PEPITO ALBERT was also one of Leon Gallery’s guest curators during the 2020 lockdown. — FACEBOOK.COM/LEONGALLERYMAKATI

FASHION designer Pepito de Leon Albert, a fixture in Manila high society having designed outfits for some of Manila’s best-dressed women, died on May 27.

Mr. Albert was a long-time friend of the current First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos, and one of his last big projects was designing the inaugural outfits of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and Ms. Araneta-Marcos last year.

“Hello friends and family. It is with a very heavy heart that we need to let you know that Pepito passed away peacefully tonight,” said a message from his family making the announcement. “As you all know, he has been battling colon cancer for almost two years. Today, he joins Ramon, Mommy, and Daddy in heaven. While we are very sad, we are consoled in the knowledge that he is in a much better place free from sickness and pain. We will reach out again to provide you with details on memorial services.”

The message was forwarded to BusinessWorld by a publicist connected to Mr. Albert, who last worked with him at the Algodon fashion show held at the Pinto Art Museum earlier this year. Mr. Albert was absent from the show (a source told BusinessWorld that Mr. Albert was “recuperating,” but preferred not to say why), but his lone outfit, the show’s finale, showed off 1990s model Jo Ann Bitagcol in a jacket with wide bell sleeves and a voluminous black skirt.

Mr. Albert promoted the use of local fabrics and techniques in his designs, with local piña a staple in his clothes.

Born on Christmas Day in 1959, Mr. Albert was educated at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, California, returning to the Philippines in the 1990s. Since then, he has designed the gowns of a number of people in the political and social sphere. A favored designer of presidential sister Irene Marcos-Araneta, he also designed outfits for actress Dawn Zulueta-Lagdameo, the spouse of Special Assistant to the President Anton Lagdameo. He also designed the wedding gown of Korina Sanchez-Roxas in 2009, the news anchor-turned-spouse of politician Manuel “Mar” Araneta Roxas II, a cousin of the current First Lady and once-head of the Liberal Party.

In an Instagram post, fashion designer Rajo Laurel said: “My dear Pepito, my mentor, my teacher, my boss, my friend. Thank you for everything. The world is truly less brighter now. I will see you in my dreams.”

In an interview with the Philippine Star’s Lifestyle Editor Millet Mananquil last year, he said, “I need to do something positive to fire my creative energy once more.” — Joseph L. Garcia