Clint Ramos had met Imelda Marcos before, according to The New York Times. The former First Lady of the Phillipines had visited his high school and pinned medals on distinct students. When the 2013 Obie Award for Sustained Excellence in Costume Designer winner was asked to design for Here Lies Love, a production that both celebrates and critiques the Marcoses, Ramos had to recall her charming spirit and glamorous sense of fashion.

Known for her excess and grandiose style, Imelda Marcos infatuated the citizens of the Phillipines, inspiring fashion trends galore. Ramos understood that the Steel Butterfly, as she has since become known because of her knack for surviving the periods of turmoil in her life, came from humble beginning; consequently, she zealously dove into the glitz and glamour of the highest finery once she had the means to do so.

Ramos dressed the young beauty queen in a modest frock for her first appearance on stage. As Imelda grows in power and esteem, so do her costumes, which become louder and flashier, almost (purposefully) tacky, according to Ramos, but with due grace.  Ramos’ designs include a hot pink ball gown adorned with satin roses, a cream-colored likeness of her actual wedding dress, brocade day coats and silk taffeta gowns embellished with the classic butterfly sleeves of the era. Ramos also dresses her in a shimmering gold dress made of plastic for a night at her beloved disco.

Ramos tells The New York Times:

“I wanted to have fun with image of Imelda but at the same time not demonize her.”

To read the full story, visit The New York Times.