STYLE, elegance, and glamour. These words best describe the fashion design of legendary Ben Farrales.

A Fine Arts alumnus of the University of Santo Tomas, “Mang Ben,” as he is fondly called by people in the fashion world, started his career in fashion during the early 50’s through the encouragement of his sister Ida. He learned the craft of dressmaking and worked as an apprentice at Aurelia’s, a prestigious boutique with Zorro David along Mabini Street in Malate. His classical and innovative style caught the attention of Manil’s fashionable society which boosted his career as a designer.

Mang Ben recently held a repeat performance of his 70th birthday gala , Ben Farrales: 50 Years in Fashion, last August 19 at the Makati Shangrila Hotel, to raise funds for typhoon victims. The show was co-sponsored by the Fashion Designers Association of the Philippines (FDAP) and headed by Rosa Rosal for the Philippine National Red Cross.

Featuring designs from FDAP members and Farrales himself, the show was divided in two parts. The first, The Red Collection, consists of designs by 30 FDAP members. It was followed by Encore, a collection that highlighted Farrales’ 50 years in fashion.

Red Collection used red as a theme to express the ‘fashion sensibilities’ of the designers. Ranging from classically elegant gowns to radical expressionistic creations, the 30 designs in this collection represented the individual styles of FDAP designers.

Meanwhile, Encore opened with a Grecian toga-style collection in various colors draped on models in every imaginable way. The atmosphere was very solemn, complemented by operatic music in the background. The mood lightened as the second segment began. The models, sashayed dressed in giant straw hats, straight-cut pajamas, and gossamer robes, while party music was played. Beaded shawls and rosette dresses were included in this segment.

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From western styles, the design shifted to the ethnic and the oriental. The pieces were characterized by colorful patterns cut in sarong and Chinese-robes style. The next three segments included collections that were characterized by stripes, checkered, and polka dot patterns.

The last two segments of the program highlighted the show with the wedding gown set and a collection of Farrales’ evening gowns worn by famous celebrities such as Ruffa Gutierrez in the Miss World beauty pageant and Melanie Marquez on the runway.


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