Before skinny jeans and graphic tees, the baro’t saya was the Filipina’s choice of clothing for everyday. The baro’t saya is the unofficial national outfit of the Philippines for women which consists of four parts— the camisa (a short blouse with sleeves), the alampay or pañuelo (a type of shawl worn over the camisa), the saya (a long skirt) and the tapis (a short overskirt wrapped around the saya). Eventually this multi-layered outfit was combined into an “evolved” version known as the terno.
Ramon Valera, truly an innovative artist, evolved the terno removing the panuelo, which covered the woman’s bosom and replaced it with exaggerated bell sleeves. His radical move made many conservative Filipinos shocked but with the help of Mrs. Claro M. Recto and Mrs. Primitivo Lovina who were brave enough to show the new terno off, Valera’s masterpiece lives on to today. His mastery of the art of embroidery, beadwork, and cutting of cloth without pattern made him the go-to fashion designer of the elite of his time (think Gloria Romero and Imelda Romualdez Marcos). And even today, his art is studied by successful and aspiring fashion designers alike. Because of Ramon Valera’s contribution in molding a nation of the arts, he was awarded as National Artist of the Philippines for Fashion Design in 2006 by the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts.
Freeway, one of the country’s leading RTW brands, is paying tribute to the amazing artist that is Ramon Valera by reviving his masterpieces and making them wearable and stylish pieces for today’s Filipina. And to launch the fourth addition to their National Artist Collection Series, Freeway held an intimate gathering at The Row, Glorietta 5 last Oct. 12, 2010. The event was hosted by Tessa Prieto-Valdez and was attended by people from both the fashion industry and media. Peching Zulueta-Gomez (Valera’s niece), Aureo Alonzo (fashion designer), Nick Legazpi (National Museum of the Philippines’ curator), and no less than former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos graced the event. The program started with a discussion about Valera’s life and works with the special guests who gamely shared their inside look on the life of an artist. A short presentation was showed to the audience showcasing the quiet beginnings and amazing achievements of Valera, including his long list of clients, which includes foreign royalty! After the presentation, the collection was showcased to the public for the first time through a fashion show. Freeway pulled off making Valera’s intricate designs into wearable clothes. I could definitely see myself wearing any one of the clothes that went down the runway (minus the extravagant hair pieces, though!). The event came to a close with a short interview with the First Lady who was a Valera patron from the start and a raffle for those who attended. Food was served, freebies were given out, and an exhibit of Valera gowns was set up for one night only. The event truly captured both Valera’s love for fashion and the arts and Freeway’s goal of providing trendy clothes for today’s Filipina.
For more information on the collection and where to get one of your very own Valera inspired outfit, visit www.freeway.net.ph.