The Philippines – King of Couture

Philippine National Artist for Fashion Design Jose “Pitoy” Moreno, also known as the “Fashion Czar of Asia”, was honoured late last year with a tribute gala show at the Isla Ballroom of Edsa Shangri-La Hotel on Ortigas Avenue, Metro Manila.

With a career spanning five decades, and including 43 international fashion shows, he has dressed a diverse list of clientele from Philippine First Ladies to Asian and European royalty, from local and international socialites to government dignitaries.

Moreno is recognised for elevating the status of  “Filipiniana” gowns and menswear – with their intricate beadwork, embroidery and hand paintings, many of them in indigenous fabrics – to the heights of couture fashion, fit for formal events in presidential palaces and diplomatic residences as well as high-end society weddings and receptions.

A retrospective


The tribute gala was organised by Metro Society, media conglomerate ABS-CBN, Lifestyle Network and Binibining Pilipinas Charities, the organisation that looks for the Philippine representative of international beauty pageants such as Miss Universe and Miss International. (Moreno made many of the national costumes that Filipina beauty titlists have worn in these global competitions.)

The event had two parts: an exhibition of 50 of Moreno’s creations, lent by some of Manila’s most illustrious society doyennes and on display in the hotel’s ballroom foyer; and a fashion show attended by 600 guests, who watched 75 celebrity models and former beauty queens walk down the 60-foot (18-metre) runway wearing 150 of Moreno’s couture pieces.

“Creating a tribute show for a designer like Pitoy Moreno is a huge task, based on his stature and body of work,” says Bebeth Timbol, marketing manager at ABS-CBN. “We had to create a presentation that would encapsulate a 60-plus year career and also honour him as a pioneer of Philippine fashion. We had hundreds, if not more, dresses, gowns and menswear items to choose from. To help bring the story forward, these pieces had to represent the many facets of Pitoy as a designer.”

Appropriately, the show was divided into five segments: Pitoy as a Filipino designer, couturier, purveyor of beauty (for the beauty queens), his muses, and the bridal collection. Each collection highlighted one facet of his skill and versatility, showing Moreno as a true Filipino artist. Timbol adds that one of the many challenges in staging the show was bringing together all “the personalities, celebrities and performers”.

“We wanted this to be star-studded. For starters, Pitoy Moreno has a long-standing relationship with Binibining Pilipinas Charities. As such we were fortunate to have been able to include 15 of the [beauty pageant] ladies to wear the beautiful ternos [distinctive Philippine dresses], including 2010 Miss Universe 4th runner up Venus Raj and 2011 Miss Universe 3rd runner up Shamcey Supsup. On the celebrity front, we worked on casting two of Manila’s up-and-coming young actresses and two of our most handsome actors and biggest stars. Actress and singer KC Concepcion took on hosting duties for the night.”

The show’s musical numbers were also outstanding with the 60-piece Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra doing a remarkable job. The orchestra also provided the musical backdrop for the country’s pop singers, a number of whom performed that night.

All in the details

The one-night event took six months to plan and execute. In its final stages, there were 600 working staff composed of event organisers, production crew, a TV crew (as the gala was to be shown on local TV) and the hotel banquet team. The event was able to garner solid corporate sponsorship from Ford, HSBC, Samsung Smart TV, Ayala Land Premier, San Miguel Premium All-Malt Beer, L’Oreal Professional and Heaven by Nestlé Ice Cream, among other companies.

“For Edsa Shangri-La, Manila, this event stood out for several reasons. Mainly, this was a historic social occasion distinguished by its subject and raison d’être: the only National Artist for Fashion Design who has staged international fashion shows in places as diverse as Moscow and Guangdong, Paris and Rome,” says hotel general manager, Henry Lee.

The hotel pulled out all the stops to ensure that the event was flawlessly executed from the planning stage to main production. “Fire & Life Safety engineers worked closely with the stage and lights production team; the housekeepers in charge of the banquet facilities cleaned, vacuumed every corner and rolled out a pristine red carpet measuring approximately 180 feet [55 metres] from the lower concourse escalator to the ballroom foyer,” says Lee.

“The Banquets team wore a black tie uniform with bow tie, black vest and white gloves. The Culinary team headed by Executive Chef Warren Brown offered a heavy cocktail setup of five live buffet stations showcasing signature items from each of the hotel’s speciality restaurants: roast prime rib (HEAT), Peking duck (Summer Palace), soba and tempura (Senju), handmade pasta (Paparazzi), and a live dessert station with highlights of baked almond tart with crème brûlée on top, toasted coconut and milk chocolate bar and crushed raspberry compote. A four-foot-wide by three-foot-high ice carving with the words ‘Metro Society’ greeted guests at the entrance of the cocktail buffet. Belvedere (under Moet Hennessy) provided special cocktails and beverages for the event.”

After the show, a party continued at the adjacent Palawan room with the focus on a dessert buffet and ice cream by Nestle Heaven.


EVENT Jose “Pitoy” Moreno – A Tribute Gala

VENUE Isla Ballroom, Edsa Shangri-La Hotel

DATE November 21, 2011


ORGANISER Metro Society, ABS-CBN, Lifestyle Network and Binibining Pilipinas Charities


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