Ben Farrales, the Dean of the Philippine Fashion industry and a fashion icon in his own right, received an unforgettable tribute—an outpouring of love from friends and fans of fashion at the Makati Shangri-la Manila.
Friends of Mang Ben, as he is lovingly called, led by business woman and agriculture advocate Dr. Milagros Ong-How, staged Alta Moda Farrales, a fashion show in the grand style. Live music was provided by the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Olivier Ochanine with first class vocals from Bituin Escalante. The real stars of the show, however, were the legendary designer’s creations spanning the 1970s to the 1990s.
Around 30 models and beauty queens including Sara Jane Paez, Izza Gonzalez, Marina Benipayo, Gem Padilla, Patty Bettita, Annette Coronel and Dez Verdadero gave life to Farrales’ creations. Famous personalities from the fashion and entertainment industries as well as society and media celebrities were present at the affair. And though the clothes were classic, they thrilled and mesmerized like new.
The show was divided into three parts, with “Pais Tropicale”—a visual delight of island-living fashion, highlighting swimsuits, lounge wear and cocktail outfits with tropical island moods—taking the lead. Blushing colors, blooms, flouncy skirts and cut-outs all came together to spell fun. Music-wise, the vibrant song, “Da Coconut Nut” introduced the portion, upping the excitement, and setting pulses racing with all the color and dash.
The second part, “Moda Maynila,” showcased the smart, sophisticated and elegant Farrales couture. Here, the draped gowns that the designer is famous for, plus his chic, contemporary and cosmopolitan fashion took center stage. Fluid lines and simplicity that spelled “classic” ruled the ramp. The music was lively, sometimes playful.
The third and final part, “Farrales Filipiñiana,” was alternately exotic and graceful. Muslim-inspired gowns, traditional ternos and Maria Claras brought back the glorious days of high fashion. Two wedding gowns were the pieces de resistance and deserved to be the grand finale. The designer’s signature painstaking attention to detail was very much in evidence in this final suite. Beading, embroidery, special cuts and contours showed why Farrales is peerless in this field.
Special friends like Dr. Mila How gave glittering testimonials, expressing admiration, love and undying support for their beloved Mang Ben. Mellie Ablaza, Nellie Bengzon, Tina Carlos, Danny Dolor, Noli Han, Fortune Ledesma, Chito Macapagal, Vicky Magadia, Helen Ong, Joy Roxas, Mita Rufino and Chichi Salas also poured their hearts out for their dear friend. At the end of the show, Mang Ben’s friends went up the stage to serenade him with “Minamahal Kita.”
The Dean of Philippine Fashion had no choice but to give in to his emotions as he sobbed with tears of gratitude and joy.
Proceeds of the show will go to Ben Farrales’ foundation, the Congregacion Del Santisimo Nombre Del Niño Jesus.