpon. As usual, she is asking what she should wear as Vicky is her Ninang and Gina will be lector at the Santuario de Forbes nuptial mass.

    I have designed my mom’s violet gown as well as her sister Nina Pineda Galang , so i am sure Gina’s gown will not be far behind.

    Lolo Lauro was my grandfather’s younger brother. L.P.Leviste St. is named after him. I alone in the vast Leviste family tree hold the initials L.P. Leviste. So I tell my gullible foreign and domestic friends the street is named after moi. Hohohohoho

  14. Jules B. Vergel de Dios said,

    December 13, 2009 at 5:18 pm


    Share some memoirs of Gina Leviste…
    Not so many years ago,
    whenever I would pass by Escada Boutique
    in Shang Mall, there was a mannequin in the display
    who looked like Gina.

    One good man I know of who lived
    was Lauro P. Leviste,
    he was principled and word-dignified man.


  15. Enrique Bustos said,

    December 13, 2009 at 3:53 am

    Presy,Thank you for your kind comment & Merry Christmas to you and your family

  16. Presy Guevara said,

    December 9, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Larry, you left me speechless with your revelation. What a beautiful story about Gang and the Fourcast. Thanks. May you have the happiest of Holidays ever.

  17. larry leviste said,

    December 9, 2009 at 8:09 am

    Pre, would you believe once upon a time, I was a fashion designer. I remember Gary Flores, the fashion director at Hyatt Hotel in the mid-seventies chose four young designers to strut their stuff for the luncheon fashion shows at “La Concha,” the penthouse buffet resto.

    It was Gang Gomez, Lorenzo ( Gojar ), Chito Vijandre and myself. Both Gang and Lorenzo were from the House of Christian Espiritu. Gang finished fashion school in Parsons in the US ( like Inno Sotto ), Lorenzo was a master cutter who was responsible to some of the stunning ternos of the Imeldific when Espiritu was doing her wardrobe. Gang was a fashion illustrator for Espiritu as was I for Auggie Cordero when we met 5 years prior to the Hyatt show.

    The show was called FOURCAST and we did capsule collections from casuals, to cocktails to very formal gowns. Gang, to me at least, was always the smiling, even tempered one with his long bob with bangs. Gang would always be proper and poised albeit always dressed preppy while I was the wild card.

    After we were “introduced” to society, we all had our own ateliers and did adequate business and were always in the papers for subsequent shows and pictorials. This went on till the early eighties.

    Gang had a shop in Leon Guinto St.. He once showed me his bedroom with white cotton eyelet curtains and beddings and dark hardwood furniture. What I remember distinctly were all these bouquets of dried roses which were upside down ( to keep them intact ). Yes, our Gang was chaste and pure.

    The fashion world was bewildered when he closed shop and joing a contemplative order whose monastery was in Bukidnon. I was not surprised as Gang was devout and pious. Many years later, Gang in full white robes met me for coffee in the Manila Hotel and we had a quick chat. He said he always had a ” calling ” from GOD that he resisted. Now he was ” so happy. ”

    This is what all my friends who became nuns, brothers, priests and monks ALWAYS tell me. This was his calling, his benediction.

    Still possessing his gift of design, Gang had an exhibit of HOLY vestments ( chausibles, robes, capes and stoles ) with incredible colors, embroidery and design. I would describe them as noble, stark and elegant.

    Lorenzo ( Gojar ) also disappeared. They say he bought a beautiful parcel of land in a forrest. Legend has it that NPAs forced him to leave his land. He went quite mad and roams the streets of Manila. Chito Vijandre with loooong time companion Ricky Toledo own Firma and 632 in the Greenbelt Malls. have been writing for the Philippine Daily Inquirer since l994. I left in 1986 after the EDSA revolution and lived in Hollywood till I decided to come home.

    A FOURCAST foretold fittingly.

    A HAPPY HOLIDAYS to one and all who read this LOVERLY blog. I’m so glad that, as we close another year of living DANGEROUSLY under a truly evil regime, we have the comfort zone of TOTO’S BLOG to escape, find kindred souls who share the PERSISTENCE of memory.

  18. Presy Guevara said,

    December 7, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    Re #20, how did Edgar Gomez become a Bukidnon monk? What was behind the transformation? Enrique, what a great source of information you are. Thanks for being here. Please keep on writing.

  19. Myles Garcia said,

    December 7, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    Actually, the Huenefelds were off to Europe as early as the early ’60s when the older kids went to school in Rome for a year or 2. Then they came back and settled in San Lo. Then I seem to recall, they moved to Dasma; and then sometime around 1970-72, finally decided on Madrid. I don’t think the Marco-tial years had anything to do with it; they were quite apolitical.

    The kids are all over the place now: I think 2 in Canada; 1 in Florida; 1 or 2 in Manila, and the rest in Spain.

  20. Dr.Taddy Buyson Gonzales said,

    December 7, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    The family of Huenefeld left for Madrid during the oppressive regime of Marcos.
    They successfully operated a Filipino restaurant “Sulo” in Madrid along Avenida Capitan Haya.
    A couple of years ago, her husband passed away and she decided to live in Manila again.
    And I think within the first year she was here, she met her tragic end.

    Her maids who were the suspects were recommended by her friend’s long time manicurista.

  21. Myles Garcia said,

    December 6, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Re (Tita) Andita H.’s passing…of course the autopsy report would show a heart attack…after only struggling with all her might to fight being smothered by a pillow and probably being held down by the other assailants. What else could it have induced? and if she had a weakened ticker, then her killer helper(s) must have also known about that.

    We had lost touch with them like the last 3 decades or so. Missed connecting with them the last time we were in Spain. So sad.

  22. Enrique Bustos said,

    December 4, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    Ben Farrales: Notwithstanding his lack of formal schooling in design, Farrales took advantage of his long apprenticeship with “Aurelia’s” then run by Ms. Portillo in 1952. He took note of everything he could possibly lay his eyes on, studied the different designs and the execution of making a dress while working at “Aurelia’s.”

    Mrs. Andita Huenefeld was the sister of Mrs. Vicente and Bert Hernandez. Last year, she was found dead inside her apartment unit in the Zaragoza building in Legaspi village by her relative. The autopsy report showed Huenefeld died of a heart attack but the police report noted her condominium unit was “in complete disarray” and the vault had been destroyed. The two maids, only identified as Gloria and Tonette, had gone missing. The body was discovered at 10:30 am but further investigation showed the guards at the condominium saw the house helpers leave the area the night before.

  23. Enrique Bustos said,

    December 4, 2009 at 4:25 am

    “”Kapampangan women, like all daughters of Eve, love to dress up and strut their stuff, making statements with the latest fashions and style. The pre-War economic boom brought about a new level of prosperity to Kapampangans allowing women to indulge in a bit of vanity, including resources to pursue her personal interests for beauty, fashion and grooming.”

    “‘Alta sociedad’ events of yore have often served as centerstages for a Kapampangan lady to strut her stuff and display her sense of style. To be seen in her best finery in one of Pampanga’s socio-civic balls like those staged by El Circulo Fernandino is definitely one of the most flattering experiences she could ever have. It was a must then for a modern Kapampangan to be abreast of the latest trends in fashion and beauty, and for these, she turned to the known fashion schools of Pampanga.”

    “R. T. Paras is perhaps the most notable fashion house established by a Kapampangan. It was put up by the enterprising Roberta Tablante Paras, a woman of extraordinary talent and character, very much ahead of her times. Roberta was one of the daughters of Modesto Paras, a former juez de paz (justice of the peace) of Culiat. Her dressmaking skills were recognized early. But a romantic liaison with a married doctor caused her to be disowned; she fled to Manila and open a small dressmaking shop in Binondo in 1902 and in Quiapo in 1912.”

    “Slowly but surely, she built her business while building a list of prominent clients, that would come to include First Lady Aurora Aragon Quezon. Roberta’s daughter by the doctor, Josefina, acquired her mother’s skills and business acumen, establishing R. T. Paras as one of the country’s most popular couture shops in the 40s and 50s. Josefina’s son, Froilan “Roy” Gonzales would later graduate at the top of his class at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne and, at age 22, would join the House of Pierre Cardin in Paris as a designer in the early ‘60s. He would eventually also become head designer for Jean Patou and Leocanent-Hemant. He came home to head R.T.Paras Haute Couture which has become a name synonymous with excellence in the domain of high quality wedding gowns, corporate attire, suits and formal wear.”

    “In San Fernando, Florencia Salgado Paloma was another trailblazer who put up the famous Salgado Fashion School in the 1940s. It had a complete curriculum, offering courses in dressmaking, beauty culture and hair science. The school boasted of the international credentials of its instructors—one, Miss Erlinda Miranda now Oledan, had “just arrived from America where she graduated from Hollywood hair science and beauty culture in New York”–as a signboard proclaimed. The founder herself was educated in France. Florencia’s son, Albert Paloma, inherited his mother’s creative genes and is an accomplished interior designer, artist and art connoisseur.”

    “In the 70s and 80s, Gang Hizon Gomez and Efren Ocampo, both of San Fernando, made their own distinctive marks in the Philippine fashion scene. Gomez (now Dom Martin) created haute couture for Manila’s 400, while Ocampo found success in the RTW business, and is still active today. Sisters Peanut and Patis Tesoro, who trace their roots to the Pamintuans of Angeles, are also recognized couturiers noted for weaving in traditional materials into modern creations. Indeed, if there is one thing that never goes out of style, it is the Kapampangan’s passion for fashion.””

  24. Enrique Bustos said,

    December 4, 2009 at 2:40 am

    “”With the rise of young male fashion designers following the footsteps of the phenomenal Ramon Valera in the late ’50s, there had been attempts to unite them into one solid group to make their presence felt in the exclusive circle of high society. Thus, in 1958, the young Turks of Philippine fashion, namely, Pitoy Moreno, Ben Farrales, Aureo Alonzo, Casimiro Abad, Ernie Arandia, Arturo Cruz, Rudy Dandan, Gilbert Perez, Emil Valdez and much later Christian Espiritu bonded together to form the Philippine Couture Association. The pioneering designers group became the darling of fashion impresario Conching Sunico, who brought their collections to the Seattle World’s Fair in 1961 and in the world tour of the Karilagan International.
    They were quite influential. They had our own set of models, the likes of Joji Felix, Conchitina Sevilla, Bambi Lammoglia, Toni Serrano, Cristy Flores, Barbara Perez, and they would teach them how to model before the camera or before an audience in Botica Boie,” they were regularly featured in notable publications as the Manila Chronicle, People magazine, the Philippine Tribune and the Philippine Graphic magazine.”

    “The success of their association spawned another designing group, the Fashion Designers Guild of the Philippines, spearheaded by Valera himself and the dames of Philippine fashion like Salvacion Lim-Higgins of Slim’s, Pilar Ver- Romack of New Yorker, Vicky Galang of Madonna’s, and Gunding Noguera of Très Chic, along with Tony Abeto, Karlos Burgos, Bert Hernandez and Pedrito Legaspi. “They had their own set of models, too, and we all competed professionally for clients and fashion show projects.”

    “When President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972, both groups became inactive and faded to oblivion.”

    “Around the mid-’70s, a short-lived Buklod led by Christian Espiritu, Rudy Fuentes and Ernest Santiago came into being.”

    “The group, weighed down by internal conflicts primarily due to clash of personalities, quickly disbanded after their first gala show.”

    “In 1981, when the concept of ready-to-wear designer clothes was starting to catch on in the local market, the Fashion Designers Association of the Philippines was born with Cesar Gaupo as president and Ernest Santiago as chairman of the board.””

  25. Dr.Taddy Buyson Gonzales said,

    December 4, 2009 at 12:46 am

    My mom’s modista was a frail, serious looking lady who smoked a lot, Ms. Annie Osorio.
    She had her place in Calle Isaac Peral behind the Marian Clinic. She later transferred to a house in that area too.
    Ms. Osorio had a teenaged daughter then, Lita, who would entertain us the kids while my mom was fitting.
    There was a small place along Isaac Peral, beside the clinic selling “bibingka”, I think it was “Ferino’s” which was always packed with customers.

    “Aurelia’s” along Mabini was where my mom would get her suits for travelling. I think it was somewhat like “New Yorker”, almost across, selling imported ready made clothes.

    Ms. Marina Antonio, an elderly, conservative, modest lady whose dress shop was in her home in Pasay and Mr. Bert Hernandez in his place behind the Sto. Domingo church were the ones making her ternos when she was asked to be a madrina.
    Ms. Marina Antonio was long time family friend.
    Mr. Bert Hernandez was the brother of her friends, Mrs. Tibucio del Rosario, Mrs. Gregorio Gabriel and Mrs. Vicente of the Talleres Maximo Vicente.

    Ms. Pacita Longos was a much older modista who made the “sayas” of my grandmother. She made the wedding gown of Pitang Eusebio circa 1936.
    Another lady making “sayas” was Ms. Goquiolay. Both were active even before the war.

    My father ordered his barong tagaolgs from “Tesoro’s” or “Simon’s”. And his tailors were the Chinaman “Wm. King” beside the Ermita church, or “5th Avenue” while the one making our school uniform was “Goodall’s” in Echague, a Chinese haberdasher.
    The bespectaled Mr. King hardly spoke. He worked diligently on his table in his clean, homey shop with a tape measure around his neck. His interpreter was a young Filipina who was also a seamstress working at the back of his worktable. He made “americanas” very well as testified by his clientele who were known businessmen and politicians then.
    Actually Mr. King was recommended by our neighbor, then Sen. Emmanuel Pelaez.
    “5th Avenue” and “Goodall’s” were commercial, busy stores also selling ready made shirts, “camisedentros” etc.

    We got our ready made clothes from “Aguinaldo’s” in Echague, before they opened in the new area, Cubao.

  26. Enrique Bustos said,

    December 3, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Before the advent of RTW there were great fashion houses in the Philippines like Josefina Paras-Gonzales of “R.T. Paras,” Aurelia Portillo-Gatchalian of “Aurelia’s,” Pilar Ver-Romack of “New Yorker,” Vicky Galang of “Madonna’s,” and Gunding Noguera of “Très Chic” and the contemporaries of Ramon Valera like Pacita Longos, Marina Antonio, Purita Escurdia and Juanita Roa.

  27. larry leviste said,

    December 2, 2009 at 8:13 am


    Please accept my heartfelt thanks to your wonderful leads and resources.

    Bob Razon has a book, mayhaps I can appeal to his musician son Bo to show me the archives. In the goggled items, Slim’s and National Artist Valera sent their models to the Bob’s Studio before they went out to their soirees. What a glamorous Manila you both have seen.

    Enrique, your stream of consciousness account of the DIADEM ball was stupendous in detail and turn of phrase. Please write more as I am deeply researching.

    MYLES, I went to and THERE were splendid coronation gowns on Pacita Madrigal by Ramon Oswalds Valera although still deep into his Filipiniana mode with “panuelo” but the ornate beadwork ignited fires in my imagination.

    BTW, after filing my fashion report at the Inquirer today, I am attending what will be a lavish ball at the NBC tent. Called the “Magical Faeries Ball” by the Ablaza family. I am wearing a Puey Quinones glittery kaftan that may have a nod to Slim or Ramon Valera’s 60’s penchant for giant paisleys in colors of nude, peacock blue, and silver.

    My full report on this page tomorrow.

  28. Enrique Bustos said,

    December 1, 2009 at 6:07 am

    Larry, this may help check the Autobiography of Chito Madrigal Collantes titled Picture Me there are several pictures of Chito and her friends wearing some of the creations of Ramon Valera

    To celebrate liberation Manila’s favorite pre war designer Ramon Valera created a special fashion show the FilAmerican Fiesta in 1945 which introduced a revolutionized post war terno discarding the panuelo which modestly tucked into a collar of the pre war dress Valera’s new terno were left bare in front and cut deeply to the bosom the result was a grown that was decollate bare and elegant the new boldly beautiful ternos were modeled by young socialites of that year Chona Recto Ysmael Conching Sunico the Commonwealth’s Miss Philippines Rosie Osmena daugther of the President Elivira Ledesma Eduque & Helen Zulueta proceeds from the ball were turned over the same night to the Philippines First Lady Esperanza Osmena in an official presentation

  29. Myles Garcia said,

    December 1, 2009 at 4:14 am

    Found this great website re Manila/Philippine carnivals and the pre-war Miss Philippines…

    Seems like a wonderful resource…

  30. Myles Garcia said,

    December 1, 2009 at 4:07 am

    Enrique wrote: and the former garage mechanic went into the Palace…

    Hmm…I am related to the Magsaysays. 😉

  31. Enrique Bustos said,

    November 30, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    Probably the most spectacular ball ever stage in manila the Bal Diadem as it was called featured twelve socialites modeling the birthstones of the month of the year with ternos designed to match there were Garnet for January Amethyst for February Aquamarine for March Emerald for May Pearl for June Ruby for July Peridot for August Sapphire for September Tourmaline for October Topaz November Lapiz Lazuli for December the ladies committee in charge of the of the annual charity ball to benefit the Anti Tuberculosis Society made the choice of a theme for the year’s ball since 1953 was the year Queen Elizabeth II coronation the ladies decided Manila should produce a coronation of its own a grand spectacle in which all the family jewels belonging to the philippine’s leading families would be displayed in public (for charity) a group of pretty young socialites was selected to model the jewels of their families and not incidetally the ternos especially created by Ramon Valera to match each set of stone where a member of a family was not available to model the jewels were worn by a close family friend acted as surrogate so that for example the Quezon Family Jewels were worn by a close friend of the Quezon Sister’s Nena Fabella Pamintuan the widow of President Quezon along with her daughter and a son in law had been ambushed and murdered by dissidents in 1949

    And the Highlight of the jewel fashion parade the indubitable star of the occassion was Chito Madrigal appearing as April The Diamond with all the Madrigal Diamonds worn with a white Terno heavily beaded in white bugle beads and rhinestones the diamonds the collection that belonged to Chito and her sisters were worn set into a diamond chocker rings and tiara of real diamonds The Madrigal Diamonds had in fact a unique history of their own Chito’s mother as in the custom among most Philippine women had invested in precious stones over the years so by the time of her death just before the war she amassed a sizable amount of jewels for her daughters as the madrigal fortune increased so had the collection so that by 1941 there were full sets of Diamonds Emeralds and Rubies for each five daughters when the Japanese attacked the Philippines the eldest sister took all of the jewels out of their settings and hid the stones in sections of a hollow pipe then had the pipe buried in a cement hollow blocks in the family cement factory she carried these blocks to their house in baguio the house was later donated to the pink sisters after the war unfortunately for them when Mac Arthur’s forces returned to liberate the Philippines the Japanese hig command fled to baguio with the result that baguio was bombrd by the allied planes the Madrigal house took a direct hit and burned after the war the madrigals unearthed their cement blocks and extracted the pieces of pipe the pearls were all ruined black and rubbery as licorice the emerals had lost all their color and bled white in the intense heat only the diamonds were unharmed blackened on the outside they emerged hard and glittering unscathed when the carpon was scraped.

    Photographers and reportres from Life Magazine covered the Bal Diadem and Photographed the models in all their spendor later the article appeared in Life featuring Chito as the Diamond the story that went with it stated that this vulgar display of wealth was indicative of corruption of the Quirino administration of which her father was one of the most prominent backers unbeknownst to chito and her friends at the time this was part of the Luce Publication and CIA combined efforts to put Magsaysay in Malacanang Palace which indeed they were successful in doing the luckless quirino was portrayed as hopelessly corrupt and the former garage mechanic went into the Palace

  32. larry leviste said,

    November 30, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    MYLES and TADDY,

    Salamat for those LEADS, I like Sherlock Holmes will track them down.

    When I was Style Director Of Metro Magazine in the late 90’s, we did a special 50’s issue and I recall Woman and the Home Magazines from the Chronicle ? that were rather preserved albeit crispy paged archives. Now I recall some gowns worn by Nelly Lovina, Chona Kasten and Elvira Manahan. Even the plumed terno of the Imeldific by Ramon Oswald Valera. It was said he had the IQ of a genius. He is the Once and Future King of Philippine Fashion.

    In the 70’s there were 3 years of the Ramon Valera Awards For Fashion of which Joe Salazar, then Ernest Santiago won the Grand Valera Award respectively. There were prizes for Most Promising Designer, Best in Couture and Ready to Wear and Most Innovative. It MIGHT be a good idea to have these awards for setting the parameters of fashion excellence revived.

    Come to think of it, there are NO annual fashion awards for our country where everyone and his lover is a designer.

    Calling TOTO ! What sayeth you ?

    But I wish to pillage Bob’s or Veluz’s still. Let’s get cracking.

  33. Myles Garcia said,

    November 30, 2009 at 8:38 am

    There was already a previous discussion (although much shorter) about this same subject in a previous thread. (Only Toto knows where that may be.)

    I was in high school during the heyday of those 2 balls. They were fairly well covered (as you said, Taddy) by the Manila Times (especially the Sunday magazine), the Manila Chronicle, I believe the weekly called Women’s Weekly (I think that was); and the Manila Bulletin. And then the fateful elections of 1965 and the installation of a newer, more rapacious “oligarchy” intervened. Perhaps that also contributed to the decline of the two balls since many veterans of the two affairs were NOT exactly bosom buddies of the ‘novo arriviste’ occupants of Malacanang.

    Re my post #4: the Dr. Arturo-Leonila Garcia Golden Wedding Anniversary was indeed in July 1959 (I post-hastily thought, my God, could it already have been 50 years ago? Yes, indeed it was). And then Enrique B. mentions matching shoes and handbag. Yes, I recall my mom (whose 89th birthday we quietly celebrated yesterday) had those made too with her Handog terno (who either had his shop the Quiapo area or Mabini? Anyone recall otherwise?) I took a look at her formal portrait of said evening; and you are right, Enrique B., the photo is captioned “Veluz – Manila Hotel.” So there was an on-site studio there, making Veluz the ‘Official, In-House Photographer” for many of the Manila Hotel events, and that would be one resource for what Larry hinted it…if their archives are extant. But if the studio or its archives are even around at all (since photos of those days were produced either in sepia or from silver-nitrate negatives), they might be like my mom’s photo and all those women’s pancro make-up…fading fast 🙂 ….especially in Manila’s humidity.

  34. Dr.Taddy Buyson Gonzales said,

    November 29, 2009 at 11:34 pm


    It was only THE Ramon O.Valera who could command such a “scandalous” amount for his creations at that time, as no one else was at par or came close to his singular prestige as a couturier.

    I have seen a compilation of clippings from news articles about that annual event from the society columnists of that era like Ms. Lina Obieta Sevilla, Ms. Lina Trinidad, Ms. Amelia Tablante Valencia, Ms Licuanan, Ms. Amelita Recio Cruz.

    Perhaps somebody will have the patience to do a research on those annual events from the archives of the Lopez Museum. They were traditionally held during the summer months before the rainy season.
    Or from the archives of the known studios then like Veluz, Bob Razon’s who covered the events.

  35. larry leviste said,

    November 29, 2009 at 7:11 pm


    Please post pictures of these stellar drop dead gorgeous 12,ooo peso Valera cabesera gowns.

    I cannot find any pictures for my thirsty mind to gander.

    Toto……… S.O.S. where may I find pictures of Valera gowns, I own the Valera book but reading the recent posts of Buyson and Garcia, it boggles my mind. I really wish to see some vintage pictures. PLEASE

  36. November 29, 2009 at 5:52 pm


    My… Ramon Valera was VERY EXPENSIVE, wasn’t he??? 😛 😛 😛

    Toto Gonzalez

  37. Dr. Taddy Buyson Gonzales said,

    November 29, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    The respected Ramon O. Valera must have excitedly looked forward to the annual Mancomunidad Pampanguena Grand Ball.

    It was known that he politely refused the requests of all his carefully selected clients attending the annual ball for a gown.

    He desired to have only one fabulous gown by him to be presented in that annual ball.

    Ramon O. Valera always created an outstanding fabulous gown for only one Pampanguena, Mrs. Pitang Buyson Eusebio.

    And he knew how to keep people in suspense. He never revealed his design to anyone, not even to Mrs. Pitang Eusebio. He would slyly give her a swath of the material to be brought to Belen’s, the famous shoemaker, for a made to order matching pair of shoes and bag a month before the affair. Only to give another, entirely different one a week before the ball, for a rush order of a new set of matching pair of shoes and bag.
    Perhaps it was his way of protecting his creation from newshen who would speculate on what color the mysterious gown would be.

    Ramon O. Valera would consult with the hairdressers of Mrs. Eusebio, Carmen and Flavio, the morning of the affair and would suggest how to fix her.

    To make it more exciting, the mysterious gown would be delivered at the last minute. This enabled Pitang B. Eusebio to make a dramatic grand entrance!

    Grand entrance it was and the crowd would actually stand still in awe as Mrs.Pitang B. Eusebio would pass wearing Ramon O. Valera’s outstanding creation with sophisticated confidence, distinctive style and flair..

    The highlight of the evening, The Rigodon de Honor, was Valera’s show in the person of Mrs. Pitang B. Eusebio.
    The reason why many attended, to see the creation of Ramon O. Valera.

    Undoubtedly, it was Ramon O. Valera’s triumphant night.
    The following days and weeks, his outstanding creation would be the talk of the town.

    Yes, Mrs. Pitang B. Eusebio would send a blank cheque to Ramon O. Valera the day before the event.
    That was the era when the cost was never mentioned nor discussed at all.
    And Ramon O. Valera’s secretary would call Dr. Jesus S. Eusebio’s secretary a couple of days after the event to inform her of the deposited cheque.

    To give you an idea how much a gown cost then.
    In 1957, Sonny B. Eusebio, the only child , was given a new car to use for school, a Plymouth, the batman winged car, and it cost 7,000pesos.
    That same year, Mrs. Pitang B. Eusebio’s gown cost 21,000pesos, the price of three brand new cars!

    When the newly introduced Volkswagen Beetle cost 12,000 pesos, the cocktail dress called “sack dress” by Ramon O. Valera cost the same!

    In a medical conference, Dr. Constantino Manahan, the husband of Elvira L. Manahan, and Dr. Jesus S. Eusebio, Sr., the husband of Pitang B. Eusebio, were in a conversation and a mutual familiy friend chided them… “Ramoning must be so happy with both of you!!”

  38. Enrique Bustos said,

    November 28, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    The Great Balls of a Bygone Era

    the two competing ones the Kahirup and the Mancominidad came into being the home costurera was not sufficient designers emerged in manila men or woman who could draw design and create the most glamorous and beautiful ball gowns the most famous and sought after of these designer in the 1930’s and 1950’s was Ramon Valera.
    As the ball season neared women began coming in from the provinces months in advance to see Valera and other designers and have new ball gowns made the plans for the dress the particular color the design was kept secret woe to the designer who allowed two belles the same gown feud raged when two women found their rivals too similarly or better dressed feuds continued within some of the wealthy families through entire generations One leading sugar planter’s wife from negros was known to cut dead an arch rival twenty years later when they were both grandmothers
    the rivalry in the matter of gowns and jewels were bitter said one participant some carried those feuds to their dying days
    If the Kahirup was scheduled for a november date the Valera would start to work in june he might be doing as many as sixty dresses for one ball in order neither to betray his customers nor to confused himself he kept charts of the gowns so he could quickly refer to what colors styles and so on he was planning for each customer and make sure that no two were alike

    all of the balls traditionally opened with the spanish ceremonial dance the rigodon de honor a tradition in the philippines which dates back to the 19th century it was the ladies who were tapped to dance the rigodon and most especially if they were numbered among the lead dancers in the cabecera the first line of dancers who were especially concerned about their gowns and planned them months ahead for manila the cabecera was the a full fashion show it was equivalent to being a professional model or the star of a play as each couple came out all eyes would be on the lady and her gown elegantly coiffed all would wear their finest jewels

    Women with collections of fine jewelry often brought them to their designers so that he could match them to the color of their gowns an observer recalled for instance that Mrs Claro Recto the wife of a prominent Senator and Supreme Court Justice once asked Valera to design a gown specifically to wear with diamonds the terno that valera created for her was of black velvet with cutwork in white pique all outlined in hand beading other gowns were similarly designed for emeralds rubies sapphires

    and the jewels you dont see jewels like that anymore many women wore tiaras in their elaborate teased pompadours of hair with real gemstones in them aside from the jewels which were often priceless family pieces and the women would spend as much as P1,000 or $500 a fortune in the 1930’s for their elaborately beaded and embroidered dresses for the balls and then not dare wear them again in manila since it had been so publicly on display among the best dressed women of that period were nellie lovina the wife of a secretary of finance Aurora Recto wife of Senator Claro Recto and later wife to Justice Barera leaing hostess Cecilia Araneta Yulo and Nieves Moran wife of Chief Justice Moran

    In the 1950’s saw the emergence of Pitoy Moreno who switched from an art career he had envisioned while a student to fashion design and along with several young designers was soon edging in on a province once exclusively by ramon valera. Valera did not take kindly to his young rival their competition became legendary at the balls and fashion shows in manila which had the most prettiest models in those days the models were society girls and not paid so it was a matter of personal friendship and loyalty who had the most gowns at the ball at one show valera decided to throw his young competitor a curve by using instead of a debudante one of the film star as his chief model but pitoy had thought of the same idea only he used two leading actresses ,ball nights usually find the two couturiers standing at opposite ends of the lobby watching their customers enter as the ladies swept into the lobby in their ball gowns sights and comments were some times overheard from the designers seperate corners ah she gotten to stout for that or why did she put the tiara on top of my dress she should asked me first the designers eventually learned to demand a hand in the make up and choice of jewels of their patrons to ensure that total effect came off correctly the real promblems for the couturires was that each dress had to be an individual production and no dress could be like any other the Kahirup Ball was actually more of a fashion show than a dance every gown had to be creation the designer also competed about who dressed the most of the rigodon dancers of the twenty four who were chosen to dance the rigodon which opened the ball one designer might have fourteen of the dresses the other ten Pitoy said that he used to make 100 ternos for the balls and mind you each one had to be different from every other those were the days when i really earned my daily bread all the beads in manila would be on those dresses during ball season he said that he doubled his staff from 15 to 35 workers the extra just to sew beads during the month immediately preceding a kahirup ball i advised my customers about their make up their hairstyle their shoes even their movements i’d show them how to walk with style how to kick the little train

    at the annual 1963 Kahirup ball held at the Fiesta Pavillion of the Manila Hotel political pollsters took note when the first lady Eva Macapagal was seen dancing a waltz with senate president Ferdinand Marcos,Marcos wife Imelda had been selected as one of the leading dancers in the rigodon that opened the ball her face framed in a flutter of ostrich plumes she led the first line of dancers and her partner was then president of the kahirup ball commitee Leandro Locsin while competing beauty the south american wife of a prominent wife of a businessman led the second line the press that day declared Mrs Marcos clearly the winner and describe her dancing as performed with zest and gusto with a high spirit her head thrown back eyes laughing and arms swingin in front in braggadocio Imelda Marcos became a much sought after model for charity fashion shows other models recalled seeing her arrive for one of the shows with her politically powerful yet devoted husband escorting her and carrying her make up kit
    as for the Mancomunidad Pampanguena ball held in February 1964 the color green was selected by the ball committee as the leitmotif the fiesta Pavillion was decorated with green foliage and green tapestries there were green ribbons festooned from the pillars,to make a change for a more elegant presentation the committee decreed that rather than wear formal barong the gentlemen should come in their tuxedo as a more fitting accompaniment for the magnificent ternos their ladies ordered from the city’s couture houses the leading dancers who lead the cabecera of the rigodon was mrs Josefina Eusebio she ordered her gown from Ramon Valera two other ladies who also appear in the cabicera was Pilar Villarama and Pacita Gonzalez both chose to patronize one younger upcoming designer Ben Farrales.

    At the Kahirup and Mancomunidad ball teen aged children of reigning families appropriately dressed with young girls in formal kimona and boys in formal barong tagalog and dark trousers presented a brief dancing show of their own for thier parents.

  39. Myles Garcia said,

    November 28, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Actually, there was even a 3rd, lesser-known Manila couturier in the 50s and 60s who specialized in ‘calado, estrambotico’ (heavily beaded) terno-outfits: someone named Handog. (I guess not much different from those stunningly ornate outfits worn at the Santacruzans.)

    For my grandparents (Dr. & Mrs. Arturo Garcia) 50th wedding anniversary bash at the Manila Hotel sometime in 1959, my mom had this super-elegant gown made by Handog for the formal dinner and Grand Rigodon evening.

    Speaking of fashion reminiscences and the upcoming Marcos era series down there, has anyone seen the famous combo denim-terno-jumpsuit outfit of Imelda (a terno-like ensemble but the body is really a pants/jumpsuit cut and made of denim?) 🙂

    Will try to post an image of it sometime when I can get to it. It is priceless. 🙂 🙂

  40. November 27, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    My mom Rosemarie de Santos Pineda became Mrs. Oscar Leviste wearing a bridal gown by Ramon Valera. She told me he didn’t even measure her, looked at her and produced a beaded tulle modern Maria Clara with a satin train.
    My Lola Carmen de Santos Pineda wore a Slim’s terno. And when she passed away shortly after her silver anniversary, Mom had to pick up still another beautiful black and silver Chantilly lace terno with veil from her atelier for her to wear when she lay in state.
    It was the tradition that Mom’s other sister would wear either a Slim’s wedding gown and Lola would wear a Ramon Valera or VICE VERSA.
    It was said that Slim’s and Valera were the big rivals from the 50’s to the 70’s when Valera passed away.
    A lovely story told to me by Auggie Cordero was that once they had a back-to-back fashion show modelled by the top socialites and debutantes. Valera built a collection of opera coats and inside, upon cue, were fully beaded gowns matching the fully-beaded inner lining of the opera coats. Slim’s went the opposite route and made simple but intricate silk chiffon and sari long gowns BUT asked the High Society ladies to wear their own BIGGEST jewels which were tradionally a suite of a necklace or choker with matching ring, earrings, and bracelet. Upon fitting their gowns, it is said that some ladies like Chona Kasten, et. al. DEFECTED to the Slim’s cabine of models making Ramoning FURIOUS.
    It was a BIG DEAL in the newspapers the next day that all fashion editors praised Salvacion’s REALITY-based gowns over the showgirl numbers of Valera.
    A bit of fashion history for all you BRILLIANT Bloggers !

  41. Don Escudero said,

    November 27, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    It was truly a magical evening. So sorry we couldn’t chat, we were leaving as you were coming in. Those beautiful clothes, the women in vintage Slim’s dresses…Salvacion Higgins is more deserving of National Artist status than some poseurs…The book was beautifully done, the exhibit far superior to the Valera retrospective in it’s mounting and editing…The big guessing game was which designer borrowed the Campos wedding ensemble and returned it minus 9 yards of it’s hand-embroidered and beaded 18 yard train, a fact only discovered when the dress was lent to Mark Higgins for the exhibit after years in storage…(Hint: Valera didn’t like him because he copied the maestro’s designs). Another highlight was the pristine film clips of early fashion shows with the likes of Chito Madrigal, Eva Estrada Kalaw. and Carlyn Manning as models. Mrs. Manning stood watching her much younger (almost 50 years) self strut the catwalk, wearing a 1970s Slim’s jusi gown. What a career in fashion. To paraphrase an American writer in the sixties quoted in the book: On a dusty street in Manila was a small shop that made some of the most beautiful dresses in the world…And she was not a snob about who she made her clothes for. It seems a great number of the day dresses were made for ordinary middle-class, non-society women who went to her on a regular basis.

  42. November 27, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    VICTORIA P. was as I put it in PDI, the STAR of the night. Very elusive, rarely photographed but politely obliged to pose for a quick photo. An old Slim’s client and model Dolores Panlilio is ALSO in my 3 page spread reportage on the GALA year-ender. Log on to the Philippine Daily Inquirer and see 26 photos from last Tuesday night.
    Please peruse the book, comparable to any Rizzoli hard bound on Balenciaga or Tom Ford any day of the week.
    Salvacion was indeed our Elsa Schiaparelli ( the shocking pink book box and lead pages) reminded me that these two towering pillars of FEMALE haught couture can stand the test of time, side by side.
    They were both bold in DESIGN, surgically precise in cut and execution and thier bold colors in draping and intensive beadwork are true testaments to their God gifted genius. Which they shared to clients and now history. A wonderful awe-inspiring legacy for all who worship at the altar of true haute couture.

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