CRISELDA LONTOK: ONE SPLENDID GRANDMOTHER
An 80-year-old woman should not even wear miniskirts
Just like a select few things that get better as they get older, Criselda, the exclusive clothing brand, has transcended fashion trends and social seasons and is today one of the best sellers at the Rustan’s Department Store.
Like her eponymous brand, Criselda Lontok’s is one name in high society that has endured through decades. In her youth, she became a top fashion model and hers was one of the prettiest faces of Manila. But her social career would not end there. Instead, she would remain in the limelight as a successful designer.
As a young wife and mother who believed she could contribute to the world out there, she applied for a job at Rustan’s. The grand lady of the number one purveyor of luxury in the country, Glecy R. Tantoco, took her in despite her initial doubts as to whether Criselda, who comes from a good family in Batangas and married into another good family from Laguna, would stick it out despite the rigorous requirements of the job.
Thankfully, Criselda proved herself worthy, even as she had had to deal directly with the matriarch, Mrs. Tantoco, who was known to be a tough and no-nonsense boss. In fact, they clicked, as her boss turned out to be a supportive mentor.
In time, Mrs. Tantoco asked Criselda, who was one of the store’s buyers who traveled to Europe and various parts of the world, to start her own line. Today, Criselda’s outfits are a must among Manila’s prominent women who love to wear them not only when attending big parties but also when visiting with friends, shopping at the mall or relaxing with the family at home.
Bonding with her grandchildren
Recently, I interviewed Criselda not so much about her own brand but about how she has kept to her youthful looks and how she has gracefully adopted to her role as a caring grandmother to her eldest son Carlo’s children, Francis, Carlo and Adi; her daughter Carla’s children Sophia, Christian and Thomas who are all living abroad; and her youngest son John’s children, Isabella and Alessandra.
My greatest legacy to them would be the achievement of my success through hard work, passion and staying focused on my goal.
Criselda admitted to us that when her own children were growing up, she “didn’t believe in spoiling them as they would suffer in the long run. But I cannot possibly do it directly to my grandchildren because they have their parents. So I tell their parents that it is not good to spoil them.”
She bonds with her grandchildren by “dining out in restaurants especially on special occasions and we either proceed to Carlo’s house for swimming or go to malls for window shopping.”
While she keeps a low profile and prefers not to party, her presence in Rustan’s product launches and fashion shows is a personal must for her. She also favors dinners with intimate friends and, once or twice a year, attends one of those big annual balls.
Her beauty secret? “On ordinary days,
I sleep early after cleansing my face and applying different creams. Then, I wake up early, do the same ritual, pray and walk for about 30 minutes with my rosary,” she says.
Fortunately for Criselda, who has always been slim, “I have never had any problem with my weight so I just eat a balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, more of chicken than pork and rarely beef.
“Since I’m prone to allergy, I wash my face with Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser and warm Kangen water, followed by Kangen water of room temperature. I find Clarins good for my skin so I apply serum eye cream and day or night cream, depending on the time of application. While doing so, I massage my face using upward motions.”
Always be neat
When it comes to dressing up, she believes, “It is important to consider your age. An 80-yearold woman should not even wear miniskirts...just a little above the knee is permissible but not one that shows her prominent varicose veins and other unsightly parts.”
Anyone of senior age, or any age, for that matter, “should always consider her personality and the occasion when she chooses her clothes. Always be neat and use a little perfume,” she admonishes women who want to be proper and pleasant.
Criselda uses her own brand all the time, whether “for office work, lunch or dinner with friends. I wear Criselda long gowns to formal affairs. This is one way of showing my line. I get good results because some of my friends and even new acquaintances would ask me to reserve that same style for them. I promote my brand by wearing them.”
Dinner and movies
Criselda is one woman of the upper class who has reached a level of success of which she could be proud. This, she attributes to “hard work and passion for whatever I’m doing. I owe my success in the fashion world to the Tantoco family especially the late matriarch, Mrs. Glecy R. Tantoco, who started my line with a few blouses until it became what it is.”
It’s not all work for Criselda, though. She recalls that when friends Mary Prieto and Josie Lichauco were still alive, “we would always watch movies with Offie Recto and Honi Ilusorio and ended up having dinner. Then, Chari Bagatsing would join us.” She still dines out with Offie and Honi, along with with Margarita Sison, Nora Bitong and Buda Samson.
Criselda is a member of Cofradia De La Inmaculada Concepcion, which was founded by the late Meldy Cojuangco, Handmaids of the Lord and Mary’s Way. “We do a lot of charity work in these organizations,” she shares.
Going back to the subject of her grandchildren, this elegant, charming and youthful grandmother says, “I always inject in their minds to stay humble at all times and to respect others whatever their status in life is. And to begin their day by thanking the Lord for all His blessings and always stay close to Him and Mama Mary.
“My greatest legacy to them would be the achievement of my success through hard work, passion and staying focused on my goal. I have served as an inspiration to them and I believe they will always feel proud of me.”
SHE wears her own designs.
RIGHT after a fashion show featuring her eponymous brand.