President Rodrigo Duterte set a simple tone for his inaugural State of the Nation Address (Sona) to Congress by ordering the event stripped of its trademark swank and opulence, but that did not deter guests from making an effort to look memorable as they entered the House of Representatives yesterday.
Actress Gretchen Barretto was among the first to arrive with partner Antonio “Tonyboy” Cojuangco in a black and off-white ensemble from Inno Sotto that apparently took its cue from Christian Dior’s postwar New Look.
Barretto donned a fitted long-sleeved blouse accentuated with a black ribbon as belt, a dramatic black ankle-length skirt and pointy black heels.
Sen. Loren Legarda posed for selfies in a fuchsia tunic coat with okir-inspired embroidery galvanized by Maranao motif that was made by Len Cabili of Filip+Inna. She carried a crocheted bag from Bauang, La Union province, and wore shoes by Tish Sevilla.
Sen. Nancy Binay was in a midnight blue knee-length dress by Randy Ortiz. She carried an ikat-designed structured bag and wore black sling backs.
Sen. Grace Poe wore an off-white, knee-length dress with sampaguita blooms embroidered on the bodice. Her dress was made by Paul Cabral, who also created the outfits she had worn to previous presidential addresses to Congress.
The instruction to wear “business casual attire” was handed down by the leadership of the House days before. It was implied that Mr. Duterte himself ordered the budget scaled down and guests told to leave the posh gowns and designer clothes at home.
In the past, many of the prominent women who attended the annual event considered it an opportunity to face off in fashion feathers, to the consternation of conservative observers.
This time, instead of long gowns, women guests were asked to don pants or knee-length skirts.
Sen. Pia Cayetano came in a somber black midi-length business suit that flattered her svelte figure.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros came in a body-hugging short-sleeved white dress with a delicate lace bodice and nude heels.
Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres Gomez entered the House also wearing a black body-hugging shift dress with short sleeves and nude heels. But Gomez appeared to be headed to her office to change for the event.
New Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez got away with a fabulous Cary Santiago pink terno with a knee-length skirt. It featured a peplum and an attractive cabbage rose on the left side of the bodice.
Former Sen. Nikki Coseteng wore a floor-length vintage Patis Tesoro piña jusi caftan accented by a turquoise choker. She said it was 25 years old and had seen action since her days as a legislator.
Sen. Leila de Lima wore an eye-catching earth-toned blouse and skirt ensemble topped with her signature shawl.
Environment Secretary Gina Lopez was French chic in a bottle green business suit she wore with a magenta shawl and gold strappy wedges.
New Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos covered a strapless knee-length sheath with a piña jusi blouse with puffed sleeves.
Legislative spouses who previously wowed in the red carpet still made their marked entrance yesterday.
Heart Evangelista, wife of Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, wore an off-the-rack off-white business suit from Massimo Dutti that she accessorized with pearl earrings and a white Hermes clutch.
Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano, wife of Sen. Alan Cayetano, wore a richly embroidered blouse over an A-line black skirt, pearls and open-toe heels.
Red carpet favorite Tootsie Angara, wife of Sen. Edgardo “Sonny” Angara Jr., wore a vintage green knee-length terno with a bodice of reworked Muslim fabric and floral appliques.
Former actress Dina Bonnevie, wife of Rep. Deogracias Savellano of Ilocos Sur, donned a gray printed blazer on top of an electric blue dress while a glowing Bocaue Mayor Joni Villanueva, wife of Cibac Rep. Sherwin Tugna, wore a simple off-white blouse with stark black embroidery on the left chest and simple back pants.
Businesswoman and Inquirer Lifestyle columnist Audrey Zubiri, wife of Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, was among the few who kept to the Filipiniana theme of previous presidential addresses with a knee-length Maria Clara-inspired outfit.