Fashion and design enthusiasts recently had a glimpse of the amazing life and work of Salvacion Lim Higgins: National Artist for Design at SM Aura Premier, the first showcase in a mall celebrating the fashion designer’s visionary work from a career spanning over four decades.
Curated by son and artist Mark Lewis Higgins, the exhibition featured a breathtaking selection of gowns and archival photographs highlighting the preeminent designer’s creative genius and legacy.
In June 2022, Salvacion Lim “Slim” Higgins was honored as a National Artist in the Design category. The Order of National Artists Award is the highest national recognition given to Filipino individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts and letters.
She is the only Filipino designer with gowns in the archives of both the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. and in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
The exhibition opening was graced by no less than Presidential sister and art advocate Irene Marcos-Araneta, who was joined by friends of the designer’s family, members of the fashion and arts communities, and Slim’s Fashion and Arts School faculty and alumni. Guests were seen admiring the collection of gowns and dresses which showcased Slim’s enduring signature style: groundbreaking yet timeless design, intriguing silhouettes, and exquisite technique.
These included a reproduction of a white fringed terno created for First Lady Leonila Garcia in the late 1950s featuring the original lace trim; a reproduction of a Siamese-inspired coat and gown created in 1956; a newly restored gown from 1967 which was modeled by Maja Salvador for the cover of MEGA magazine in August 2022; a reproduction of a pale magenta terno with a cascade of sunburst pleats created in the early 1970s; and a reproduction of a spectacular red gown pleated to perfection created in 1978.
The exhibition also featured a selection of breathtaking photographs featuring gowns and ternos worn by the fashion icons of their time: Edith Nakpil Rabat, Chona Recto Kasten, Lily de las Alas Padilla, and Diana Jean Lopez.
Born in Legaspi, Albay in 1920, Slim studied Fine Arts at the University of Santo Tomas under National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco, but never finished her studies due to the outbreak of WWII. In 1947 she opened the Slim’s atelier, and in 1960 founded Slim’s Fashion & Arts School with her sister Purificacion Lim, which is today headed by Mark Higgins as director.
As the oldest fashion institution in the country, it has mentored tens of thousands of designers all over the Philippines. Alumni include fashion luminaries Oskar Peralta, Joe Salazar, Cesar Gaupo, Oliver Tolentino, Albert Andrada, Joey Samson, Martin Bautista, and Michael Cinco.
SM and the Slim’s Fashion & Arts School have had many exciting collaborations over the years, notably in exhibitions of the works of graduating students which were held in premier SM Malls.
Salvacion Lim Higgins: National Artist for Design is one of the exciting fashion events at SM Aura Premier.