In a very intimate gathering held at The Row, Glorietta 5, we were visually treated to the life and works of Ramon Valera (tagged as the Cristobal Balenciaga of the Philippines), who was the first fashion designer to be proclaimed as National Artist for Fashion (2006). Valera was known for his elegant gowns and ternos. He was celebrated for his ingenuity and craftsmanship, for revolutionizing the national costume, for his mastery of embroidery and beadwork and for and translating Philippine motifs into contemporary terms.
A photo of Ramon Valera at work.
Much to the delight of the guests and the press (and of course the vhadingz!), Freeway showcased an exhibit of Ramon Valera's exquisite gowns before being led to the actual place of event. These gowns were owned by prominent clients like Elvira Manahan, Margarita Romualdez, Susie Bayot Ortigas, Adelaida Mendoza, Maritess Pineda, Evelyn Teehankee, Fe Leyson Qua and Caridad Velez Leyson. The funfare soon started as Madame Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, a major Valera patroness, came and stole the limelight in a pink terno.
Oh my, look at the long bridal train!
Fabulous embellishments on this piece!
Would love to get married and walk the aisle with this fab train... As if!
Amazing sleeves that extend as a train!
Geo stood alongside with one of his preferred original Valera gowns.
The crowd went crazy as Madame Imelda Marcos arrived.
The event was hosted by the fabulous Tessa Prieto-Valdes, who was not to be outdone in an embellished vintage white gown (with fur stole and her trademark extra frills) - although she wasn't sure if it was Valera's. Tessa, with her usual wit, brought the house down with her candid square-off with Madame Imelda who was, of course, the extreme overall highlight of the event. Madame was gracious and charming, and answered each questions willingly with much candor.
Imelda to Tessa: "Mga Filipino allergic sa pangit!"
Other speakers who paid tribute to Valera included fashion designer Aureo Alonzo (a Valera prodigee), Peching Zulueta-Gomez (Valera's niece), Tenten Wilwyco (Valera's fashion illustrator) and National Museum curator Nick Legazpi, Jr. All shared interesting stories and glimpse into the life of the man behind the National Artist.
Freeway's owner Sheree Gotuaco led the tribute to Valera while standing out in a Freeway Valera shirt and a long teal skirt.
L-R: Nick Legazpi (National Museum Curator), Aureo Alonzo (famed Fashion Designer), Valera's fashion illustrator Tenten Wilwyco, sister tandem Kathy Roxas-Chua Que and Sheree Roxas-Chua Gotuaco of Freeway, Former First Lady Madame Imelda Romualdez-Marcos and socialite Tessa Prieto-Valdez
Of course, the event wouldn't be complete without a fashion show. Freeway presented its Valera collection with 60’s-styled, beautifully sashaying models wearing dramatic head bands, gloves and knee-high socks with make-up done by Piandre, and shoes by Janylin. The designer’s signature creative cut, silhouette, colorization, and opulent but tasteful beadwork with embroidery were reinstated in woven dresses, tunics, dramatic blouses and sublimation graphic tees. Everyone was pleasantly tickled with how Valera's works were creatively translated in various wearable ways suited to today's modern times.
Models posed for my camera while preparing backstage: Melanie, Lotus, Christine and the face of Freeway's ad campaign, Zhenya.
On the other hand, George and I beamed also with pride, for we directed this segment that was enthusiastically appreciated by the crowd. We are thankful to the Freeway team, especially Mira Sagrado and Sheree RC Gotuaco, for another rousing experience and getting us two in a row after the well-lauded Ang Kiukok launch last year. Thanks also to our fabulous belles Grace Tan-Boyles and Shiela Marie Danipog who helped us in putting up a good presentation. The entire MGP team was entralled - who wouldn't feel elated to do a show with Madame Imelda in an already-stellar audience!
Thanks to Louis Claparols for this stolen shot of MGP at work!
That's us in the background!
Jenni Epperson of Philippine Daily Inquirer aiming her camera while Jessica Yang cruised by.
Tim Yap came a little late - looking "Supreme" in a sleek white suit with Valera-inspired embellishment
Backstage scenario with model's lineup written on a very-gay, fluo pink board paper.
Our girl Shiela took the opportunity to have a shot with Tessa after the show.
Moi with living legend Aureo Alonzo.
Our other girl Grace, making pa-cute with Tim Yap. Love the embellished blazer!
Couldn't let this pass without making chuva with Her Chuvaness, Cecile Zamora Van Straten.
Imeldific all the way - with Sheree Gotuaco.
The collection will be available at all Freeway stores nationwide beginning October 15. All items will have their own gift packaging, a swing tag of Valera’s bio and a “Valera” signature on chosen styles.