Veteran fashion designer Criselda Lontok dead at 81

Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 22 2021 04:33 PM | Updated as of Sep 23 2021 09:25 AM

Criselda Lontok. Photo from her Facebook page
Criselda Lontok. Photo from her Facebook page

MANILA -- Veteran designer Criselda Lontok, who made her mark in Philippine fashion for her classic and timeless creations, passed on at 2:30 a.m. September 22 at age 81. 

Lontok’s son John Fernandez told ABS-CBN News that she died of sepsis. 

Fernandez recounted that his mother showed symptoms of suspected mild stroke at their home in Makati. “Her pulmonary condition was also irregular," he said. 

“Barangay San Lorenzo sent us a rescue vehicle and she was brought to Makati Medical Center. Her oxygen level was stabilized but towards Monday evening, she again had difficulty in breathing," he related. 

“Sepsis was the primary cause of death. Her COVID tests were negative.” 

A former model and beauty queen from Batangas, Lontok was mentored in fashion design by Gliceria Tantoco, the grand matriarch of Rustan’s starting in the mid-1970s. 

She eventually had her own clothing line, which was one of the pioneering and top selling brands of Rustan’s for over three decades. Lontok’s blouses, dresses, gowns, and separates with beautiful prints and designs were a staple favorite of generations of women who favored loose and comfortable elegance.

In his ode to Lontok on Facebook, Fernandez referred to his mom as 
the “first queen in my life.” 

“God can be so full of surprises that I sometimes wonder why Mama? But I have humbly learned to accept His will and respect the greater purpose of this very very sad moment in our family's lives. Thank you mama for the best that you have always given us through your unconditional love. This post proves how wonderful a person you truly are from all the friends that express their love for you. I love you and will miss you terribly! Now you are my queen angel,” he said. 

The Rustia-Tantoco Family and the Rustan Commercial Corporation also offered their condolences to her bereaved children, grandchildren, and other loved ones.

“It was an absolute privilege knowing Criselda,” they stated. “She will always be remembered for her personal touch and incredible attention to detail, as a fashion icon continuously reinventing the Philippine fashion retail industry, and as a loyal and steadfast member of the Rustan family."

The family has set Lontok’s cremation Wednesday at the Heritage Park Taguig, to be followed by a two-day wake at the Capilla of Santuario de San Antonio, Forbes Park until Friday. The family will also post links for the online mass and novena.