IN PHOTOS: A tribute to Ben Farrales, designer and icon

Philippine Fashion Week (#PhFW) Spring-Summer 2014 goes emotional with a closing show that pays tribute to the Dean of Philippine Fashion

MANG BEN. Wheelchair-bound Ben Farrales walks the length of the runway where his most notable designs had just walked in an amazing retrospective. All photos for Rappler by Jory Rivera

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Fashion Week (#PhFW) Spring-Summer 2014 was 5 days of some of the best fashion shows I had ever seen in any PhFW season. To those who truly love fashion, it was an exhausting 5 days – in a good way . It was, in fact, exhilirating.

Aside from the leaner but better productions compared to past seasons, one thing made it stand out: “Ben Farrales: A Retrospective.”

The tribute to the Dean of Philippine Fashion was, in my opinion, the best closing show Philippine Fashion Week has ever had. 

This final show began in a solemn manner. PhFW producer Joey Espino (he produces the event bi-annually along with brother Audie Espino and protegé Tina Herrera) took the stage, sharing with guests the story of how Farrales encouraged him to keep on 3 years ago, when he considered giving up and stopping the staging of Philippine Fashion Week.

Farrales, now wheelchair-bound, was on one end of the runway, a smile never leaving his face.

After Espino’s opening address, the show began and Farrales’ legacy was re-visited and celebrated. Jewelry designer Gerry Sunga provided the accessories.

Here are Rappler’s exclusive photos:

The show was a visual journey into Farrales’ career in Philippine fashion that spanned more than 60 years.

It was also a reunion of veteran models who worked with Mang Ben in his younger days – Tweetie de Leon, Patty Betita, Annette Coronel, Marina Benipayo, and Celine Magat Lopez, among others. Actor and Benipayo’s beau Ricardo Cepeda was back on the catwalk as well.

Emotions reached their peak when Farrales decided to walk the entire length of the runway to close the show and to express appreciation to his fans and supporters.

Models and other designers didn’t hold back their tears. Designer Anthony Nocom was emotional as he assisted Mang Ben down the runway, and so was Christian Espiritu who ran to hug the industry icon.

Farrales was given a standing ovation. The applause seemed unending. The Dean of Philippine Fashion, clutching a bouquet of flowers, smiled, and raised his hand. That moment, he basked in the glory that a pillar of Philippine haute couture deserves. –


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