Latest Stories


Philippine fashion invades London


CRISTINA Zobel de Ayala, Mia Borromeo, Fernando Zobel de Ayala and Patsy Zobel de Ayala

A chronicle of unique experiences, unforgettable places and happy occasions that celebrate life . . .

It began with a phone call last September. Ayala Foundation’s Fernando Zobel de Ayala shared the exciting news that Prospero World, a UK-based philanthropy advisory group, wanted to mount a Philippine Fashion Show in London in the spring in aid of Ayala’s Center of Excellence in Public Elementary Education (Centex) program. I was happy to become Manila project coordinator for the proposed charity gala event.

So began six months of frenetic communication with Prospero London’s dedicated team—Sita Schutt, Anna Louisa Psarras, Sandra Lauchner-Rothschild and Olivia Smart.

The fashion show was to have two elements: “models for a night”—bankers, financiers and other professionals who were willing to brave the catwalk to raise funds through sponsor pledges—and top models from the Philippines to showcase the couture collections.

The enthusiastic and selfless response from Filipino designers and labels was heartwarming. Bergamo, Cary Santiago, Jasper Garvida, Josie Natori, Jun Escario, Lesley Mobo, Lulu Tan Gan, Mich Dulce, Michael Cinco, Rajo Laurel, Randy Ortiz, Silk Cocoon and Wynn Wynn Ong all generously donated their time, talent and collections for the event.

CROWNPrince Pavlos of Greece, Elaine and Anto Marden, Crown Princess Marie-Chantal and friends

I enlisted veteran fashion director Jackie Aquino for the catwalk show. There would also be a Selling Salon featuring hats by award-winning milliner Mich Dulce, exotic handbags by Celestina, innovative piña accessories by Lulu Tan Gan and exquisite jewelry by Joyce Makitalo, Pepito Albert and Wynn Wynn Ong.

Through the very generous support of major sponsors Nokia and Credit Suisse, as well as Amdocs, Etihad Airways and Bank of Singapore, the dream became a reality.

Day 1

Off to London via Abu Dhabi, on the London Philippine Fashion Show’s official carrier, Etihad Airways. Living up to its reputation as one of the world’s most luxurious airlines, Etihad’s in-flight Arabic cuisine, impeccable service and special airport assistance were fabulous. Its Abu Dhabi lounge even offers complimentary treatments by the renowned Six Senses Spa, where I indulge in a blissful radiance facial.

AT THE AFTER-PARTY with Philip Mould and the Prospero Team: Sita Schutt, Sandra Lauchner-Rothschild, Veera Johnson and Anna Louisa Psarras

Our first day in London, we meet up with representatives of the Philippine Embassy led by Honorary Investment and Trade Representative Vic Casim, who kindly assist us throughout our stay. After we hit the ground running, it is nice to unwind in a cozy Italian dinner at San Lorenzo, organized by our gracious London host, Fernando Zobel de Ayala.

Day 2

Great waking up to perfect spring weather—clear blue skies and crisp, nippy air! Spent the morning sorting out all the clothes for the big show.

After a traditional English lunch of roast prime rib, Yorkshire pudding and strawberries and cream at Harrod’s Georgian Restaurant, we are suitably fortified to walk the charming streets of Chelsea. At Harrods, I can’t resist a quick stop at their Canine Shop that has everything to pamper your pet—from a spa to a sweets section with all kinds of doggie treats.

I love exploring the Chelsea Antiques Market (across the Old Town Hall on King’s Road) and Gray’s, with little nooks that stock all sorts of interesting finds, from steamer trunks to vintage jewelry and silver.

PEEK-A-BOO: Cary Santiago’s stunning collection of laser-cut gowns; inset, one of Lesley Mobo’s dreamy designs on the catwalk

That night, Prospero throws a welcome dinner for the designers, models and all the Manila and London teams to meet and mingle.

Day 3

In true Filipino style, Gail Alvarez and her son Anton host a delightful lunch for the Manila contingent at George, a discreet members club in Mayfair. Ours must be the  loudest table in the club! On the way over, I notice a fascinating giant egg sculpture in a lucite box, one of several I had seen scattered around central London. It turns out to be part of Faberge’s “Big Egg Hunt” for charity, featuring over 200 works by leading artists from around the world (the likes of architect Zaha Hadid, designer Tommy Hilfiger and local fashion house Mulberry).

That afternoon, we stop in to visit Philip Mould in his beautiful gallery on Dover Street, in the heart of London’s art market. A childhood friend of Fernando from boarding school days, the highly respected specialist in British art and Old Masters and resident expert on the BBC’s “Antiques Roadshow” had very kindly volunteered to conduct the live auction at the London Philippine Fashion Show.

Day 4

WITH “TEAM Manila” at San Lorenzo: models Valerie de los Santos, Justine Gabionza, Melissa Frye, Karina Cabiling, and Jackie Aquino and Fernando Zobel de Ayala

Today is D-Day. It also happens to be the day that H&M launches its Marni collection! Walking with my dear friend Maricris Brias to early morning Mass, I am amazed at the two-block queue that has formed on Kensington High Street as customers wait for the store to open its doors. Dying to get a glimpse of the collection, but would have to pass (sigh) as there are fittings, setting up and rehearsals scheduled all day.

Maricris is yet another example of the outstanding Bayanihan spirit—she herself shipped her beautifully crafted tinalak lighting fixtures and vases to London, giving Victoria House, the event venue, a unique Filipino touch.

There is such a mix of emotions at rehearsals. All that we have been preparing for the last six months would come to fruition that night. The air backstage is fully charged.

As Victoria House fills up over cocktails, it is lovely to catch up with old Manila friends who have come in full force to support the fundraising show: retired Jardine Davies Philippines head Percy Weatherall and wife Clara, former Cathay Pacific country head Richard Graham, and Manila regulars Elaine and Anto Marden. In the crowd of over 300, Marie-Chantal and Pavlos of Greece are an elegant presence on the front row.

The audience warmly cheers the stunning collections and models on stage. An auction follows, with Philip Mould working the crowd to a bidding frenzy. The enticing lots include luxury stays at Amanpulo and Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa, a necklace by Bea Valdes (as worn by Kate Moss on the cover of British Vogue’s September issue), and a private master class in personal communication with Robin Kermode (he recently played John Major in “The Iron Lady” opposite Meryl Streep).

Wynn Wynn Ong’s neckpiece “Las Islas Filipinas, Pearl of the Orient,” hand-sculpted to resemble Spanish lace with a baroque pearl pendant, fetches an impressive  7,000 euros!

The entire evening is a resounding success! In all, a net amount of 160,000 euros, (approximately P10 million) is raised directly for Centex. That translates to quality elementary education for 500 gifted but underprivileged children under Ayala Foundation’s pioneering educational program.

Day 5

What a journey this has been. I met and worked with so many amazing people along the way. After a few nerve-racking moments, I am deeply grateful that things fell perfectly into place for us last night. Not only did the event benefit such a worthy cause, but it also introduced London to the best of Filipino artistry and creativity. It was an honor and a blessing for me to have been part of “team Manila.”

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Ayala Foundation , Center of Excellence in Public Elementary Education (Centex) program , fashion , Fernando Zobel de Ayala , Philippine Fashion , Philippine Fashion Show , Prospero World , Travel

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  4. This is not just a farm
  5. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  6. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  7. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  8. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  9. Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  10. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  1. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  2. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  3. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  4. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  5. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  6. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  7. France makes work beyond 6 p.m. illegal
  8. Ever heard of HydroBob?
  9. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  10. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?


  • 14 killed in car bombing in Homs
  • 57-nation group plays key Ukraine monitoring role
  • French President Hollande’s top aide resigns
  • Japan to redesign Antarctic whale hunt after UN court ruling
  • Vietnam battles fatal measles outbreak
  • Sports

  • Pacquiao shorts in Bradley fight sold for P1.7M in LA auction
  • Ryu pitches Dodgers past Giants
  • Alonso sets the pace in Chinese GP practice
  • Heat seek Three-peat but Spurs, Pacers top seeds
  • Can Spurs get back at Heat? Can they survive West?
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Whoopi Goldberg debuts as marijuana columnist
  • ‘X-men’ director accused of sex assault on teen boy
  • Business

  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Oil prices mixed ahead of long Easter weekend
  • Technology

  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Filipinos #PrayForSouthKorea
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • DoH denies Filipino nurse no longer positive for MERS virus
  • WHO warns vs spread of MERS-Cov, urges vigilance in taking precautions
  • Last call for nominations to ’14 Presidential Awards
  • San Francisco business coalition slams proposed tax on sugary drinks
  • A ‘time-travel’ production of ‘Les Miserable’ at Stanford