At the mall, a glimpse of the timeless work of Slim | Lifestyle.INQ
Mark Higgins (center) with SM designer Tonichi Nocom and Slim’s niece Frances Lim
Mark Higgins (center) with SM designer Tonichi Nocom and Slim’s niece Frances Lim

At the mall, a glimpse of the timeless work of Slim

Mark Higgins (center) with SM designer Tonichi Nocom and Slim’s niece Frances Lim
Mark Higgins (center) with SM designer Tonichi Nocom and Slim’s niece Frances Lim

Fashion and design enthusiasts recently had a glimpse of the amazing life and work of Salvacion Lim “Slim” Higgins at SM Aura Premier, the first showcase in a mall celebrating the late fashion designer’s visionary work from a career spanning over four decades.

Curated by son and artist Mark Lewis Higgins, the exhibition featured a breathtaking selection of gowns and archival photographs highlighting the preeminent designer’s creative genius and legacy.

Reproduction of a gown created in 1978
Reproduction of a gown created in 1978

In June, Slim was honored posthumously as National Artist for Design. The Order of National Artists Award is the highest recognition given to Filipino individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts and letters. She is the only Filipino designer with gowns in the archives of both the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Hand-beaded translucent crystals and pearls on a newly restored gown from 1967, and modeled by Maja Salvador for a magazine cover
Hand-beaded translucent crystals and pearls on a newly restored gown from 1967, and modeled by Maja Salvador for a magazine cover

The exhibition opening was graced by art advocate Irene Marcos-Araneta, who was joined by friends of the designer’s family, members of the fashion and arts communities, and Slim’s Fashion & Arts School faculty and alumni.

Slim’s alumnus Albert Andrada (right) with fellow designer Barge Ramos
Slim’s alumnus Albert Andrada (right) with fellow designer Barge Ramos

Guests were seen admiring the collection of gowns and dresses which showcased Slim’s enduring signature style. They included a reproduction of a white fringed terno created for first lady Leonila Garcia in the late 1950s featuring the original lace trim; a reproduction of a Siamese-inspired coat and gown created in 1956; a newly restored gown from 1967 which was modeled by Maja Salvador for the cover of Mega magazine in August; a reproduction of a pale magenta terno with a cascade of sunburst pleats created in the early 1970s; and a reproduction of a spectacular red gown pleated to perfection created in 1978.

The exhibition also featured a selection of photographs featuring gowns and ternos worn by the fashion icons of their time: Edith Nakpil Rabat, Chona Recto Kasten, Lily de las Alas Padilla and Diana Jean Lopez.

Irene Marcos-Araneta (center) with SM’s Millie Dizon and Slim’s son Mark Lewis Higgins
Irene Marcos-Araneta (center) with SM’s Millie Dizon and Slim’s son Mark Lewis Higgins

Born in Legaspi, Albay, in 1920, Slim studied fine arts at the University of Santo Tomas under National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco, but never finished her studies due to the outbreak of WWII. In 1947 she opened the Slim’s atelier, and in 1960 founded Slim’s Fashion & Arts School with her sister Purificacion Lim, which is today headed by Mark Higgins.

As the oldest fashion institution in the country, it has mentored tens of thousands of designers all over the Philippines, including Oskar Peralta, Joe Salazar, Cesar Gaupo, Oliver Tolentino, Albert Andrada, Joey Samson, Martin Bautista and Michael Cinco.