Manila designer Joyce Pilarsky breaks into Boston Fashion Week

Inspired by the 1950s woman. Kate Woodman Photography

Inspired by the 1950s woman. Kate Woodman Photography

By Cristina DC Pastor

A funny thing happened to Joyce Penas Pilarsky on her first visit to the U.S. in 1982.

Her family was visiting Disney and in their excitement forgot where they parked their car. After several hours of searching, they gave up and went back to their hotel. They returned early morning the next day to find their car parked all alone.

Since then, Joyce has never forgotten the U.S. It will be one of the fascinating countries she’d visit several times a year as a fashion designer on the lookout for bold ideas shuttling to Germany and the U.K. before heading home to the Philippines.

This year, Joyce has even more reasons to love America.

She presented her latest collection at the Emerging Trends segment of the Boston Fashion Week on October 10-11 at the Boston Center for the Arts.

According to the program description, “The ‘Emerging Trends’ runway show has grown into multiple fashion markets like Paris, London, and NYC. Now in its 7th year of production during Boston Fashion Week, we bring to you a distinct roster of 11 international designers and brands that will be showcased in this year’s show. This continues to be an extraordinary platform for emerging fashion designers globally to showcase their talent on an 80ft runway in an industrial fashion forward venue in the presence of sponsors, buyers, press, and industry media.”

Joyce’s collection was inspired by the glamorous women of ‘50s. “These are women who love to wear the very sexy silhouette that shape their bodies, women who have the confidence to show some skin,” said Joyce describing who would ideally wear her richly beaded and rhinestoned evening wear. Her Boston collection showcased uneven hemlines that showed a lot of legs. There were vintage touches with a modern twist for accent.

The designer: Fashion blog calls her a 'true visionary.'

The designer: Fashion blog calls her a ‘true visionary.’

“It’s my first time to be invited at the Boston Fashion Week and it’s indeed amazing how they appreciate the creativity we Filipino designers are proud of,” she said.

A lover of nature, Joyce said she gets endless inspiration from the “beautiful trees, the blooming flowers, the humming birds, and the colorful butterflies.”

In her Joyce Penas Pilarsky Daring Collection, she made extensive use of Filipino fabrics like abel iloco, jusi, silk cocoon, and the pina fiber made from pineapple leaves.

“It’s my way of promoting our country, and at the same time supporting the Filipino weavers here who send their children to school,” she said.

Her style has caught the eye of fashion bloggers. Writes “The Joyce Pilarsky line of couture fabrics and creations are both elegant and daring, but also are a nod to traditional Filipino garments.”

Fashion Nexus calls Joyce a “true visionary” of design. “Each of her looks…is one-of-a-kind, unique, special, and so much more! There is no way that the stunning floral creations she sent down the runway were forgettable!”

Joyce has been designing gowns and fashion accessories professionally for more than a decade. Before that, this English major from St. Paul College was styling her own dresses and modeling for Gary Flores at the Hyatt Hotel and Silahis Hotel.

“We were the longest running luncheon shows, and am proud of my experiences,” she said. “That’s why even if I didn’t go to fashion school, I am able through my studies and experiences present my fashion around the world.”

Karl Lagerfeld, known for his coats, jackets and theatrically styled gowns, is her favorite designer. “He has lots of energy and creative ideas.” Also because they share the same birthday of September 10.

For her personal style, she is partial to a softly contoured Chanel suit, but loves to be in a body-hugging mini every now and then. “They’re sexy and elegant like my own creations,” she said.

'I didn't go to fashion school.'

‘I didn’t go to fashion school.’

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