Remembering Ben Farrales’ fashion legacy

Published March 8, 2021, 10:25 PM

by John Legaspi

The legendary fashion designer passed away last March 6, 2021 at age 88

Ben Farrales (Photo from Designer Circle Philippines) and his terno designs featured on Philippine Panorama magazine in 1975 (Photo by @davirett from Fashionable Filipinas)

The local fashion industry mourns the death of Ben Farrales, dubbed as the “Dean of Philippine Fashion,” but was humbly called Mang Ben by his friends and colleagues. 

Entering the scene during the ’50, the legendary fashion designer has contributed a lot in strengthening the identity of local fashion, with over 200 runway shows done here and abroad. 

As we say goodbye to Mang Ben, let’s look back to some of his greatest moments and remember him for what he was, a true champion of Filipino Fashion.

Celebrating local fabrics

In a photo shared on Instagram by Fashionable Filipinas, an Instagram account devoted to showcasing the Philippine National Dress, it featured some of Mang Ben’s early work on the terno. Published in a fashion editorial on a 1975 issue of the Philippine Panorama magazine, Mang Ben’s terno designs incorporated indigenous fabrics, which later on in his career became a hallmark of his design.

Trailblazer in creating runway presentation

Knowing the power and spectacle that comes from a runway show, Mang Ben was among the first to organize a fashion show at the Manila Hotel that started in 1959, which helped propel the works and brands of other designs, one of which is Patis Tesoro and her homegrown brand. “Thank you to the indefatigable Mang Ben Farrales who launched Patis in the Manila Hotel Luncheon Shows of the fabulous ’80s,” the brand posted. “She mourns the loss of a kind mentor.”

Sarimanok costume on Miss World

Being born in Cotabato, Mang Ben was a true master of incorporating Southern Philippine culture and arts in his work. Among the many times he showcased this was on the National Costume he created for Ruffa Gutierrez in the 1993 Miss World pageant, which was inspired by the colorful sarimanok.

Helped local fashion talents

His true legacy also lies on the designers and models he helped throughout his career. He shared his knowledge to designers such as Danilo Franco and Goullee Gorospe and his shows were always a celebration of Filipina beauty with Marina Benipayo, Tweetie de Leon, Apples Aberin, and Melanie Marquez walking on his runway

A true Filipino artist

In 2015, the Cultural Center of the Philippines recognized his works in fashion and how he depicted Mindanaoan art through his clothing exhibit titled “Maranaw,” showcased in Canada, Los Angeles, and New York. Recently, the Designer Circle Philippines nominated him among other Filipino fashion legends to be honored as National Artist for Fashion.

“We find it heavy in our hearts to grasp that a few days we have endorsed him for the National Artist Award for Fashion and a few more steps before he was accorded this recognition, Mang Ben is no longer with us,” the organization posted. ” But as Filipino designers, we will continue to celebrate and commemorate his legacy!”