MANILA – Two key figures in the cancelled Los Angeles Fashion Week show featuring Filipina models gave their sides of the story on Thursday.
From the get-go, the statements of For the Stars Fashion House founder Jacob Meir and Art Hearts Fashion International president Erik Rosete already rest on opposite ends of the scale.
Rosete claimed that he cancelled the event – which included singer Kiana Valenciano – not because he did not like the idea of having Filipina models on the runway, but because of Meir’s alleged debt amounting to “almost $100,000.”
"This has nothing to do with race, color, or gender," Rosete, who produced the show, said in an e-mail to ABS-CBN News. "This has to do with the fact that Jacob Meir owes us close to $100,000 for shows he has not paid for in the past two years."
"I cancelled the show because he (Meir) did not respect us as a production and was pocketing money on the side," he added.
But Meir, who regularly hosts events for Filipino designers, said it was he who decided to not push through with the event, and that he had Rosete’s text messages to prove it.
"I can show this to everyone," he said in a phone interview with ABS-CBN News, referring to the text messages. "He clearly did not want any of the Filipino girls to walk in the show."
Meir added: "The reason I cancelled the show is because my assistant called me and told me that Erik Rosete is very adamant… he doesn’t want to let these girls in."
"He (Rosete) said, ‘Call me, urgent. I’m trying to fix the situation.’ How is it possible that he will call me if he cancelled the show?"
As for his so-called debt, Meir said: "I wasn’t obligated with any money to Erik Rosete. If anything, we were invited to do the shows to help him… If I owe him $100,000, would he invite me to another show, and another show, and another show? No."
Meir and Rosete also had conflicting versions of the incident, with the former claiming that the Filipina models were left humiliated and in tears.
“They said they’ve never been so humiliated in their life. They were in front of my assistant, crying,” he said. “For the pageant girls, it’s the third incident with Erik Rosete that they were cast aside like they are not important and they don’t belong. This is the third time that it’s happened.”
Meir’s statement was consistent with the latest Instagram post of artist-manager Angeli Pangilinan, who recalled the ordeal of her daughter Kiana and the other models in the show.
“Seeing makeup artist Cherry Ordoñez cry as she relayed how shabbily former Miss Earth Jamie Herrell was treated and how humiliated the five Filipina models were after being rejected with an announcement ‘No Filipinas will walk’ saddened and angered me,” Pangilinan said.
Rosete, however, was firm in saying that none of the Filipina models walked out and that they “waited patiently” for him to “find a solution.”
“I feel horrible for the lovely young girls and you can ask any of them. I went back to them and spoke to them about finding a solution,” he stressed.
Rosete said one-third of the designers in his team are of Filipino descent, so he had no reason to discriminate against the models.
“I apologize for any miscommunication, but I do not want to be treated unfairly. I not only helped create the first-ever Filipino Victoria’s Secret model, but also had her as the opener to my big debut at New York Fashion Week… My production manager has a son who is Filipino,” he said.