Friday, November 03, 2006

Style Icon #1 Lola Imas

Before I discovered Vogue, everything I knew about style I got from Lola Imas. She was actually my mom's aunt but we lived with her in her sprawling bungalow. She didn't have kids, but she had plenty of nieces and nephews who doted on her. I can say she was the family matriarch. She commandeered the family in her own soft yet steely way, and was looked up to by everyone. She was so fascinating. Up to now, my sister Trina and I wish to grow up into someone like her.

I loved being with Lola Imas. She always smelled so good. Everytime she stepped out of her airconditioned room for breakfast, I would kiss her on the cheek, touch her wrinkly arms (I could still feel the coolness of the room on her skin) and take in her intoxicating scent of Joy (which she told me was the most expensive perfume in the world. "Look at this bottle, its very tiny. You can get a big bottle of perfume for this one" she'd say). She was always impeccably dressed in her house clothes (yes there was such a thing) and was the only person I knew who never left her room without a house coat over her pastel dusters, even if it meant just going to the dining room to sit for a meal or to the terrace to get some sun. She was never one to wear rubber slippers (or "shinela" as my little sister Nic liked to call them when she was a kid). Instead she wore Isotoner totes ballet slippers. She had it in blue terry cloth for her blue colored house coats and in pink satin for her pink themed ones. She really knew the importance of good loungewear, and was always ready to receive guests who would drop by unannounced.

Because she had a cataract, she wore dark glasses the whole day. But that only added to her glam factor. Imagine a well coiffed, immaculately dressed lola wearing shades! How divine! Watching her get dressed for a party was a treat! I would go to her room and observe her pick out a dress and heeled sandals to match. Choosing which jewelry to wear was exciting. My Lola Glory (mom's mom) or my mom would get her jewelry from an undisclosed spot in her room, and she would just pull out a simple but fantastic piece of jewelry to accessorize her outfit with. My, her jewelry collection was very understated, very elegant, and all real! She couldn't be bothered with costume jewelry. When I think about how one of the in-laws went straight for the safe the moment she passed away, that action was the total opposite of all those pieces - tacky and done in bad taste.

Ohhh how I loved her home in San Francisco! I can still remember the address: 2638 Larkin Street. According to (the Russian Hill Neighbors website) it was one of the "comparatively few Victorians on RH -- much of the area was too hilly for early development; then, although extensive development occurred starting in the 1880s, many of the dwellings were destroyed in the 1906 fire." So this was a historical piece of property. (She sold it though when she was too old to travel and none of the relatives wanted to live in the U.S. Such a shame really but its my goal to one day buy back that dear house! Its my Tara!) The view from her home was just beautiful. You could see the Wharf and Alcatraz from there! We would walk down a few steps and we'd be right at the top of Lombard Street, also known as the "crookedest street" in the world. Funny, up until my freshman year in high school I thought that it was spelled Crookedes Street, as in "They live at 1234 Crookedes Street...", duh!

I was never able to spend the last year of her life with her. We were living in Kansas for a time, where my dad was taking further military studies, and she was also staying with my Tita Lita in Alabang. When we got back here she was already confined in the ICU of Makati Med. She wanted to see me, she told my mom and titas as soon as we arrived. I visited her and she was still as beautiful on her bed, with all the contraptions and machines around her. Still my glamorous lola who I love dearly and whose stylish countenance will stay with me. Memories of her elegance are enough to last me a lifetime.

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