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Criselda Lontok follows the vision of Glecy Tantoco

PERSONAL CHOICE - Frannie Jacinto - The Philippine Star

If Glecy Tantoco were alive today, she would have applauded the loudest at Criselda Lontok's fashion show celebrating her 30th year with Rustan’s at Raffles and Fairmont Hotel last Monday.

Or Glecy might have shed a tear, even if the Rustan's founder was such a strong but benevolent dynamo who made her staffers quiver at her strict standards of perfection. She might have been touched at the show of affection, as the show was lovingly dedicated to her as Criselda's mentor and inspiration.

Judging from the success of the bestselling Criselda boutique where women of all ages and shapes continue to make a beeline for stylish daytime clothes as well as chic evening wear, Criselda learned her fashion retailing lessons well from Glecy.

“It is important to have a vision — that is the lesson that my mother taught us,” said Rustan’s president Nedy Tantoco. “Put your heart into your work and your clients as your priority--this is another lesson that Criselda obviously has mastered.”

The  show was enough reason for Rustan’s 92-year-old patriarch, Ambassador Bienvenido Tantoco, to cut short his New York trip and fly to Manila. “I would be very honored to be your guest of honor, most especially since you are dedicating the event to my beloved wife Glecy who, as you mentioned, has been your inspiration.”

The charming Tito Benny even gamely posed for photos during the event, which was attended by stalwarts of high society and Manila's fashionable set.

“Thank you, Criselda, for staying with the family and with Rustan’s,” Nedy said. “Thank you for bringing out the best from yourself to help define what a Lady Rustan should be,” said Nedy who is herself a Criselda client.

“I always get good comments about my dress or the way I look every time I’m in a Criselda,” smiled Nedy.

A 20-piece orchestra played Filipino favorites and the audience was touched by accolades by Criseloda's followers onscreen.

From Imelda Cojuangco: “Criselda is someone absolutely dear to me. She has a genuinely kind, good and gentle heart. As a designer she is very dedicated to her work. She makes her clients feel elegant and stunning. Because every piece she makes is flattering and comfortable.”

Isabel Wilson: “Criselda is a gentlewoman with innate good taste. Her style is modern and trendy yet timeless.”

Maritess Tantoco stated that “Criselda has always been a person I look up to as a lady of style, grace and elegance, and this is all reflected in her show.”

Susan Joven, Rustan's faithful PR lady, said, “I am lucky to have been part of Criselda’s 30 years of success. She's one elegant and beautiful lady.”

The beautifully staged show featured colorful outfits with easy breezy tops and stretchy jersey pants, to vibrantly hued  or geometric printed caftan dresses and ended with classy ball gowns that could easily fit all body shapes. It was a treat to watch true-blue ramp divas — Melanie Marquez, Tweetie de Leon-Gonzales, Marina Benipayo, Bea Recto Aznir, Izza Gonzales and Suyen Chi gracefully glide instead of the usual jolting pony walk that the current, young models are wont to do.

The piece de resistance of the evening was the 129-carat cabochon Columbian emerald necklace from world-class jeweler Yvel, owned by founders Isaac and Orna Levy.

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For comments and ideas, please email:  jacinto.fa@gmail.com

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