Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ramon Valera: First Filipino National Artist for Fashion Design

Marti and I were on our usual Saturday stroll at Powerplant Mall and went to our favorite place, National Bookstore to browse and buy books. As I waited for my son to reserve the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, I perused the nonfiction shelves looking to buy my next read after Malcolm Gladwell's provocative novel, Outliers when I came upon an out-of-place hardbound: Valera.

photo from Google Images

The life of this self-made fashion icon is, in a word, phenomenal! It was only fitting that his unparalleled talent be lauded by being recognized in 1996 as the very first National Artist for Fashion Design.

According to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts:

The contribution of Ramon Valera, whose family hails from Abra, lies in the tradition of excellence of his works, and his committment to his profession, performing his magical seminal innovations on the Philippine terno.
Valera is said to have given the country its visual icon to the world via the terno. In the early 40s, Valera produced a single piece of clothing from a four-piece ensemble consisting of a blouse, skirt, overskirt, and long scarf. He unified the components of the baro't saya into a single dress with exaggerated bell sleeves, cinched at the waist, grazing the ankle, and zipped up at the back. Using zipper in place of hooks was already a radical change for the country's elite then. Dropping the panuelo--the long folded scarf hanging down the chest, thus serving as the Filipina's gesture of modesty--from the entire ensemble became a bigger shock for the women then. Valera constructed the terno's butterfly sleeves, giving them a solid, built-in but hidden support. 
photo by Kutitap.com
Imagine, Don Ramon turning down no less than Cristobal Balenciaga and Queen Sirikit to design abroad! He said that if they really wanted to buy his creations then they would have to buy it from the Philippines!

What an inspiration! That's why I'll be creating another crochet accessory inspired by the designs of Don Ramon Valera. Watch for it!

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