Salvacion Lim Higgins

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Salvacion Lim Higgins, known as Slim to associates and friends, was a legendary Philippine couturier and the founder of Slim's Fashion and Arts School in Makati. She was considered as the successor of the first great Filipino haute couture designer Ramon Valera. Lim-Higgins was posthumously conferred the Order of National Artist for Design by virtue of Presidential Proclamation no. 1390, signed on 10 June 2022.[1]

Early Life

Salvacion Lim was born in Manila in 1920 and raised by an artistic family. Her father was a painter. Her mother designed clothes and ternos. So at a young age she developed her passion for art and creation. She would sketch many drawings in her schoolbooks and she would dress smart even at home.

She graduated with a degree in fine arts (major in painting) from the University of Santo Tomas. She went to New York as well as Paris for further studies in fashion design.

Fashion career

In 1948 she opened The House of Slim[2], "Slim" being a contraction of her maiden name. She became known for her collections which featured riotous color and dramatic silhouettes, as well as lavish embroidery and beadwork.

In 1964 she daringly reinvented the Maria Clara by creating an all black and white version for the Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company, which brought Sir Cecile Beaton, the legendary photography and fashion designer, backstage at the New York World's Fair to admire the costumes up close.

A true artist, Slim insisted on having total freedom in dressing up her clients. She deconstructed classic images of Spanish painters Goya and Velasquez. She dressed her clients in space-age jumpsuits. When models were not available, she insisted on draping a mannequin with her dress forms while facing a full-length mirror. She claimed that "You can create a better, more balanced line if you stand behind the dress and face the mirror. You will also see the dress from the wearer's point of view."

She traveled to Paris, searching for inspiration, attending more than 27 couture shows. She sourced the most exotic material for her creations, including pinhead-sized sequins from France, Swiss raffia, branch corals, or Osmeña pearls. She was a perfectionist and was known for her temper when her clothes did not measure up to her standard.

For 5 decades she enthralled Manila's high society with her creations. For Linda Garcia Campos, she created an off-white wedding terno with a 15-meter train embroidered in silk floss cording, nacre straw trimmed with pearls and Aurora Borealis stones. For Chona Kasten she designed a white silk dress with an asymmetrical pouf and a satin train embroidered with silver and white corded loops. She dressed Maribel Aboitiz in a black velvet gown trimmed dramatically with white lace, alternating with a black draping in bows.

She remained in her creative force even until the late 1980s when she was stricken with cancer. In 1990 she created her last collection on the occasion on the Manila Fashion Designers Awards presentation. She died before it could be completed. She was posthumously received into the MFDA Hall of Fame.

In her own words

  • "The less seams there are on a couture dress, the less you cut the fabric, the better the design is."
  • "Zippers should be as strategically hidden from view as possible. When Christian Dior was alive, I saw some of his creations up close. You couldn't even find the zipper!"
  • "There must always be a balance between the top and the bottom of the dress. When the skirt is elaborately cut, keep the top fairly simple. Like a great painting or story, you should know how to edit a dress design properly."


  1. ^ Young Pinoy Fashion website article on Slim's Fashion School
  2. Rojas, Jay and Ricci Enriquez, "A Tribute to Slim" in Mega Magazine, October 1992



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