Sunday, August 8, 2010

*207. La Moda Elegante: COUTURE CAPAMPANGAN

FIRST LADY OF FASHION. Florencia "Floring" Salgado of San Fernando established a highly popular couture house in Manila. She also personally modeled her modern creations as shown in this salon photo. Dated 8 June 1931.

Peacetime in the 1930s was when the country settled into a short decade of ease and relative comfort, brought about by an aggressive Commonwealth program of infrastructure building and industrialization. The “Americanization’ of the Philippines continued unabated, and local society lapped it all up, adapting the joie de vivre and materialism of their colonizers, evident in their ideas of leisure, the elegant life and of course, modes of dressing.

For the young Kapampangan girl on the threshold of a new, more liberal era, it was an exciting time to grow up. “To see and to be seen” was one important reason for joining youth clubs like Mountainside, Mancomunidad PampangueƱa and E Kukupas. More than social clubs with special advocacies, these groups also unwittingly hyped the importance of personal style, grooming and fashion in their gala events and parties. Schools and colleges, particularly co-ed institutions also provided opportunities to dress up—there were fairs, proms, foundation days, ROTC events and inter-school beauty contests that called for young ladies to dress to the nines.

Then there was the new media that brought Hollywood idols to the local theaters via American-made movies, instantly becoming new fashion icons. Louise Brooks popularized the bob cut, Clara Bow was the quintessential Flapper and Marlene Dietrich channeled her masculine side with her tailored suits and pants. Magazines like Graphic and Free Press devoted pages to style and fashion, often featuring the fabulous gowns of Carnival beauties designed and executed by leading couturiers of the day like Pacita Longos.

The local costurera was not adequate for the modern Kapampangan woman’s new Western fashion needs—only a good fashion house with trained designers will do. Soon, high fashion “talleres de moda” sprouted all over Pampanga, promising to give every young lady that modern, sophisticated and elegant look.

In Florencia Salgado of San Fernando led the way in creating beautiful high fashion wear for the affluent Kapampangan, including wedding outfits, casual and office clothes. Educated in Paris, Floring was a walking advertisement for her fashions, modeling her own creations and holding fashion shows at her school. She established her atelier on Nebraska St., in Manila, enjoying the patronage of the city's creme de la creme.

“La Creacion”, owned and operated by Maria Tioleco Espinosa was another popular “taller de costuras, bordados, feston, vainica y cadeneta”. Not to be outdone was “San Fernando Elegante” of sisters Rosa and Angela Santos with a shop on Blanco St. Meanwhile, Elisa Lim, a graduate of “costura y pintura” managed “La Moda Elegante” while modiste’s Jesusa Quiambao ran “La Satisfaccion”. Elsewhere, Juliana Agustin’s “La Elegancia” was the purveyor of couture in Macabebe. Ladies from Floridablanca glammed it up at the shop of Pilar D. David, a graduate of the French Art School, whose specialty is fitting ladies’ apparel.

In Manila, enterprising Kapampangans set up their design and dress shops in various pars of the city. Originally from Sasmuan, Epifania Cuyugan set up “La Fantasia” along Herran (now Pedro Gil), while AngeleƱa Roberta Tablante Paras had her hole in the wall at 859 Rizal Avenue. “R.T. Paras” would grow into the legendary fashion shop that would count First Ladies (Aurora Quezon), Presidents (Cory Aquino, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) and high society personalities (Imelda Cojuangco) as clients. It still is in operation today under the helm of a grandson, Roy Gonzales, a Paris-trained designer.

The Thirties were fabulous years for the Kapampangan woman who, for once, had the extra time and money to indulge in the things she loves best—dressing up in the latest fashions to look and feel beautiful, lending credence to the saying that indeed, clothes make the man—and his woman!


Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr. Castro...for blogging about Pampanga...also interesting to find out about my ancestry!!

alex r. castro said...

Thanks as well, for dropping by. If, by chance, you pass by Holy Anbgel U in Angeles, the school has genealogical records in microfilms from most Pampanga towns, acquired from the Church of the Latter Day Saints. You can research there for free.