Retail is detail: Criselda Lontok saw the magic in the details

PERSONAL CHOICE - Frannie Jacinto - The Houston Filipino Restaurant Star
September 20, 2023 | 12:00am
Retail is detail: Criselda Lontok saw the magic in the details
Criselda’s haute couture gowns will be auctioned off at Leon Gallery

Criselda Lontok, a beautiful, charming lady who made beautiful clothes, unexpectedly passed away two years ago. Yet, her designs have withstood the test of time — a standout in Rustan’s for over four decades. Generations of women love her feminine and versatile line that can be worn year after year.

Behind this celebrated label was Criselda herself, a woman of grace and charm, who handpicked fabrics, meticulously designed silhouettes, and oversaw the creation of her fashionable pieces. Her career was marked by a genuine passion for her craft, leaving an indelible imprint on the fashion industry.

Rustan’s chairman Nedy Tantoco is proud of the fact that a homegrown brand, Criselda, has always been a consistent bestseller, along with the store’s foreign brands.

To celebrate her enduring fashion legacy, Rustan's management and Criselda's children will hold the “Criselda Retrospective” benefit auction at Leon Gallery on Sept. 21. The event will showcase treasure trove of her haute couture masterpieces. Portion of the sales will go to her favorite charity, Bantay Bata. Major sponsors are HSBC and Givenchy.

I asked three Rustan’s executives about their fond memories of Criselda:

US Ambassador MaryKay Carlson, Nedy Tantoco, Tokie Tantoco-Enriquez

Donnie Tantoco: “Criselda was an ethereally beautiful woman, elegant and mystical but in a very approachable and inclusive way. Underneath her constant calmness, was a woman that wanted to always do better and be better. She was probably my Lola Glecy’s ultimate and best mentee.

“She never let others see her sweat so to speak. But I was privileged to witness her work behind the scenes. She had this rare combination of both aesthetic and business intelligence; very meticulous and decisive. Retail is detail, but unlike other retailers, Criselda saw both the magic, as well as the devil in the details. She had a very disciplined team that she knew how to coach, encourage and inspire.”

Marilou Tantoco-Pineda: “Criselda had her own style so her customers were so loyal to her. She was a major part in making Rustans a go-to for fashionable clothes because she was ‘the’ brand. Everyone loved her as I did.”

HSBC’s Aissa Liboro, Gigay Escueta, Anya Katigbak Cajucom, Denden San Buenaventura, Angelica Gana

Tokie Tantoco-Enriquez: “Criselda was like another sister to me — we would lunch together at least once a month; often calling each other. She would also almost always be in our family events. We had a quarterly lunch group with Tita Mercy Tuason and Tita Ching Montinola. Criselda has made a big impression in Rustan’s with her iconic brand and to this day still performs so well.”

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