By Robert R. Requintina
SEVEN Filipina models, including singer Kiana Valenciano and former Miss Earth Jamie Herrell, as well as international Filipino designers, walked out of Los Angeles Fashion Week after they were allegedly rejected from participating in the runway show.
A news report by the daily morning program “Unang Hirit” on GMA 7, said that the Filipino models were asked to leave the backstage by the staff of Art Hearts Fashion, organizer of the event.
Erik Rosete, president of Art Hearts Fashion, did not want the Filipina models in the fashion show, according to the report.
In another report, it was alleged that that there was a directive which said: “No Filipinos on the runway.”
The fashion models flew to the US for the opening show of Lebanese/fashion designer Elie Madi.
Filipino designers Resty Lagare and Rocky Gathercole were also invited to the runway show at The MacArthur last March 12. But they decided to skip the event.
Jacob Meir, owner of For The Stars Fashion House, which distributes the creations of Madi, Gathercole and Lagare in the US, also backed out of the show.
“We actually don’t tolerate this kind of thing na i-discriminate ‘yong mga Filipina. Nag-back out talaga kami. It’s not fair sa mga tao, like sa mga kapwa ko Pilipino,” said Gathercole.
Kiana said: “To the models who were rejected, the opinion of one guy does not define who you are. I’ve never met you, I’ve never seen you but I can already tell that you’re stronger than people think you are. Because you got through tonight.”
Angeli Pangilinan, mother of Kiana who also went to the US, issued a statement following the alleged discrimination. Her full statement:
“I am so sad that Kiana was not able to participate in the opening day of the prestigious LA Fashion Week as she was invited for a very special cause – the AIDS Foundation.
“7 Filipinas including former Miss Earth Jamie Herrell and Kiana were not allowed to walk the ramp for the opening fashion show at the MacArthur, at 9pm, of Elie Madi, and, ironically, two top Filipino designers, Resty Lagare and Rocky Gathercole. All flew to Los Angeles for the fundraiser from the Middle East and the Philippines;
“Due to this situation, Jacob Meir, the owner of For the Stars Fashion House, the ‘home’ of the three designers on Melrose Avenue, refused to allow the designers to continue with the fashion show because he would not allow the show to go on without the Filipino models, Jamie and Kiana. He is planning another event instead.
“I believe however that everything happens for a reason and that God has better plans for Kiana. On behalf of Manila Genesis and Kiana, Gary and I would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to all of those who continue to believe in and support her.
“The local Fil-Am media flocked to the store of Mr. Meir and interviewed the designers, Mr. Meir and Kiana after hearing of the event cancellation,” the statement read.