The Shangri-La Makati last Saturday evening was graced by Manila’s elite, exquisitely dressed and in fine spirits as they set out to celebrate an evening “where fashion and benevolence come together.”
Gala co-chair Tessa Prieto-Valdes fluttered soundlessly across the room, her salmon-colored cut-out platforms soft against the carpet (though her presence was loud and unmistakeable as ever), as she welcomed all her guests—loyal patrons, friends and supporters of a worthy cause.
“I want you all to get smashed… so that you’ll become more generous,” she quipped.
Now on its sixth year, the Red Charity Gala has become a staple in social events.
Headed by Prieto-Valdes and Kaye Tinga—ladies who, as mentioned by the gala’s first featured designer Dennis Lustico in Lifestyle Asia’s September issue, have “a heart of gold and platinum connections”—the gala is a grand fundraiser for the Philippine Red Cross and the Assumption HS Batch ’81 Foundation.
With numerous sponsors and patrons and Manila’s wealthiest on the guest list, it is an extravagant operation, and one that does not go without preparation.
Champagne and “Cointreau-politans” kept the room buzzing with lively chatter before the main event. Leading to the ballroom was a wall of fresh pink roses with tags that read “Every rose is a thousand pesos more from Downy to Red Cross.” A photo booth and separate photo mural ensured that guests had their share of captured memories.
“Sabi ko Red Cross… so I’ll wear red!” exclaimed one guest as she explained her outfit of choice for the evening. Amidst the numerous red dresses and glittering ensembles, the sleeved “suit” gown made a notable appearance. Donned by several including Lucy Torres-Gomez, this simple style turned many heads with its feminine take on a very masculine fashion.
Full black drapes and a dramatically lit Rizal Ballroom served as background to the evening’s dinner, auction, and much-awaited Philippine Fashion show from this year’s featured designer, Jesus “Jojie” Lloren.
This year marks the first release of the gala’s official magazine, cREDo, as well as the first year they will be featuring a Philippines-based designer once again.
In past galas, the choice for featured designer has consistently been one who became famous abroad, from Furne One, Michael Cinco, Cary Santiago to Ezra Santos (save for the gala’s first featured designer, Dennis Lustico).
As Jojie Lloren joins these names, he also marks a shift in gala history as he, unlike previous gala designers, is currently based here in the Philippines.
A staple in the Filipino fashion scene, the B.S. Clothing Technology Graduate from the University of the Philippines Diliman has headed two major fashion organizations, the Young Designers Guild and the Fashion Design Council of the Philippines; has served as mentor on Project Runway Philippines; and regularly designs for Rustan’s ready-to-wear collection, Jill and Luna.
In 1998 he won the Philippine Young Designers Competition and subsequently earned a scholarship at renowned school of haute couture Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de La Couture Parisienne.
He is known for his impeccable tailoring and pieces that appear simple but are “technically intricate.”
In an interview with Inquirer’s Alex Y. Vergara, Lloren noted that his style is very different from the glitz and glitter of past gala designers.
“People who come to me aren’t expecting me to make fully beaded numbers… They know my aesthetics—simple and hopefully clean, well-constructed clothes,” said Lloren.
But given the nature of the event, the designer was well aware of the need to show something spectacular and wow the audience.
For his collection, Lloren decided to focus on interpreting the masters. From Juan Luna to Pacita Abad, the style of each piece was just as distinct as those of the artists and works that inspired them.
In her expert opinion of Lloren’s work, Ma. Victoria T. Herrera noted, “Lloren’s proposition for each dress in relation to an artwork varies… layers of translucent fabric achieve the effect of Fernando Amorsolo’s shimmering light… and Sanso’s mysterious landscapes… Silhouettes of the dress simulate the sinuous lines of Botong Francisco or the ragged scavenger that is BenCab’s Sabel.”
As with all of Lloren’s work, the tailoring was exquisite and the experimental lines and cuts a delight to examine. One walk down the runway was not enough to view each piece.
Hiding beneath a button-down peplum shirt was a shimmering gold number. What seemed to be plain black cocktail dress showed a cascade of surprises as the model turned to reveal a sleek tapering cut down the back and a festive bouquet of ruffles.
The 40-piece collection was certainly a treat to behold, with its eclectic use of fabric, colors and silhouettes. No two pieces were the same.
As Kaye Tinga put it, Lloren is “a prime example of Filipino creativity,” as worthy of interpreting the masters as they of being translated.