For the 75th anniversary of Philippine-French diplomatic relationships, the Philippine Embassy held an exhibit of fashion designer John Ablaza’s “La Petite Couture” at the impressive Hall of Marriages of Paris’ posh Mairie de 16eme in the presence of H.E. Ambassador Junever M. Mahilum-West, her husband Mr. John West and Maire de 16th arrondissement Francis Szpiner together.
The air turned electric with the entrance of YSL and Givenchy signature model Tetta Agustin dripping in pearls with equally glamorous Camélia Galey, wife of former French Ambassador to the Philippines.
It’s been years since I last saw la Tetta, so there were squeals and endless hugs as I asked her to pose next to the doll named after her. Of course, next to it was a doll dedicated to Bea Zobel who donated to this travelling exhibit.
La Tetta was courted by Paris’ top eligible gentlemen during her heydays. I remember seeing her with Olivier Giscard d’Estaing, brother to then French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing whom I personally met in a state dinner in the Palace of Versailles for the King and Queen of Sweden.
Those were grand fêtes with our names being announced as we reached the top of the stairs flanked by elegant “Gardes de Paris” wearing silver helmets with horsetail. I think I was the only Asian that night as I watched military bands march down the Hall of Mirrors lit up in all its splendor. Yes, Tetta was the most sought after beauty then.
In her opening remarks, Ambassador Junever M. Mahilum-West invited guests working in the fashion industry to “consider Philippine-made fabrics and raw materials in your next design and help us create awareness of our artisanal traditions.”
I loved the Mangyan full sized couture gowns embellished with coconut shell beads, lumbang seeds and seashells. Mais, c’était tellement exotique! Félicitations Mme. l’ambassadeur. The lieu of the exhibit was terribly elegant.
He says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6, NIV*