Christian Espiritu Master of the modern terno

The “master of the modern terno,” Christian de Leon Espiritu, passed on last 18 June in his home. This was after he had received a long-distance call from eldest daughter Talitha, a writer and university professor, who was observing Father’s Day in the United States. She and her father, she shared, constantly exchanged selfies to update each other.

As a father, Christian was known to be loving and caring, always doing his best for his four children.

A mentor to fashion designers including barong tagalog expert Barge Ramos, couture legend Inno Sotto, best-selling Jojie Lloren and Filipiniana expert-turned-monk Dom Gang Gomez, Christian had been like a father, too, to his proteges whom he allowed to grow by letting them sketch and create designs on their own.

Christian’s heyday was from the mid-1960s all the way to the 1970s when he became the favorite couturier of then-First Lady Imelda R. Marcos. His designs for her, including the ternos she wore in the Persepolis Bash of the century and her visits to international heads of state, were highlighted by international publications, its social columnists observing that his fashion dictum “less is more” allowed his clients to shine, their physical traits enhanced by the simplicity and architectural construction of his masterpieces.

Among the best-dressed ladies he dressed up were Tingting Cojuangco, Chona Kasten and Elvira Manahan. He made Tingting’s wedding gown when she was married to Peping Cojuangco in 1962. Her daughter, China, would wear the same white modern gown.

Although Christian’s lines were very modern, he utilized traditional embroidery and thus helped the women embroiderers of his hometown, Paranaque.

He was married to the former Gli Limcaoco, an educator and a dedicated, faithful and supportive wife and mother.

Christian went on to succeed in the ready-to-wear business and briefly produced and directed movies. He discovered Edu Manzano whom he cast in his directorial debut, Alaga, which co-starred Charito Solis and featured socialite television personality Elvira Manahan in a cameo role.