MANILA (Reuters) - After rummaging through her long history as a self-styled icon of beauty, Imelda Marcos launched a line of costume jewelry on Saturday recycled from the less expensive bits of her own collection.
The former first lady of the Philippines, famous for amassing shoes by the hundreds and gems the size of grapes, has turned old buttons, beads, pearls, shells and embroidery into necklaces, brooches and bracelets with a modern touch.
“You don’t have to be young, you don’t have to be rich to be beautiful,” Mrs. Marcos, accused of looting up to $10 billion from her impoverished country together with her late husband, told reporters at a hotel in Manila.
During the height of the Marcos regime, Filipinos coined the word “Imeldifico” to describe acts of excess.
But the Imelda Collection, she said, is “worthless because most of it is coming from garbage, and priceless because it comes from the creativity and ingenuity of every human soul”.
She added she was concerned about the threat of nuclear weapons on Mother Earth and the future of today’s youth.
The 77-year-old, often seen at high-society events in Manila, currently faces dozens of criminal and civil cases but denies the charges and accuses successive Philippine governments of persecuting her into near-poverty.
Her late husband Ferdinand as ousted as president by a popular revolt in 1986, and died in exile in Hawaii in 1989.
She returned to the Philippines two years later, running unsuccessfully for president but winning a term in Congress.
Mrs. Marcos has said her line of accessories, which include a few bags and shoes, will be affordable to the masses.
But for now it is not being sold in stores. The Web site www.imeldacollection.com offers a glimpse for interested buyers, who must make an appointment.
“I think Imelda has lost touch with reality,” said Loretta Ann Rosales, a left-wing member of Congress who was arrested and tortured during the Marcos era. “She doesn’t understand what hunger is.”
The collection is being produced by her daughter Imee Marcos, a congresswoman, with youthful input from her grandson Martin “Borgy” Manotoc, an underwear model and possible candidate for mayor of Manila in elections next May.