Pitoy Moreno, ‘Fashion Czar of Asia’ passes away

January 16, 2018 - 9:01 AM
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Filipino fashion designer Pitoy Moreno. Photo sourced from Facebook.

Legendary fashion designer Jose “Pitoy” Moreno has passed away on Monday, January 15. He was 92.

Credited as one of the earliest advocates of the traditional Maria Clara gown or later referred to as the “terno,” Moreno also introduced the jusi, piña and lepanto to world fashion and has dressed royalties, heads of state and beauty queens including the first ladies of the Philippines and the United States (Pat Nixon, Betty Ford, Nancy Reagan), former presidents Corazon Aquino and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Princess Margaret of Britain, Queen Sophia of Greece, Queen Margarretta of Bulgaria, Princess Suga of Japan and Queen Sirikit of Thailand.

Dubbed as the “Fashion Czar of the Asia and the Pacific,” Moreno first rose to prominence as the costume designer for the world famous Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company where his immersion in traditional Filipino wear would become the hallmark of his later creations.

In a career that spanned six decades, Moreno paraded his creations all over the world and have landed on the pages of prestigious fashion magazines like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Holiday and Le Figaro. He also participated in landmark fashion events like the Seattle World’s Fair and the New York World’s Fair.

Moreno also served as president of the Philippine Couture Association, the first association of Manila designers and credited as founder of the Karilagan International, a fashion-cultural organization which promoted Filipino fashion design here and abroad.

In 2009, then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo nominated Moreno for National Artist for Fashion Design but was met with protest from several National Artists like Virgilio Almario, Napoleon Abueva, Benedicto Cabrera, Bienvenido Lumbera, and Arturo Luz.

In petitioning his proclamation and that of six other nominees before the Supreme Court, the National Artists argued that Moreno’s category of fashion design is not yet considered an accepted art form. The Supreme Court eventually upheld the injunction.

The unfortunate setback did not at all diminish Moreno’s iconic status in the fashion world. In 2013, the Binibining Pilipinas beauties wore his creations in a special tribute.

News of Moreno’s demise has also been met with tributes on social media.