‘On their lighter side’—ambassadors and their wives rock the fashion runway | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

There was non-stop hooting and cheering from Manila’s café society and diplomatic community at the Diamond Hotel ballroom during “The Cruise Collection,” a fashion show featuring Rustan’s clothes. The Ambassadors’ Spouses organized the show for its charity ChildHope.

It wasn’t about the clothes that got audience excited, but the people who wore them. The diplomatic spouses and some ambassadors gamely strutted down the runway featuring classic summer looks.

“We normally see them on their guard. I hope you see them on a lighter side,” said the host,  organizer and Rustan personal shopper Leif-Erik Hannikainen.

Rustan’s creative director Inno Sotto and his team pre-selected the clothes and allowed the diplomatic spouses to choose the apparel that would enhance their personal style and figure.

As for the ambassadors, “We’re just doing what we’re told,” said Swiss Ambassador Ivo Sieber, who gamely wore a red checkered shirt over light blue bermudas. He requested a denim blazer to de-emphasize his silhouette. Nonetheless, he took it off and swaggered like a pro.

All sizes

Call it a reality fashion show as the ambassadors’ wives came in all sizes. The heights ranged from the petite models such as Mesdames Yan Donko from Austria, Indira Kumar from India and Caecilia Legowo of Indonesia, to the statuesque and imperious Madame Silvana Novelli Fornari of Italy.

“Don’t you think this is close to my style?” asked Ms. Fornari, who initially wore a red sleeveless top over a khaki skirt and a black garterized belt. In cocktails, she is usually in a similar classic silhouette.

The full-figured Madame Silvia Gonzales Perez of Venezuela gracefully carried a frothy brown bustier gown with delicate fringes, which the audience loved. Then there was the athletic Madame Paulina Mayorga of Chile, who wore an all-black tailored outfit and a red strapless draped gown, and the buxomy Madame Elena Kudasheva of Russia, who chose a flattering one-shoulder gown accentuated by a flower.

The show started with casuals—lots of colorful tops teamed with white pants and loose-fitting dresses in solid colors. The prints ranged from floral to ethnic. The striped yellow dress with a dirndl skirt worn by Madame Eleonora Hannikainen of Finland suggested a ‘50s retro vibe. Madame Cathy Thomley wore a red and white foliage printed top so evocative of Canada’s flag colors.

In the formal section, some spouses chose to wear pretty dresses, such as Mesdames Kumar whose blue-green leaf-patterned dress flattered her skin tone; Leanna Brueckner of Australia in a red dress with kangaroo pockets; Audhild Solem of Israel in a cobalt wrap top; and Maite Perez of Cuba in  a metallic dress embossed with rose designs. For a dramatic finale, Madame Fornari showed off her dramatic flair in a pleated and draped gown with ruching as a back detail.

Fun part

The fun part were the males who were into down-age dressing. Finnish Ambassador Heikki Hannikainen took to cargo shorts. (His son, Erik, wore a blue-and-white striped summer suit with a  turquoise tie and a red belt, which looked striking on stage.) Israeli Ambassador Zvi-Aviner Vapni gamely carried a leather mailman’s bag.  Italian Luca Fornari was shod in his signature red shoes.

Iraqui Ambassador Waddi Batti Hanna Al-Batti looked preppy in his campus cardigan. Norwegian Ambassador Knut Solem wore a pink shirt with pastel blue shorts and red shoes topped with a straw fedora.

“Do you think this is a good idea?” he queried.

Not only was it a good idea, but the whole event was quite refreshing from the norm.