MANILA, August 11, 2004 (STAR) By Ching M. Alano - Think Pinoy fashion and probably the first name that comes to mind is Pitoy Moreno. Who doesn’t know this man once hailed as Asia’s fashion czar? His collections have girdled the globe since the 1960s: Paris, Rome, London, Madrid, Barcelona, Athens, Sweden, Vienna, Moscow, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Honolulu, Teheran, Morocco, Tokyo, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, China, among other cities. He’s dressed up royalty, First Ladies, heads of state and assorted VIPs. The barely five-foot-tall Pitoy may as well have stood 10 feet tall as he wowed ’em all in shows here and abroad.
To salute the man who put the ...view middle of the document...
The tag came from a review that appeared in Honolulu Standard. A kababayan went up to them and said that if Jackie Kennedy had Oleg Cassini, we have Pitoy Moreno, the best in Asia. That’s how it all started – it was picked up in Manila and then spread all over Asia."
It was former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos, a veritable walking advertisement for the terno, who asked Pitoy to do a lot of shows to promote Philippine fashion via Bagong Anyo.
And so came one show after another, one client after another, and sew forth and sew on. Nancy Reagan looked really regal in her Pitoy Moreno gowns as she graced the pages of a magazine in New York. Of the 13 clothes featured, seven were by Pitoy. President Lyndon B. Johnson had him called to do the gowns of his daughters. Pitoy has also made clothes for the Einsenhowers, the Carters and the Bushes. He once made a truly lovely kimona in piña for Queen Sirikit. His creations have also gotten Queen Sofia’s regal nod.
"Pitoy is really so good at what he does," says awardwinning actress and former Pitoy Moreno model Gloria Romero, almost in excelsis. "I really learned a lot from him, he’s a real pro."
Of course, it wasn’t all bliss. Gloria remembers all too well the blisters, too. "I had so much fun joining the Karilagan shows with the late Chona Kasten, Joji Felix Velarde, Conchitina Bernardo and Mary Prieto," Gloria begins to relate. "We brought our show from San Francisco to Los Angeles to New York to Honolulu. But then, I wasn’t able to join them in New York anymore because my ingrown nail was really bothering me and I was already limping from the pain. In fact, I modeled with my big toe all bandaged up."
That wasn’t the only tight spot Gloria got into. "I was already skinny at 97 lbs., but to get into those fully-beaded, slim-waisted Pitoy creations, you had to be skinnier," Gloria stoutly asserts. "I would sneak out to eat my favorite pancakes at Dollar Pancakes. Eventually, I put on some weight so come showtime, they would have a hard time zipping me up. In desperation, I had to wear a girdle."
It was one painful lesson learned. But Gloria, already then a mother of a toddler, did it all for love. "We didn’t do it for the money, it was more of charity work," she says. "But the friends we made and the experience we gained were something that money can’t buy."
"Yes, we did it mostly for charity," says Cherry Pie Villonco-Lazatin. "At that time, there was no professional association of models. We did not get paid for modeling. It was really just among friends, a barkadahan sort of thing."
Yes, they were all friends and this friendship has endured to this day. "Once somebody asked us, ‘What about intrigues? It’s like you’re in a convent school.’ Even our antics were very wholesome. Probably the most daring thing we had ever done was to watch the really risque movie Curious Yellow."
Cherry Pie was only 18 and fresh out of Marymount when she got her teeth into the fashion pie, modeling for Pitoy,...