Slim Higgins show to set the tone for new MaArte Fair 2
Slim in a raffia dress of her own design. Right: her son, Mark Higgins photographed for ANCX by Cyrus Panganiban.

National Artist Salvacion Lim Higgins’ designs among highlights of pioneering arts and crafts fair

Fashion is a big deal in this August’s edition of MaArte
ANCX Staff | Jul 28 2022

The brave and timeless vision of the trailblazing Salvacion Lim “Slim” Higgins will be a highlight of this year’s edition of the pioneering Philippine arts and crafts fair MaArte. The designer and newly-minted National Artist for Fashion began her career after World War II, dressed some of the most important women in the movies and society, and helped educate many Filipinos thru her legendary Slim’s Fashion and Arts School. 

While Slim’s alumni include some of the most respected names in Philippine fashion design, among them Joe Salazar, Cesar Gaupo, Michael Cinco and Joey Samson, the lady herself is a master in making beautiful, fashion-forward clothes. She is known to have reinterpreted the terno by imbuing it with a couture spin, investing it with a draped skirt and a flap that gave the traditional Filipina dress a semblance of movement and therefore modernity. 

Slim photographed with her sister.
Slim photographed with her sister. Photo courtesy of MaArte at The Pen.

Her son, the artist Mark Lewis Higgins, has put together a selection of the designer’s works from her archives that all look like they were designed for contemporary times. These will be exhibited in the storied Peninsula lobby beginning August 15. 

“Slim embodied what we are trying to encapsulate in Maarte,” says fair organizer Trickie Lopa. “She was a creative who could incorporate native elements such as jusi and raffia into everyday wear. Slim could also push the boundaries with her avant garde style because of her background in fine arts—her color palette and texture combination were unique and unexpected.” 

A Slim Higgins dress
A Slim Higgins dress shown at the 2015 Philippine Fashion Week.

Fashion will be a big component of this upcoming edition of the MaArte fair which, since 2017, has been called MaArte at The Pen, with the Peninsula Manila providing it a permanent home. Apart from the Slim’s exhibit, Mark Higgins will be holding a talk August 21 on the Golden Age of Couture at the hotel’s Salon de Ning, exploring the parallel careers of Christian Dior and Slim. There’s also a portion of the fair devoted to the works of an emerging generation of Filipino fashion designers and it’s called PHxMaarte. Twenty three brands will be showcased within this feature including Bagasao, Kelvin Morales, Neil Felipp, Jill Lao, Mich Dulce, Tropik Beatnik and Randolf. The fashion and accessories will be showcased at the hotel’s 5th floor. 

MaArte Fair began in 2009 as a complementary event to Habi, a symposium on ASEAN’s traditional textiles. It has since turned into a yearly event anticipated by both artisans and fans of Filipino-made products from fashion to home accessories. This year’s edition is bringing in a total 94 vendor participants. 

A Slim Higgins dress
A Slim Higgins dress shown at the 2015 Philippine Fashion Week.

Along with Art in the Park, MaArte is the biggest fundraiser for the Museum Foundation of the Philippines and its projects. Very recently, it has funded a six-week training workshop for museum tour guides and is this year sending a conservator from the National Museum to Melbourne to take post-graduate studies on the preservation of art and artifacts. 

The Museum Foundation was also able to build two MFPI halls in two National Museum branches largely from proceeds earned from Art in the Park and MaArte.

For more information and updates, follow MaArte Fair on Instagram @maartefair and Facebook at