Celebrated fashion designer Jose “Pitoy” Moreno, one of the earliest advocates of the Maria Clara, died on Monday at the age of 87.
His grandson Paul Jason Cruz first confirmed the news with GMA Network’s prime time newscast “24 Oras” later that day without giving further details on the cause of death.
The last time Moreno’s health had been reported was in 2014 when he was hospitalized for pneumonia.
On Tuesday, it was made known that the master of formal Filipiniana had been in and out of the hospital as of late and died of cardiac arrest. Moreno studied fine arts at the University of the Philippines Diliman and popularized the baro, saya, panuelo and tapis, which together comprise the classic Maria Clara.
Hailed as Asia’s fashion czar, Moreno last appeared in public at a grand fashion tribute for him at Edsa Shangri-La Manila in 2011. It was in this decade that the designer slowed down running his atelier in Malate owing to poor health.
With an illustrious career that spans over 50 years, Moreno’s fashion designs had been exhibited at the World’s Fair in Seattle, Washington and New York City. His work appeared on the pages of fashion magazines such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Holiday, and Le Figaro, where he introduced the words jusi, piña and lepanto to world fashion.
Prominent personalities who admired and wore Moreno’s creations, which bore inimitable beadwork, embroidery as well as hand-paintings, included beauty queens, most first ladies of the Philippines and the United States—Nancy Reagan and Pat Nixon —and the world’s royalty such as Queen Sirikit of Thailand, Queen Margarretta of Bulgaria and Princess Margaret of Britain to name a few.
Moreno will also be remembered as the first president of the Philippine Couture Association, the very first association of fashion designers in Manila.
In 2009, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared Moreno the second National Artist for Fashion Design after Ramon Valera in 2006.
However, awarding on this batch—which included theater proponent Cecile Guidote Alvarez and filmmaker Carlo J. Caparas—was met with protest and controversy that the Supreme Court was forced to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the conferment. The TRO has not been lifted up to now.
As of press time, details of his wake and funeral have yet to be announced.