Marcos launches jewelry collection


MANILA, Philippines -- Imelda Marcos has launched a jewelry line that she describes as both worthless and priceless.

The Imelda Collection includes earrings, necklaces, bracelets, brooches, pins, combs and cuff links made from a combination of glass beads, gemstones and gold-plated chains.

Many of the items feature images of butterflies and shoes, trademarks of the 77-year-old widow of Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

During her heyday, Marcos was called the "iron butterfly" for her ability to get her own way. Following her husband's ouster in a popular revolution in 1986, she was found to have collected 1,220 pairs of size 8 shoes.

Speaking to a crowd of mostly women at the seaside Philippine Plaza Hotel on Saturday, Marcos described the collection as "worthless because it comes from worthless materials, but it is priceless because it is the creativity that's coming from the soul of human beings to bring out what is beautiful and what is God in them."

Marcos said the one-of-a-kind pieces came from her old accessories and clothes, mixed with newly bought stones and other materials.

Each piece carries a message from Marcos saying the item is "guaranteed to tarnish, fall apart, maybe even disintegrate. When this happens, just be Imeldific! Be ingenious and find ways to put it together."

Many of the items were recycled from things she picked up on her travels, while others were fashioned from items the government failed to seize after the family's fall from power.

However, prices for items in the collection aren't for ordinary Filipinos. A hairpin made of olive jade, freshwater pearls, antique French glass, Austrian crystals and woven glass beads with a white gold-plated chain was priced at $116, about half a month's salary for an office employee.

A necklace made from a vintage brooch, glass beads, cat's eye gemstone, freshwater pearls, orange calcite and ribbons costs $312.

Liza Ilarde, editor of JetSet, a travel and lifestyle magazine, said the collection was in tune with the trend in accessory design of mixing semiprecious stones with found objects.

"Personally, some of the pieces are not to my taste although, I'm sure if I look hard enough, I can find something that I'll like," she said.

Astrud Crisologo picked up a $140 gemstone-ringed brooch with a picture of a young Imelda "to wear and to keep." She said she would have paid more for it.

"She's an icon and I love her. I have to own a piece of her. This is a piece of history. It's pop culture," she said.