‘Strictly formal’ gets redefined



Suddenly last Saturday night, there was a distinct game change in the way high society dressed, behaved and became civic-minded. It was the annual Red Cross Ball, but the invites called it simply Red, and Manila’s 400 most stylish were ready to rewrite the rules of fashion and civilized fun.

RUFFA Gutierrez in Elie Saab

One look at Tessa Valdez and Kaye Tiñga’s severely chic black Cary Santiago gowns, and you knew the night would be more about the personalities and not the designer gowns. Some said it was feng shui that the fashion stage was pointed east (it was northbound for years) or that Santiago was going to distill his haute couture into something completely different.

‘Couture de force’

Santiago did not disappoint, and delivered a “couture de force” collection of pleated, folded and draped soft origami in black and white satin. With his wherewithal, he has thrown out all excess, beadwork and gimmickry. Santiago’s new purity was soft yet structured, refined yet sensual—a grand departure from his signature style that was over the top, copied by every other designer in town.

KAYE Tiñga in Pepito Albert tamburin. Right, Alex and Marixi Prieto

As if it was collectively decided, the belles of the ball you see in these pages are redefining how to dress in strictly formal. They are elegant, sexy and confident, three attributes that are hard to string together in the same sentence. But portraits do not lie, so look at these ladies signaling  the dawn of a new age of ease, of  the return of actually having fun when going to a gala. In simplicity, there is great beauty.

MOD KIMONA Rhoda Aldenese in evening pants

The International Red Cross Ball celebrates its 55th year this year—definitely the pinnacle of goodwill and high society in one enchanting evening. This truly distinguished experience is steeped in tradition, with society gathering together to raise funds to honor the Red Cross and celebrate the triumph of the human spirit.

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  • Patty Smith


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