Pepito Albert, a stalwart for fine craftsmanship in fashion design, passed away today, May 28, 2023. Rajo Laurel published on his social media a message saying farewell: “My dear Pepito, my mentor, my teacher, my boss, my friend. Thank you for everything. The world truly is less brighter now. I will see you in my dreams.”
Model Apples Aberin also paid tribute via Instagram: “Forever in my heart. Love you Pepits. Rest in peace,” she writes in the caption.
From long gowns to Filipiana wear, Pepito was known for his impeccable construction, attention to fit, and simple ornamentation. His signature look led to a following of loyal clients who were mostly socialites. “Proportion and silhouette must be correct. Details come in later,” he once shared in an interview. “Simple, clean lines, and nothing attention-grabbing are what I like to do; I don’t put too much embellishment.”
Pepito got his start in the industry studying at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. His work eventually attracted publications like Harpers Bazaar, Vogue, Elle, and W. The promising designer lived abroad for 15 years before returning to the Philippines in the 1990s when he began to build his clientele, which includes Irene Marcos Araneta, Maricris Zobel, Kaye Tinga, Monique Villongco, and Rica Lorenzo, who all wore his designs to Bench’s first Ternocon in 2018.
Aside from his excellent eye for construction, Pepito is also known for cultivating good relationships with his clients whom he cherishes as friends. He designed the gown Irene Marcos Araneta wore to President Bongbong Marcos’ inauguration. The President himself also wore two of the designer’s barong creations for the occasion.
Other public personalities who are endeared to him are Xandra Rocha and Korina Sanchez who both tapped the designer for their respective wedding days.
Aside from fashion design, Pepito was also a talented accessories designer, dabbling in both areas prior to the pandemic.
Although Pepito mostly focused on his custom designs, he created collections in recent years as an ode to local fashion. In May of 2022, the designer launched a ready-to-wear collection under Bench’s Katutubo showcase which highlighted Filipino craftsmanship. Comprised of modern separates inspired by Filipiniana silhouettes, it was a hallmark of his definitive design: geometric cuts, subtle drapery, and rich fabrics like taffeta and handwoven textiles.
Pepito also participated in Pinto Art Museum’s Algodon showcase last February of this year. It put the spotlight on Ilocos’ inabel fabric by featuring contemporary designs from Pepito himself, BARBA, JC Buendia, Tonichi Nocom, and Randy Ortiz. Although he released just one design, its impact was undoubtedly powerful: a bell-sleeved inabel top worn bare-chested and paired with a balloon ball gown skirt.
High standards for innovation and a quiet sense of sophistication were just some of the assets that have made him the influential designer that he was–and his impact will continue to shape the industry today.
Our deepest condolences to Pepito’s family and friends. May he rest in peace.