JOYCE PILARSKY: The greening of the Global Garden

Written by Edgar Cruz Wednesday, 11 June 2014 00:00

“The fashion of the Roman Era has the most influence on my collection, Empire Goddesses,” couture designer Joyce Penas Pilarsky shares about her 10-piece collection of formal wear presented at the recently concluded Philippine Fashion Week (PFW) Holiday 2014 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City. In that bygone era, all echoed grace, grandiosity and glory.

With its body-hugging silhouettes, some with electric pleats, the collection hinted of a revisit to The Garden as the home and garden of Epicurus outside Rome in ancient Pompeii. Fairly cosmopolitan by Athenian standards, pleasure was the ultimate good there and happiness its end result.

But unlike what Venus de Milo or even Hollywood films might have imprinted in your mind, early Romans leisurely strolled and held conversations among the endemic flowers, towering trees and other exotic foliage. They wore tunics of wool that reached the ground, with long or short sleeves or entirely sleeveless.

Going to the Global Garden, Pilarsky’s vision of a Green Planet where everything blooms and love reigns is translated in her Roman Goddesses collection for partygoers and pleasure seekers. If there is no skin-baring in this collection unlike her previous PFW shows, it is simply a reflection of the way Roman goddesses dressed.

It is also a return to Pilarsky’s signature botanical theme of floral appliqués with hand embroidery to accentuate the beauty of a woman’s body. Clueless of the change of seasons, it is in sync with the earth-friendliness of her fashion mission. If America’s red carpets bloomed “flower power” last summer, hers is a 31/12 code where floral colors and shapes are real, to be enjoyed anytime, anywhere.

With other collections invariably being variations of the minimalist style of trendy couture designers, Pilarsky remains unique by maintaining her maximalist style and exploring its infinitesimal dimensions.

“I heightened each design’s femininity through the use of metallic pastel shades and accents of metallic laces, electric pleated chiffon and tulle fabrics,” Pilarsky detailed. Featuring mostly asymmetrical hemlines, some with diaphanous coats and shoulder drape, cocktail dresses in baby pink, ice blue and other eye-candy colors easily flow into evening wear with much of the romance enhanced.

“My goal is to show how modern women can carry the spirit of true goddesses wearing my collection,” sums up Pilarsky. This intention will return in her next collection with fresh inflections only a female designer is qualified to know and feel.
She accomplished this despite the bi-annual shows’ gimmicky. Imagine a blind model complete with walking stick. Or a signature model wearing an oversized gold-plated crown like a religious icon. Even with the mix of 10-piece collections with full collections of 20 outfits or more, Pilarsky’s collection can be counted as the show’s best for its originality and for keeping with the holiday theme.

And let’s remember: Pilarsky innovated the visibility that designers now enjoy at PFW. In 2010, wearing a black tee and shorts, her own jewelry design crawling up her sexy body, she bowed with designer John Guarnes at the end of their collaborative show. This kicked off her much-anticipated end-of-show bow complete with flying kisses.

The Roman Goddesses collection managed to hold on its own despite the absence of an attention-grabber and of Pilarsky, who was unable to attend due to her full schedule in Germany. A Pilarsky is a Pilarsky, able to stand by itself even without the designer. A cross check was the enthusiastic after-collection applause the show received — a clear approval of Pilarsky’s collection. The journey
Before this show, Pilarsky presented a collection in London, England. In partnership with award-winning prison charity and social enterprise Fine Cell Work, she participated in February’s eighth edition of London Fashion Week’s Ecoluxe Runway and its first-ever EcoLuxe sustainable luxury fashion show. She adapted her signature style for Middle Eastern women in the ecology-oriented fashion show, the United Arab Emirates Green Festival, at the Abu Dhabi Mall, Abu Dhabi. Invited by Future fashion owner Ayesha, she was sponsored by the Philippine Embassy. The festival is an Emirate-wide celebration designed to educate its people about a better way of life under the theme “Live, learn and have fun in a low-carbon world.”

Participants got first-hand experience of all the aspects of a green life, including Eco-Fashion. Pilarsky used natural materials like pineapple, abel Iloco and silk gazar. Her signature fashion jewelry of semi-precious stones blended well with her cosmopolitan Arab woman motive. This followed her banner year, 2013, as a couture designer when she mounted well-received shows in fashion capitals Paris, Germany and New York. Imagine cruising the Seine in a glass-walled boat as Gallic models sashayed in her formal wear, enough to give Pilarsky a high to last a lifetime.

She also received the People’s Choice Award and was named Miss International Ambassador at the 2013 MWI (Magnificent Women Icons) International, the premier pageant for women over 35. If there was a best-dressed award, she could have easily bagged it with her extensive wardrobe; other candidates wished they wore even one of her designs.

She was also declared a Style Icon at the 2013 Best Dressed Women of the Philippines held for the benefit of the Philippine Cancer Society at the Rizal Ballroom of the Shangri-La Makati. The year’s biggest fashion award, Pilarsky introduced her Audrey Hepburn-inspired style, which had undercurrents in her Empire Goddesses collection.

After the rave show at the Brooklyn Fashion Weekend in Brooklyn, New York, the prestigious Filipino-American glossy magazine Who’s Who in America featured Pilarsky as cover story. A four-page editorial spread shows her in the Big Apple’s favorite tourist destinations.

Pilarsky tells writer Maricar CP Campton about her Brooklyn Fashion Weekend collection: “I purposely use local materials because a lot of Filipino women ask for my help to give them jobs as skilled workers. In doing so, these women can send their children to school, and we can further promote Filipino products.” Pilarsky shares her fashion design aim: “Make a woman happy wearing my creation because it gives her confidence by looking sexy and gorgeous, at the same time elegant and stylish.”

Her purpose achieved, no doubt Pilarsky is happiest with the greening of the Global Garden. Joyce Penas Pilarsky’s JPP Daring Collections is located at Scandic Palace, 4291 Emilia Street Palanan, Makati City, Philippines. For more information, visit or or tweet

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