Text and photos by Dexter R. Matilla
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:05:00
THE MUCH-ANTICIPATED Ramon Valera-inspired holiday collection from the Freeway National Artist Series was finally launched during an intimate gathering at The Row at Glorietta 5, Makati.
Imelda Romualdez-Marcos was special guest in the event hosted by Tessa Prieto-Valdes. The former first lady is, of course, one of the few to have worn Valera’s designs, and Marcos could only testify to the genius of the first recipient National Artist for Fashion Design.
“He’s not just a designer and an artist, but a scholar,” Marcos said.
According to her, before accompanying her late husband, former President Ferdinand Marcos, in state visits, she would inform Valera of where she would be going and “he’d go out of his way to study about the place.”
But of course, Valera is credited for modernizing the terno, reviving the traje de boda—or the Maria Clara—and then removing the panuelo or scarf that covered the woman’s bosom. In a way, this move helped usher in a brave new era in Filipino fashion, the likes of which have never been seen before or since. It certainly is an interesting thought how things could have turned out were it not for Valera.
But while initially deemed immodest, the look was eventually accepted with the likes of Mrs. Claro M. Recto and Mrs. Primitivo Lovina as its models.
Born Aug. 31, 1912, to a well-to-do family, Ramon Oswald Valera had always been a natural in fashion design. His mother, Pilar Oswald, who was married to Melecio, would often notice that the dolls on their piano would be dressed in new clothes.
He was named National Artist for Fashion Design in 2006.
Others who shared their views and experiences with the late Valera were his niece Peching Zulueta-Gomez, his head assistant Tente Wilwayco, fashion designer Aureo Alonzo and National Museum of the Philippines curator Nick Legazpi Jr.
Guests were treated to a rare, one-night-only display of original Ramon Valera gowns at the ground floor of Glorietta 5. The gowns, marked by sheer elegance and immortal beauty, were lent especially for the event by owners—the heirs of Elvira Manahan, Margarita Romualdez, Susie Bayot Ortigas, Adelaida Mendoza, Maritess Pineda, Evelyn Teehankee, Fe Leyson Qua and Caridad Velez Leyson.
The collection itself was unveiled in a ’60s-theme fashion show with models wearing woven dresses, tunics, blouses and sublimation tees that feature designs inspired by Valera’s legendary creations.
To see more of the collection, visit http://www.freeway.net.ph /product/collection/national-ar tist-collectors-series