Filipino Designer Dresses Oscars Guests

Filipino designer Oliver Tolentino may not have been the ultimate winner of the Oscars Designer Challenge in Hollywood, but he was beaming after the Oscars nonetheless as if he had. “I won the minute they announced I was one of the 9 finalists,” Oliver notes the morning after the Academy Awards. “The publicity was instant and international. Reuters ran an article that mentions me as one of a handful of new designers to watch at the Oscars. Their piece was picked up all over the world by so many publications.” Oliver adds, “I even had a designer whom I admire email me from Europe saying that he’d just seen me on the E! Channel there and wanted to wish me luck.”

In the U.S., Oliver was featured on national TV programs “Access Hollywood” and “Entertainment Tonight.” Los Angeles TV stations KTLA 5 and ABC7 featured him in Southern California, the second largest TV market in America. Not bad for a designer who was born in Orani, Bataan and was in Manila only 8 months ago.

In addition, Oliver found out he was the “winner” in the Samsung 3D Oscars viewing party at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons Hotel. Lawrence Zarian, the style expert on E! and the Style network, hosted a makeover of “General Hospital” actress Lisa LoCicero for the Samsung commercial. Oliver was honored to learn that his gown was selected out of well-known designers when Lawrence “revealed” Lisa’s new look to the invitation-only crowd.

The other reason Oliver is probably feeling like a winner is that after being open only a short time in L.A., he had the opportunity to have about half a dozen dresses of his worn to the 82nd Academy Awards and all the surrounding parties. He also got to attend the Fox Studios after-party in Hollywood and mingle with the stars of all of their films.

 Judy Cairo on the Oscars red carpet, wearing an Oliver Tolentino gown.

Judy Cairo, movie producer of “Crazy Heart” (with 3 nominations) wore a Venus-cut, black tulle gown with hand-cut tulle fringes and beadings all over the body. She wore it to the Oscars, where she was the guest of best actor Jeff Bridges. Judy was so thrilled with Oliver’s work that she invited him to the Fox post-Oscars party where she introduced him to Oscar winners Jeff Bridges and T-Bone Burnett.

Also, at the FOX Party was the cast of “Avatar.” Oliver met the “King of the World” himself, Mr. James Cameron, who was chatting with billionaire and Fox owner Rupert Murdoch. Mrs. Cameron, who is extremely eco-conscious, was thrilled to hear Oliver explain Philippine piña & abaca. She promised to contact him and visit his boutique firsthand.

Leanna Lewis wearing Oliver Tolentino at the Elton John Foundation Oscar Party

Also Oscar night, at the famous Elton John Foundation Oscar party, Oliver dressed Leanna Lewis. Since Ms. Lewis is the organizer/founder of Downtown Los Angeles Fashion Week, it was a real compliment that she chose Oliver out of all the L.A. designers when she needed the right gown to dazzle at Elton John’s always A-List party. She dazzled in a Tiffany blue bustier cocktail dress with matching blue concentric strips around the bodice. She reported that, “Everyone was asking about my dress!”

For the Oscars Designer Challenge voting, Oliver is grateful to his countrymen. “I want all my kababayans to know that I sincerely appreciate every vote they made for my gown. I realize the voting period was very short and a lot of people asked about voting after the contest was already over. If it had been “vote by text,” no one could compete with Filipinos!,” laughed Oliver. He adds, “But seriously, I’m very, very grateful that people, especially Filipinos, took time to vote for my piña & abaca gown. And I want my kababayans to know that I proudly told everyone I was a Filipino and I talked all about our native fabrics. We’ll get them next time if there’s ever a public vote, di ba?!,” laughs Oliver.

Oliver adds with sincerity, “No one should feel bad for me because I feel like such a winner in all of this experience. I had gowns worn to the Oscars and all the parties, and I got to attend a big Oscar party and hold my first Oscar statuette! And it was pretty nice to be able to congratulate Jeff Bridges in person on his Oscar win! I feel like such a winner in my Oscars debut!,” Oliver proudly beams. “I’m already looking forward to next year!”

 Oliver with Zoe Zaldana and Judy Cairo

Oliver with James Cameron and Jeff Bridges

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May 4, 2011 at 3:05 PM

hi mr.oliver omer cristobal from philippines... i really like the way you design gowns/dresses...its inspired me to draw en design too....

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