Filipino fashion designers have conquered the beauty pageant scene and dressed celebrities at A-list events like the Globes, Grammys, Emmys, and Cannes. But alas, the Oscars and The Met Gala have proven stubbornly resistant to their charms. Here’s to hoping that a Filipino-made gown will soon knock these events off, just like Pitoy Moreno’s creation did for Rita Moreno.
Over its 95-year history, here’s a look at the few times Filipino fashion conquered the red carpet for the most prestigious movie award an actor can have.
Let’s start with a vet: Monique Lhuillier is the ultimate Oscars fashion guru, having crafted show-stopping looks for a multitude of stars, including Elizabeth Banks (2019), Mandy Moore (2011), Regina King (2019), and Kirsten Stewart (2010). Her latest Hollywood hit was at the 2022 Academy Awards, where the fabulous Marlee Matlin waltzed down the red carpet in a jaw-dropping red gown designed by the brilliant Cebuana fashionista.
This fashion sensation has been rocking the international style scene, making a huge splash at the 2016 Academy Awards by dressing the award-winning director Ronnie del Carmen (and his lovely wife Tess del Carmen) for Pixar’s Inside Out, of which he won Best Animated Feature and Best Original Screenplay. He also decked out Matthew Libatique, a Best Cinematography nominee for A Star Is Born starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, at the 2019 ceremony. And let’s not forget when he dressed Janne Tyldum, wife of the Best Director nominee Morten Tyldum, for the 2015 event. This designer knows how to bring glamour to the biggest nights in Hollywood.
It was inevitable that one day, a Francis Libiran masterpiece would make an appearance at the Oscars. That day came at the 24th Annual AIDS Foundation Oscars Party in 2016, where Nikki Reed, known for her role in Twilight, wore a stunning creation by Francis Libiran. The designer was overjoyed and commented that his ultimate aim was to make his home country of the Philippines proud, so every time his designs are featured in Hollywood, it’s a win for the country.
There’s no denying Michael Cinco’s status as a design superstar. A resident of couture, he has created outfits for some of the biggest names in the industry, including Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, and Rihanna. His impressive clientele also includes pop sensation Britney Spears, who rocked one of his stunning couture designs to Elton John’s Oscars afterparty during the 85th Academy Awards in 2013.
Let’s end the list with the one that started it all: Pitoy Moreno. Rita Moreno (no relation) was a trailblazer back in 1962, making history as the first Latina actress to snatch up an Academy Award for her role in West Side Story, all while dazzling in a stunning gown crafted by the late designer Pitoy Moreno. More than half a century later, the timeless black-and-gold dress with a few modern twists added to the ensemble made a triumphant comeback on the Oscars red carpet, with Rita wowing the crowds once again.
Header image courtesy of Getty Images