The Story Behind Imee Marcos’ Terno
It’s been weeks since her brother’s inauguration, and still, Senator Imee Marcos is making waves. Is it a trending interview? Is it something uploaded on her YouTube channel?
No. It has something to do with the Filipino formal dress she wore on that memorable day, June 30, 2022, as her brother, Bongbong Marcos, took his oath as the 17th President of the Philippines.
While all other women donned Filipiniana gowns from acclaimed and up-and-coming designers, the Presidential sister chose to design one on her own. But while the move showcased the many facets of this Senator, the situation was more symbolic than anything.
The teal Filipiniana gown was created by Rem Divino. However, Imee chose to adorn it with bits and pieces that are very close to her heart. With restored pendants, chains, and lockets that Marcos received as gifts from her father, the late president Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr., the senator embellished the little butterfly sleeve.
The terno, which evolved from the more conventional four-piece traje de mestiza, is already modernized, and the one-sleeved version offers a fresh take on the style. There were “oohs” and “aahs” over her ensemble, not very far from the usual reception that someone close to Imee received from long ago days of glamor in Malacanang.
(Photo courtesy of Esquire Philippines, Article Published on June 30, 2022)
You see, Imee’s mother, former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos’ go-to outfit during the lengthy rule of her husband, Ferdinand, Sr. is the terno. Her relationship with it was solidified with the grace she exuded wearing it, earning the nickname “Iron Butterfly.”
Do we have a new Iron Butterfly in the making? Do we see a rebirth of the terno as a prime fashion symbol of the country?
The terno garment is the only piece of clothing that truly captures the depth of Filipino history and culture. It exudes Filipino pride. With events like the inauguration and other political events in the country, we are gradually starting to see new Filipino designers coming up with and creating fresh new ways to revive the Filipino traditional dresses.
And this has all been enhanced by Imee’s knack for reinvention. Just look at her ensemble. Apart from the heirlooms and gifts, she matched it with a gold-sequined mask and a thick layer of gold bracelets, allowing the opulence of the terno to shine.
History with a hint of modernity.
That’s what some people think of when they look back at what the Pinay Senator wore.
The actual garment is a straightforward, chic, traditionally layered column terno dress. It is lined with a shade of polvoron-colored Regency lace, overlaid with little side panels of hand-loomed materials. Artisans in Batangas meticulously hand-embroidered flowering and budding Sampaguita on the front and back of the frock in the manner of 18th-century Filipino embroiderers utilizing the craftsman method of calado.
Beauty at its finest.
There were many other celebrities during the inauguration, known for their beauty and grace. But the hum is on Imee.
She is not the first lady like her mom was. But she does exude the same kind of power and charm that define the modern Filipina woman.
The modern Filipina woman – this is what the terno is all about.
Youngsters find it hard to appreciate the beauty of the terno dress. But with the likes of Imee Marcos, whose unique spin and fresh take on her outfits, can bring the essence of the terno closer to the younger generation.
Who knows? This ensemble might eventually be a regular fixture at gala celebrations, film festivals, and the like, not just in the Philippines but all over the world. Hopefully, the reinvention of the terno enables both present and future generations to learn new ways to honor and celebrate their own cultures.