A label I called friend

Criselda, at a very young age, was already very creative, fashionable and business-minded. She and her sister Helen did made-to-order shoes, and they called the brand Meysel. I was very often her model.  
VETERAN fashion designer Criselda Lontok (left) and Menchu Concepcion.  | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF Menchu Concepcion
VETERAN fashion designer Criselda Lontok (left) and Menchu Concepcion. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF Menchu Concepcion

Criselda and I were both studying in Maryknoll College (now Miriam College). This was in the year 1955. We did not know each other. But she was already so very pretty then, I could not help but notice her. I found out her name was Criselda Lontok. My mother's maiden family name is Lontoc. Criselda's family name, Lontok, ends with a K, while my mother's maiden family name ends with a C. But since our parents came from Batangas, we both assumed we were related somehow. We would always joke and say, we are both related because both of us are beauties. And we would laugh so much about this.

Criselda was very popular. She had many admirers and suitors. We would go to parties together and even go on double dates. She was fun to be with.

Criselda, at a very young age, was already very creative, fashionable and business-minded. She and her sister Helen did made-to-order shoes, and they called the brand Meysel. I was very often her model.

When she got married, she asked me to be her cord sponsor for the wedding.

Then when she had Criselda's in Rustan's, she would ask me to model her clothes. She even featured me together with my daughter Rica and granddaughter Natalia in a poster for Rustan's.

Criselda's distinct traits that I like most was that she was always very accommodating. When I am in Rustan's, she would always be there to help and to assist. There was even a time she planned my wardrobe. She would sit by her desk and we would endlessly tell stories about our families and common friends. Never did I hear Criselda badmouth anyone. She was the friend of all, most especially the matronas.

Up to now, when you open my walk-in closet, majority of my clothes still carry the Criselda brand. They have lasted. They are what you may describe as classic and timeless. Of course, Criselda also sold clothes that were based on the fashion of the time. But I liked the design and cut especially suited for the not-so-perfect figure and for the elderly woman. Her clothes brought out the elegance in us. Yes, I still want the Criselda brand to continue.

I still do miss Criselda. A few days ago, I went to her store and sat in front of her table. I missed her smile and her laughter. I felt nostalgic. She left us too soon.

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