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Tributes For Criselda Lontok Pour In After Her Passing

The esteemed House Fashion Designer for Rustan’s passed away peacefully on September 22

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Criselda Lontok at her 35th anniversary fashion show

On September 22, Criselda Lontok, the iconic fashion designer passed away peacefully. Tributes have continued to pour since the news of her passing was announced. 


More than just a brand, Criselda Lontok is an artist in her own right, a design icon who epitomizes the personality of both muse and maker. She had just recently celebrated her 35th year in the industry last 2018, where she dressed the influential women of now, who look up to their mothers as their own personal icons—the very same women who have followed and stayed true to Criselda’s style philosophy since the label was created 35 years ago. 


“It was an absolute privilege knowing Criselda,” says Nedy Tantoco,  chairman of Rustan’s. “She will always be remembered for her personal touch and incredible attention to detail, as a fashion icon continuously reinventing the Philippine fashion retail industry, and as a loyal and steadfast member of the Rustan family.”


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Criselda with Susan Joven

PR guru and head of Visions and Expressions, Susan Joven, when asked to recount her best memories with Criselda said: “We laughed. Endlessly. Yes, we worked together. But Criselda and I valued our personal relationship over the professional. She and I would have long conversations, exchanging  and analyzing our own happy and sad stories. I felt safe with her. Both of us accepted each other wholeheartedly, without judgment. After that, we laugh again. Laughter was our common language.”


She continued by talking about Criselda’s legacy on Philippine fashion: “To Criselda, her clients were not just customers. They were really her muses and sources of creative inspiration. She understood them very well. She was more about style than fashion. She looked to the trends but wasn’t really guided by them. She preferred to listen to the women she dressed and brought out that consistent, classic, elegant look, which also reflected in her own personal style.”


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Lifestyle consultant, merchandiser and visual designer Tanya Fricke also paid tribute to her Tita Criselda, saying that: “To say that Tita Criselda was an inspiration is an understatement. 


Not only was she an icon whose legacy will live on in the Philippine fashion industry, but she was also a dedicated mother, friend, and Tita who had a heart of gold.  


Thoughtful and kind and regardless of how busy she was with her career, she was always there for those who needed her. 


When my mother-in-law Josie Lichauco passed away, Tita Criselda stepped in as a second mother to our entire family - constantly checking on us and sending us the yummiest homemade treats every Christmas. 


I met Tita Criselda when I was a teenager, through my mother BabyGirl Fricke. She and Tita Criselda were friends and mommy  was a fashionista who took me with her to several fashion events.”


Tanya went on to talk about the time she walked the ramp for Criselda, as well going on to describe the very best of Criselda’s craft and artistry. “From classical clean lines during the 80’s using lace, crepe, and silk to her more flamboyant creations with patterns and textures, layering fabric to create iconic and timeless fashion pieces - her work is always a masterpiece.”


“Through her 38 year journey as a fashion designer, Tita Criselda has evolved tremendously. I shall forever cherish my ankle-length one-sided black-and-white maxi dress and most especially my lace bustier and matching skirt, previously owned by my mom from the 80s, so beautifully structured and needless to say - timeless. It’s that little black outfit one must have in her closet.”


“Tita Criselda deserves all the accolades and love that the fashion industry has given back to her, after all, she dedicated her entire life to the Philippine fashion industry.  Tita Criselda was a star in our world and now she’s that bright shining star once more in Heaven. Her legacy shall live on forever,” she ended.


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Criselda with Linda

Fashion maven and society belle Linda Ley also paid tribute to the late designer. She said: "I woke up to the shocking news that Criselda had passed away. I kept hoping that someone would tell me it was fake news. I was devastated and until now, it hasn’t sunk in yet that our dear friend is now with our creator. It was only a few weeks ago (last Aug 10) that she had celebrated her birthday quietly with her loved ones. I never thought that would be the last time I’d speak to her again. 


Before the pandemic, I would always text Criselda to meet up at Rustan's. She would let me try on her new arrivals and we would spend the whole afternoon at her boutique. She made everything so easy, relaxing and comfortable for her customers while we shopped. You’d always bump into her friends and supporters dropping by the shop to say hi.


Memories of the legendary Criselda will live on forever in our hearts. Her fabulous fashion shows and the grand gala that I was honored to be part of will forever be cherished and remembered. 


Thank you Criselda for the beautiful friendship and memories. I love you beyond life. Farewell."


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Criselda with Frannie

"I was a Criselda Lontok fan long before I became a friend," says Frannie Jacinto. "She came from a line of Batangas well-bred beauties that included her cousins Menchu Concepcion and Ching Montinola. 


The Criselda designs  were as feminine, refined and stylish as she was.  One could wear them in a variety of ways and remain fashionable even if the ensemble was a decade old.  It was no wonder that she was the top seller in all Rustan’s stores. 


Criselda first asked me to model her clothes in the late 1990’s and my then teenage daughter Natalia was included in her mother/daughter show in the subsequent year.  Almost twenty years later, we once again modeled for her grand 35th anniversary show at the Peninsula hotel that was filled with her faithful fans of well heeled ladies. 


We regularly socialized and enjoyed each other’s company through the years, but with COVID, quarantine keeping us home bound this past year and a half, she would make sure to keep in touch with humorous texts, health updates and loving messages."