When the maiden edition of the Philippine Fashion Circle Awards rolled out on Monday at Okada Manila, it officially succeeded in becoming the first major event in the local couture scene since the world was ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic. At the venue, arranged theater style to accommodate a long and very much missed runway, both guests and honorees could hardly believe they were watching not just one but three sets of fashion shows in the flesh.
As mid-afternoon evolved into early evening, that familiar, upbeat in catwalk music got louder and louder, with the stage lights shining brighter and brighter to spotlight the ever-present and compelling talent of the Filipino fashion designer.
The first two fashion shows presented the latest works of the Designer Circle Philippines' neophyte and seasoned member designers, respectively. Undoubtedly, both generations were excited to let go of two years' worth of pent-up creativity, wowing the very stylish crowd with their obras.
But what definitely brought the house down was the Young Designers Circle Competition, where 15 promising artists impressively showed the results of their challenge to fashion an ensemble, each using only indigenous materials.
With such original entries — from a cowboy suit made with leather and Barong Tagalog fabrics to an immensely intricate Inabel mermaid gown — Don Peter Moises' ingenious inverted basked skirt design using Abel Iloco and Ibaan unquestioningly won the grand prize. Avant-garde yet still sophisticatedly simple and its own way, perhaps this work of art can snag a national costume competition win for the Philippines' current batch of global beauty titlists.
Of course, in between these inspiring runway shows, Philippine Fashion Circles Awards (PFCA) founders Virgie Monton and Richard Hiñola proceeded with their longtime dream of honoring the movers and shakers of Philippine couture. Those gone too soon and still with us today, beginning with a touching posthumous tribute to the pillars of the industry.
Respect and fond memories filled the ballroom as a montage of beloved and revered greats flashed on the big screen — National Artist for Fashion Pitoy Moreno, also known as “Asia's Fashion Czar,” Ben Farrales, the “Dean of Philippine Fashion;” as well as the industry's most recent losses among them, Ito Curata, Criselda Lontok and even fashion photographer Raymund Issac.
The next batch of honorees comprised the many advocates who have helped sustain the renown of Philippine fashion, be it on the local or international stage to this very day.
Media personalities naturally gathered a formidable lineup of honorees for constantly spotlighting and chronicling significant leaps in the fashion industry. The Daily Tribune's managing editor and concurrent lifestyle editor Dinah Ventura led the PCFA awardees for Media Excellence along with CNN's Pauline Verzosa.
To The Manila Times Lifestyle's delighted surprise, however, editor Tessa Mauricio-Arriola who had been announced among the media honorees before the event, was given a separate award in the culminating set of presentations. Her Times family congratulates her on her recognition as PFCA's Philippine Fashion Icon For Lifestyle Journalism.
Likewise honored in the set were hair and make-up luminaries James Cooper and Bambbi Fuentes, shoe designer Jojo Bragais, Angola Consul and Best Dressed Women of the Philippines Chairperson Helen Ong, as well as The Manila Times Lifestyle columnist Becky Garcia, who, like her editor, is ever loyal to Philippine couture.
Finally, 12 beloved style icons were duly honored with the Outstanding Achievement in Fashion Design Award, namely, Renee Salud, Albert Andrada, Amir Sali, Dobie Aranda, Dong Omaga Diaz, Edwin Uy, Francis Libiran, Johnny Abad, Jojie Lloren, Jun Escario, Oskar Peralta and Philip Rodriguez.
Much applauded was Lifetime Achievement awardee Frederick Peralta who unfortunately suffered a stroke in 2018 and has since been unable to bring his magical ideas from sketchbook to life. Nevertheless, he attended the event with unbridled happiness, basking in the love of age-old friends and peers.
Indeed, Peralta and his fellow awardees are the very personalities and talents who deserve the country's gratitude for collectively and ultimately forming and upholding the proud existence of Philippine fashion as we know it today.
Congratulations to the PFCA founders for a job well done!
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