The vibrant elegant “Native Fabrics” of designer Oliver Tolentino bring a new era of iconic & unforgettable creativity to the World’s fashion stages

Posted on November 7, 2011


From Hollywood to Manila, New York City, London and beyond the “Native Fabrics” of the Philippines are gracing the Fashion stages across the globe. Designer Oliver Toletino’s trademark can be seen in his collection and use of native fabric created from the Philippines Flora & Fauna. His genus and creativity is expressed through the designing of fabrics with local waterlilies, piña, abaca and raw silk cocoon dyed in vibrant colors and his uses of layers and complementary rosettes and cutouts.

In London, at the Miss World pageant, Gwendoline Ruais became the highest Miss Philippines to rank in 37 years when she was named “1st Runner Up” (Miss Venezuela won), wearing a red flowy chiffon “Oliver Tolentino” gown with a slit in the leg that was made expressly for her for the pageant. The gown had a bodice beaded with red Swarovski crystals and a nude skin back. This was a personal honor for Oliver because it’s the first time a Filipino designer has been allowed to create clothes in many decades under new country manager Cory Quirino.

Coincidentally, the first “1st Runner Up” 37 years ago was Evangeline Pascual who hails from Orani, Bataan. Oliver, also from Orani, is a distant cousin of Ms. Pascual.

For the pageant, Gwen also wore an Oliver Tolentino pina & abaca modern terno for the national costume portion of the TV show. In addition, Gwen was photographed in about a dozen of Oliver’s outfits while she was in London. She wore Oliver’s dyed-blue pina skirt and blouse outfit to depart Manila and arrive in London, a silver sequined long gown when contestants were photographed along the Thames River, a green chiffon for the first charity event, and a raw silk cocoon cocktail dress at another event, among others.

Oliver somehow found time to make Gwen’s outfits before returning to Los Angeles from Manila. I attended the star studded night at which Oliver was honored as the Samsung 2011 MetroWear Icon of the Philippines by Metro & Metro Society magazines, in conjunction with the ABS-CBN TV network, on October 24, 2011.

As the MetroWear Icon, Tolentino presented his elegant 75+ piece collection at the luxurious Sofitel Hotel Harbor Tent in a solo gala attended by myself and an A list of rich and famous of the Manila society. I had a VIP great front row seat and was treated to a back stage peak with Oliver to view the whole collection of the gowns, men’s Barong style shirts & apparel, and my favorite his dresses, business wear and suits for women.

Oliver’s other inspiration is giving back to his community and he chose the charities of Bantay Bata and Sagip Kapamilya to benefit from the invitation-only event. Ironically for Oliver, a designer from Bataan province who now dresses celebrities worldwide, and is loved in Hollywood, this was his first gala in Manila.

The show was full of energy, and I had the opportunity to take more photo’s with former First Lady Imelda Marcos, Ernesto L. Lopez- head of ABS-CBN Publishing, actor Sam Milby, and the beautiful Kuh Ledesma, to name a few. Other Royalty included the Princess of Brunei, Henry Sy, Lucio Tan, Pangilinan,and Tantoco families. Celebrity walkers included Tessa Prieto-Valdes, Venus Raj, Jake Cuenca, Pinky de Leon, Joan Bitigco, Marina Benipayo, Ria Salgado, Tutay Maristela, Empress Shuck, Divine Lee, Megan Young, Victor Basa, members of the Azkals football team, and a once-in-a-lifetime walk by Kuh Ledesma. Ambassadors for the event were Kaye Tinga, Audrey Tan-Zubiri, Bettina Osmena, and Raul Manzano. Oliver’s muses for the evening were Tessa and Kuh. Director Joaquin Valdes created an artistic short film that got the crowd excited with a theme of Old Hollywood. The film was preceded by a quote of Oliver’s which read: “I had to leave in order to come home.”

Oliver always challenges himself, and this time was no exception. His collection excluded the colors black, white, and red from his female pieces. Director Robby Carmona commented that it was his first show ever to close without black or white wedding gowns. Over half of the collection comprised native fabrics dyed in vibrant colors, most accentuated in great detail with hand cut-outs, rosettes, and beadings. Oliver offered evening gowns, cocktail dresses, ready-to-wear pants, and uniquely cut men’s barongs. His collection received a standing ovation.

Additionally while in the Philippines, Oliver launched his MaSAYA handbag collection for RAGS 2 RICHES, a socio-ethical endeavor to help the women of Payatas. Oliver is the 2011 Rags2Riches handbag designer and all monies go toward the benefit of the nanays. Any proceeds Oliver may receive will be donated to educate children in Bataan province.

Oliver has been busy as he most recently had gowns featured on “America’s Next Top Model” Cycle 17 where 7 of the 13 All Star contestants wore his gowns for the Pink’s hotdog stand shoot. The winning contestant wore his purple pina dress.

Oliver will appear on an upcoming “Bottomline with Boy Abunda.”

This is one Icon to watch as Oliver Tolentino continues to bring unforgettable creativity and elegance to the Women & men of the World.

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