By Jullie Y. Daza
AS fashion editors might put it, an era has passed with the passing of Pitoy Moreno.
Pitoy wasn’t just a fashion icon, again to use a favorite word of theirs, he was a gentle force who shaped not just the silhouettes of dresses and gowns but also the manners and mores of at least two and a half generations of young ladies endowed with beauty and charm, aspiring to be more sophisticated while looking irresistably sweet and innocent.
The “look” of the Filipina emerging from a cocoon woven by strict parents, a Catholic education, and the standards of a society that could blush at sex scandals was what Pitoy worked with, or worked on, to create his vision of the fashion model who would go on to become a beauty queen and eventually a woman of the world. In those days of the ‘60s Pitoy was considered the heir of Ramon Valera, and not long afterward he and Ben Farrales would be tagged by the grapevine as the fiercest rivals on the ramp.
Pitoy was the late Imelda Cojuangco’s favorite designer, by which the fashion writers meant that he “did” most of her most important gowns for the biggest occasions, as he also helped her choose the jewelry and accessories (her signature being a soft but large-petaled flower behind one ear), the shoes and purse to go with each outfit. Some years ago, before he was confined to his sickbed, ABS-CBN invited Manila’s former models and other legendary women of style and substance to model his creations for a retrospective, and judging by their account, they had a great time swapping anecdotes about Pitoy. He had taught them well, not only the benefits of proper posture but of fashion etiquette as well, which served them in good stead especially when they were abroad for their shows.
It may come as a surprise to many that among Pitoy’s fans was the mayor of Manila, Alfredo Lim, who had previously named Pitoy an outstanding citizen of the city. Until he retired from the scene, Pitoy was hosting lunch “regularly” at irregular times at his Malate home for Mayor Lim Kuan Yew and a small bunch of us editors who had a nosey interest in the private affairs of Manila’s who’s-who. Nope, Pitoy either knew too much or he was too nice to contribute much to the chit-chat. A real gentleman and no tattle-tale, he.