MANILA, Philippines?Tetta Agustin began her meteoric rise in international fashion in the ?70s, as model of iconoclast designer Dante Ramirez in his Malate atelier. Dante would say her size-zero body was perfect for the couture houses in Paris. Tetta had a very coquettish style of modeling, like a Siamese cat doing double turns on the ramp. A cat on a hot tin roof.
Given her youth, sheer determination and life-long luck, Tetta went straight to the House of Givenchy where aristocrat couturier Hubert de Givenchy was dumbstruck with the Asian package, that smile that could sell very expensive clothes in the collection. She was a delight to work with. She was hired as part of the cabine of mannequins who were picked for their innate personality and perfect dress size, to sell to Givenchy clients.
Tetta and Givenchy remain close friends. Givenchy is the godfather of Tetta?s only daughter Tosca. This 19-year-old sophisticated head-turner is a second-year law student, to major in International Law, at the University of Westminster in London. (She went to high school in Switzerland at Le Rosey. In the spring and autumn, Tosca?s classes were in Switzerland. In the winter, her class moved to Gstaad for skiing. Nothing but the best for iha.)
In the mid ?70s, Tetta met Yves Saint Laurent who ?pirated? her from the House of Givenchy. It was Tetta who would make the usually glum Saint Laurent laugh. It is said when Saint Laurent couldn?t create, the Directrice du Cabine would send Tetta to his office. ?Sava, Tetta,? Saint Laurent would ask. Tetta would laugh and answer, ?Saging na saba.?
It was this kind of friendship that made Tetta one of Saint Laurent?s favorite models. Definitely his favorite Filipina model.
Tetta with husband Christian Baverey and daughter Tosca are in town for the holidays. They were feted by a friend from way back in an art-filled residence.
Christian married Tetta in the ?90s; the two had met in the ?70s. ?Se destine,? smiled Tetta.
Tetta also, FYI, was the pioneer Filipina who invented OFW dollar and pound remittances in the ?70s. She started with Pinay housekeepers in Europe. Soon, given her pluck and acumen, she had saved a fortune sizeable enough to invest in prime real estate in London and Paris. (Wasn?t it touted that Tetta was the girlfriend of the president of France, Giscard d?Estaing, in the ?80s? I must ask Tetta this while enjoying the company of revelers in this Christmas party filled with music, laughter and political banter.)
Tetta and Christian live their life following the sun. In summer, they are at home in their seaside Cannes estate to receive and entertain friends from all over the world. When it gets too cold in the south of France, the Bavereys flee to their home in Brussels. But they don?t stay for long. They may stay over in their sumptuous flat in Paris, but only for two or three days. They go to other warm places where heartwarming friends beckon.
Despite the constant movement in their life, Christian did not fail to note that his favorite traveling companion made certain sounds unfamiliar to him at the end of the day?was it a rustle of bed sheets or a clink of beads? He asked her one day. She told him: I am praying the rosary.
And that?s Tetta today: Catching the sun and never letting it go, with Christian and a rosary at hand. Not to mention there?s her and Tosca?s devotion to St. Rita de Cascia, But that?s another story.