Fashion designer Salvacion Lim Higgins named National Artist

SALVACION LIM HIGGINS terno with unique floral embellishments, created in the late 1950s. — PHOTO FROM FACEBOOK.COM/SLIMSFASHIONSCHOOL

FASHION designer Salvacion Lim Higgins (better known as Slim) is now a National Artist, as conferred by President Rodrigo Duterte. This was announced on a Facebook post by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts on June 10.

Ms. Higgins, who passed away in 1990, shared the honor this year with Agnes Locsin for Dance, Nora Villamayor a.k.a Nora Aunor, Ricardo “Ricky” Lee, and Marilou Diaz-Abaya for Film and Broadcast Arts, Gemino Abad for Literature, Fides Cuyugan-Asensio for Music, and Antonio “Tony” Mabesa for Theater.

The post read: “On June 10, 2022, Malacañang Palace, upon joint recommendation of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), officially announced the eight new National Artists by virtue of Proclamation No. 1390.

“The Order of National Artist, established under Proclamation No. 1001 signed in 1972, is the highest national recognition conferred upon Filipinos who have made distinct contributions to the development of the Philippine arts and culture.”

Ms. Higgins was named as a National Artist for Design (Fashion), an honor she shares with Ramon Valera, so far the only other National Artist for Fashion.

Ms. Higgins revolutionized Philippine dress by applying avant-garde couture techniques on traditional Philippine dress, giving the terno and the traje de mestiza a more modernized, streamlined look; and made the clothes have a life of movement of their own.

Her tenure as couturier began in 1947, up until her death in 1990, just days after working on her last dresses.

“Casting off literal interpretations of Filipino and Western fashion, her work helped define modern Philippine couture with three characteristic elements. The first was inventive, often audacious, construction. Her trademark draping accented the female form, yet she also often altered it, through whimsical or geometric shapes,” said a biography of her on a website created for an archival show in 2009 at the National Museum (

She also founded a fashion school, Slim’s Fashion & Arts School, who could count among its alumni such couturiers as Joe Salazar and Cesar Gaupo.

In the school’s official Facebook page, it posted: “Slim’s Fashion & Arts School is deeply honored to announce that our founder, Salvacion Lim Higgins has just been conferred the title of National Artist in the category of Design. The Order of National Artists Award (Order ng Gawad Pambansang Alagad ng Sining) is the highest national recognition given to Filipino individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts and letters.

“Slim’s Fashion & Arts School was founded in 1960, and is now not only the oldest fashion institution in the country, but the only fashion institution founded by a National Artist.” — Joseph L. Garcia

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