Twitterverse isn’t happy about fashion site’s ‘reimagination’ of Imelda Marcos

June 26, 2019 - 12:52 PM
Young Imelda Marcos
Imelda Romualdez Marcos, wife of President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines. (Wikimedia Commons/Stock photo)

A fashion website rolled out a magazine feature perceived online to be glorifying the widow of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos as a “fashion icon” despite her hand in one of the darkest moments in Philippine history., an online fashion and lifestyle website, released its June issue that is a “reimagining of all things Imelda,” particularly her sense of style and beauty.

It justified the concept by saying that everyone wants to reimagine themselves as “beautiful people” and that “it’s a natural thing.”

Some Filipinos online, however, raised eyebrows over the website’s view of the Marcos matriarch.

“This is the Embellished Life. An Icon Reimagined,” the copy of its June issue featuring actress Bianca Umali as Imelda Marcos reads.

Some found the concept disconcerting since it appeared as if the magazine was discrediting the “atrocities” attributed to Imelda, widow of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who imposed a years-long martial law as he clung to power in the ’70s and early ’80s.

There were also allegations that the magazine temporarily blocked a Twitter user’s account for criticizing the concept.

Imelda is recognized for her designer clothes, over-embroidered dresses and for popularizing the modern terno, a combination of the multi-piece baro’t saya.

An international daily newspaper recognized her as an “icon of class and grace as well as a mindless shoe maven,” acknowledging her extravagant shoe collection.

Marcos’ sense of style has also been likened to that of United States’ late first lady Jacqueline Kennedy by Life Magazine.

The matriarch’s “exaggerated expressions of her feminity”—as noted by Los Angeles Times—as well as her political resolve, also prompted foreign journalists to dub her the “Iron Butterfly.”

Extravagant shopping sprees

Imelda Marcos’ penchant for fashion and beauty, however, has a dark side.

A women-centered website under The New York Times described her as the “first lady of extravagance,” including her in its feature titled “5 Shopping Sprees So Wild, They Made History.”

It noted Marcos’ notorious shopping spree in her trip to New York, Rome and Copenhagen during 1987 where she spent $7 million within 90 days. Part of the article reads:

“In a single day in New York, she spent $3 million. Her New York loot included $2 million in fine jewelry and $35,000 on limousines.”

“In Rome, she purchased a $3.5 million Michelangelo painting. Her travel expenses were also extravagant; she once spent $2,000 in chewing gum during a stop at SFO.”

“An airplane departing Rome was required to do a mid-air U-turn because Imelda realized she’d forgotten to purchase cheese.”

Other half of a conjugal dictatorship

Being wife to the powerful Ferdinand, Imelda was also involved in numerous state affairs as an assemblywoman, governor, Cabinet official, ambassador plenipotentiary and hostess.

She was particularly credited for the Manila Film Center tragedy that cost the lives of around 169 construction workers after hastening its building in anticipation of the first Manila International Film Festival in January 1982.

Marcos ordered them to work “three shifts non-stop for 24 hours a day,” according to an investigative report.

“The lobby, for example, was only built in 72 hours, when it should have been erected in six weeks. At about 3 a.m. of Nov. 17, 1981, the center’s scaffolding collapsed, burying around 169 workers alive in quick-drying cement,” the report notes.

“The Marcos administration tried to cover up the accident by not permitting rescuers and ambulances into the site not until nine hours after the incident,” it continued.

She was additionally notorious for collecting jewelry pieces worth P704.8 million that included diamond- and gem-studded tiaras, bracelets and necklaces.

Last year, Marcos was found guilty of seven counts of graft for pocketing at least $200 million of taxpayers’ money when she illegally created several Swiss foundations “for private benefit” during the Martial Law period.