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Journey of the Barong Tagalog, 20th Century Philippines, Part 13: Pitoy Moreno

Jose “Pitoy” Moreno was a Filipino fashion designer that brought Filipino fashion and filipiñiana clothing to the international spotlight. He began his rise to worldwide popularity and success in the 1960’s and carried it through the 1970’s and 80’s. Moreno brought his fashion shows to New York City, Paris, Rome, London, Madrid, Tokyo, Monaco, and many other cities around the world. In addition to having many high ranking politicians and other public figures of the Philippines as clients, Moreno also had numerous American First Ladies and foreign royalty as clients, as well. His designs appeared in international fashion magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Fashion magazines and editors referred to him as the “Fashion Czar of Asia”, “Asia’s High Priest of Fashion” and the “greatest Filipino couturier”.

Moreno designed, sold and popularized filipiñiana clothing, using traditional designs, fabrics and techniques while incorporating modern touches. He introduced Philippine textiles, like jusi and piña, to the international fashion world. Moreno also made the Barong Tagalog for worldwide consumption. He’s made barongs for high profile non-Filipinos like Pierre Cardin, the Emperor of Japan, the King of Morocco and the King of Malaysia.

Conchitina Sevilla Bernardo in a dress length Barong Tagalog by Pitoy Moreno.

Conchitina Sevilla Bernardo in a dress length Barong Tagalog by Pitoy Moreno. Pic is probably circa 1960’s. Moreno sold barong dresses like these at Neiman Marcus, Henri Bendel and other US boutiques. He later made barong dresses for Queen Marguerite of England and Queen Sofia of Spain.

 Businessman Bong Daza wears a Pitoy Moreno Barong Tagalog.

Businessman Bong Daza wears a Pitoy Moreno Barong Tagalog. It is likely made of cotton, and it has simple machine embroidery on the band collar and button placket cover and pleats on both sides of the placket. Moreno experimented with barongs making them out of more durable and washable fabrics with simpler embroidery so it would be suited for all climates in the international market.

Former Philippine Airlines chairman Roman A. Cruz in a suit jacket barong by Pitoy Moreno

Former Philippine Airlines chairman Roman A. Cruz in a suit jacket barong by Pitoy Moreno. It is either made of linen or ramie and has front embroidery on either side of the covered button placket. It also features a small round fold-down collar.

Moreno designed the cabin crew uniforms for Philippine Airlines. The men wore a natural beige Barong Tagalog

Moreno designed the cabin crew uniforms for Philippine Airlines. The men wore a natural beige Barong Tagalog with a full button down design, covered button placket, hand-sewn ethnic embroidery, side vents and a small round fold-down collar.

Jose “Pitoy” Moreno sitting in a Barong Tagalog.

Jose “Pitoy” Moreno sitting in a Barong Tagalog. He often wore barongs in photos.

All photos from Visitacion R. de la Torre’s 1986 book The Barong Tagalog: The Philippines’ National Wear.