Thursday, October 29, 2015


The Nylon Revolution reached its peak in the 60s and 70s as everbody went mad about Mod.  The qualities of synthetic fabrics—from polyester, acrylic to rayon  impacted the fashion industry deeply—they’re soft, light, crease-proof and wash ‘n wear.

Enter Mitsubishi Rayon Co. in the Philippines—the most  popular synthetic fabric manufacturer in the world based in Tokyo, Japan. In the mid 60s, it licensed Continental Manufacturing Corporation, a local company that produced the successful  Cococo and Mimosa thread brands, to manufacture fashions under the VONNEL label.

This 1965 ad featured its first set of clothing—conservative wear that included cardigans and traditional collared shirts for men and women. The ad touted VONNEL as “exquisitely tender to touch….shrink-proof….resistant to moths…stronger than wool…and in enchanting colors.” Pretty much, generic descriptions of machine-made acrylic fibers.

It was only about 2 years after that VONNEL started taking off, as new shapes for knitwear  were achieved by these more mouldable fabrics. The Mod Fashion that was so “in” –styles that included the Carnaby and the so-called London Look—inspired new casual and sporty designs that appealed to many Filipino fashionistas.

Intense marketing campaigns ensured that Vonnel stood for fashions  attuned with the modern life. Advertising focused on the active “swinging” lifestyle of the 60s and early 70s generation—and light, care-free and comfy VONNEL swung along with the “in-crowd”.

At first, the small print ads featured nameless models, but in 1967, VONNEL had Pilar Pilapil, then the current Bb. Pilipinas-Universe—as its swingin’ model.

But it was the 1969 advertising Made-in-Japan advertising campaign that catapulted VONNEL in the minds of fashionable young Filipinos—YE-YE VONNEL! The slogan was was mod…and became even more memorable when said while doing the signature Vonnel “elbow” move with snapping fingers to match! The sensational gimmick was immortalized in a commercial featuring short-haired Japanese Twiggy-look-alike models.

Soon, VONNEL was being "acclaimed by millions" and everybody was doing the YE-YE VONNEL move, that would become a sort of a dance rage. The print ad was localized to accommodate Mod-looking Filipina models led by Jacqueline Nielsen, who sported a fashionable shag reminiscent of Twiggy’s. Soon, she was also appearing in a local Pinoy version, doing the signature VONNELbow move all over the place!

Like all fashion fads, VONNEL would be replaced with new microfibers of superior qualities. Synthetic fibers today have negative connotations, conjuring up images of cheap and scratchy material, with  a limited stretch and no luxurious feel. But for a brief  shinings pell in the late 60s and 70s, the VONNEL Look was the only way to look “IN”. Ye-ye!

TWIGGY, AKA, Lesley Hornby Lawson became a prominent British teenage model of swinging sixties London. She was known for her thin build (hence the name) and her androgynous look consisting of large eyes, long eyelashes and short hair.  She was named "The Face of 1966" by the Daily Express and was voted as British Woman of the Year. Twiggy's look was copied by models around the world--including our own JACQUELINE NIELSEN. This popular Fil-Am model first gained the spotlight when she placed 2nd to Elvira Gonzales (mother of Charlene Gonzales) at the 1965 Miss Press Photography Contest.


  1. Strange, but my mother calls my wife Ye-ye Vonnel and for the longest time I didn't have a clue what she was talking about.