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Ramon Valera, National Artist for Fashion
Ramon Valera is a cut above the rest.A� He was celebrated for his ingenuity and craftsmanship, for revolutionizing the national costume, for his masterly embroidery and beadwork and for translating Philippine motifs into contemporary terms.A� The greatest of all was his manipulation by cut a�� he would sew a dress to perfection without using a pattern.A� Ramon Valera was the Dean of Philippine Fashion as he was a creative innovator.
He was born on August 31, 1912 to a well-to-do family. His father, Melecio was a partner of the tycoon Vicente Madrigal.A� Since his youth, Valera had been a natural in fashion design.A� His mother, Pilar Oswald noticed that the dolls displayed on the piano would suddenly have new clothes.
Valeraa��s early innovation was modernizing the terno at the start of the forties.A� He revived the traje de boda (what we know as the Maria Clara), traditionally a four-piece ensembles consisting of a blouse, skirt, overskirt and scarf.A� He exaggerated the bell sleeves, which were copied by many.A� Then the terno became a one-piece silhouette, fastened with a zipper instead of hoods.A� He shocked the public when he removed the panuelo or scarf which covered the womana��s bosom.A� At first, the public thought the style was immodest, but a few wives such as Mrs. Claro M. recto and Mrs. Pimitivo Lovina, were open-minded enough to show off the new look.
Valeraa��s faultless construction was an art in its own right.A� He simply measured the client and cut on the fabric, disregarding the toile, or pattern.A� The clothes never changed the womana��s figure or forced her to look rail-thin.A� They celebrated the shape without mirroring it.A� Valera was also famous for his surprise element, called the a�?close-open techniquea�?.A� The wearer should be shrouded in mystery, and when she removed the covering, it would reveal a wonder.
Even today, Filipino fashion designers study Valera’s ternos: its construction, beadworks, applique, etc. Valera helped mold generations of artists, and helped fashion to become no less than a nation’s sense of aesthetics. But more important than these, he helped form a sense of the Filipino nation by his pursuit of excellence.
Valeraa��s life centered on work and his relatives.A� He was once engaged to Luz Puyat and later to bading Erana.A� He chose to remain a bachelor, and adopted his nephew Francisco Zulueta.
The years of hard work took its toll before his 60th birthday.A� Valera died in 1972 at the age of 59.
See the Freeway x Ramon Valera collection HERE.
a�?A Cut Above the Resta�? by Marge Enriques (Published in Cada Traje Es Una Obra Maestra)