Pepito Albert, Veteran Fashion Designer, Passes Away At 63

Pepito Albert in 2020. Leon Art Gallery on Facebook

The Filipino fashion icon was known worldwide for his striking designs with clean lines and silhouettes and attention to construction.

Renowned for his womenswear designs, Albert created gowns and ternos, focusing on striking constructions, streamlined lines, and impeccable tailoring. He is best known in the fashion industry for his proportions. “Proportion and silhouette must be correct. Details come in later,” he shared in a recent interview.

He studied fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles and started his career by launching his first collection in Los Angeles in Spring 1987. He won the Rising Star award presented by California Mart that same year. He was “discovered” by Kathleen McGillivray, then-market editor of Vogue in 1988, and his pieces were featured in the magazine as well as other publications at the time. The Los Angeles Times called him the “current West Coast darling of the fashion press” in 1989.

Albert stayed overseas for 15 years, training in Los Angeles and Paris before returning to the Philippines in 1991. He was a favorite designer among Filipino socialites, including former model and philanthropist Maricris Zobel, presidential sister and socialite Irene Marcos-Araneta, former banker and entrepreneur Kaye Tinga, photographer Monique Villongco, and entrepreneur Fe Rodriguez. 

Albert was a long-time friend of the current First Lady Liza Araneta Marcos, who was his classmate in Business Management at Ateneo de Manila University. This was how he came to design for the family. In 2014, he designed the gown of Xandra Rocha for her wedding to Luis Marcos Araneta, the youngest son of Irene Marcos Araneta. He also designed the socialite’s summer dress for the event.

After taking a hiatus due to cancer, Albert made his comeback in 2022 by designing the inaugural barong Tagalog worn by Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. during his presidential inauguration. Made of jusi, the design featured clean lines and was inspired by the rayadillo, the traditional Spanish-era military uniform. Albert also designed the second barong worn by Marcos to the inaugural dinner, an embroidered piña number, the barongs worn by Marcos’ three sons, and the piña gown worn by Irene Marcos Araneta.

“I need to do something positive to fire my creative energy once more,” Albert said to The Philippine Star in 2022 of his return after fighting cancer.

Most recently, Albert’s work was showcased in Algodon, the fashion show held at Pinto Museum in February 2023, highlighting designs crafted from inabel fabrics made of pure cotton and colored using organic dyes. A few days prior to his passing, his RTW designer line debuted at the recently concluded Katutubo PH x Bench/ pop-up from May 20 to 22.

A tribute was posted by Filipino fashion designer Rajo Laurel on Instagram. “My dear Pepito, my mentor, my teacher, my boss, my friend. Thank you for everything. The world is truly less brighter now. I will see you in my dreams.”

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