Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Filipinos rule Los Angeles Fashion Week “Designer Warz”

Los Angeles, CA – Two years in a row, Filipino designers break through and win the Designer Warz presented by Los Angeles Fashion Week Design Competition (LAFWDC).

Joyce Penas Pilarsky - Awarded a prize package valued at $2,000 and a 4-page spread in NickiiJean magazine on Oct 17th 2015 at KESSPRO Studio as the grand winner of LAFWDC 2015, Joyce Pilarsky, a Manila-based international designer showcased an unexpected yet masterful combination of patterned dresses and gowns as well as laser cut trousers and colorful barongs.  

Inspired by her Philippine heritage, Pilarsky uses only local and naturally sourced fibers found in her motherland. Her eco-approach in garments and accessories was highly influenced by the strict EU environmental regulations from when she first started with fashion industry in Germany.  Thankfully, she is able to compliment it with native elements from the Philippines where organic materials like the traditional sheer jusi (from banana leaf), fine piƱa fabric (from pineapple leaf), translucent silk gazar (a textile popularized by Kate Middleton’s wedding gown) and colorful hand-woven abel cotton are bountiful. 

Sitting up-front I saw how light and comfortable these non-synthetic materials flowed and glittered as the models exuded luxury and confidence on the catwalk.

“My favorite so far is the skirt I made for my finale as I put a lot of time and love and passion and patience in sewing it myself by hand,” says Joyce.

Already with many accolades for her artistic mediums, as Joyce also enjoys photography, sculpting, painting and writing, I asked what her ultimate goal is.  Joyce replied, “We have only one life to live and we have to give our love and passion in spreading Gods love with the use of all the talents and blessings God has given us.”  A philanthropist by heart, her eco-friendly brand provides training and jobs to cultural communities and women workers from different regions of the Philippines. Also in place is the Jocelyn and Gunter Pilarsky Foundation which builds schools for the marginalized children of the Philippines some of which are floating school built for the Manobo Tribe in the marshland of in Agusan del Norte, school for street children in Bustos, Bulacan, and the building of homes and classrooms in Bohol.

Here's a video of Joyce Pilarsky's winning entry:

Veejay Floresca – Well known to Filipino communities in California, the 2014 LAFWDC grand award was given to no less than Veejay Fluoresce last year. Currently pursuing her Masters in Fashion Design at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, Veejay was invited back by LAFW this time as a featured closing designer where she showcased her Spring/Summer 2016 thesis collection, "Reformed." 


‘Twas a total departure from Veejay’s Madore bridal signature of romantic glamour and feminine elegance, the Project Runway Philippines Season 12 alumni displayed a super modern ebony collection with silhouettes of Japanese kimonos and obi. I was in total awe and absolutely in love with this line.  The way Veejay played the loose edgy cuts, geometric shapes, and uneven hemlines, with different fabric textures make it sound like there’s too much going on yet visually, all of these features combined gave this all-black collection perfect depth and architecture! 

The Inspiration

The Vision

The Medium

The dark, but-not-quite-gothic, styling on the runway was spot on and the execution of every garment was flawless! I cannot believe this is a school thesis project!

Photo credits Dave Lohr
Photo credits Dave Lohr

I totally see myself wearing some of these pieces! Whether it is custom bridal wear, red carpet gowns or ready-to-wear clothing, I will not be surprised to see Veejay Floresca’s name along side other major brand names on the main fashion week runways of the world in the near future.

Here's a video of Veejay Floresca's finale presentation:

How about another Filipino designer for a “three-peat” LAFWDC win in 2016?!

In the mean time get your FASH on and make a fashion scene!  Visit and LIKE “Chasing Sheila” on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more chic stories and happenings.

(Photos by Takata Photo & Design, Dave Lohr and Rudy Autor)