Success By Design

 "My goal really is to show how modern women can carry the spirit of true goddesses when they wear my collection.” (Photo courtesy of Joyce Pilarsky)

"My goal really is to show how modern women can carry the spirit of true goddesses when they wear my collection.” (Photo courtesy of Joyce Pilarsky)

Her work has brought her across the globe, from Germany, Paris, Abu Dhabi and to New York, but for Filipina-German fashion designer-model Joyce Peñas Pilarsky, she attributes it to her drive and positive outlook.

“It is the love I have for fashion that makes me so passionate about it,” says Pilarsky, who has always had a knack for dressing up her dolls as well as her family and friends.  

Pilarsky worked her way up the industry, building her successful global fashion business step by step through the years. She finished her education at St. Paul’s College in Manila in 1976 then went on to work as a fashion model at the Hyatt Regency Manila and Stargazer Silahis Hotel. In 1979, she worked as a flight attendant with Philippine Airlines, moving to Saudi Airlines three years later. This experience gave her wider exposure to different cultures around the world.

For the past 22 years Pilarsky has been living in Germany where she met her husband, Gunter Pilarsky. She makes frequent visits to the Philippines where much of her business is done.

“While I live in Germany, I spend a lot of time in the Philippines because most of my business is done there,” she explains. “I use our products and materials, design it my way and, in turn, promote our Philippine fabrics to the world.”

 Pilarsky's designs are largely rooted in nature and beautiful blooms (Photo courtesy of Joyce Pilarsky)

Pilarsky's designs are largely rooted in nature and beautiful blooms (Photo courtesy of Joyce Pilarsky)

Her move to fashion began with a stint at Philippine Fashion Week four years ago. After two seasons of showing her work, her popularity grew, and she received more invitations to other international fashion events.

Despite her global exposure, Pilarsky speaks proudly of her Filipino background and uses her knowledge of the Philippines and its history to develop her creative designs and collections.

Some of the unique materials she uses are piña (a fiber derived from the leaves of the pineapple plant) and abel (a traditional weaving product of the Ilocos region in the Philippines).

Pilarsky finds that her designs are rooted in nature and beautiful blooms. “This makes me happy,” she exclaims. She feels no pressure to come up with new patterns constantly. “It is about asking fundamental questions – what do women like to wear? What makes them feel young and sexy yet still comfortable?”

 Recent collections showcased during the Philippine Fashion Week Holiday 2014 was inspired by the fashion of the Roman Era. (Photo courtesy of Joyce Pilarsky)

Recent collections showcased during the Philippine Fashion Week Holiday 2014 was inspired by the fashion of the Roman Era. (Photo courtesy of Joyce Pilarsky)

Vibrant colors, extraordinary shapes and forms and traditionally Filipino embellishments characterize Pilarsky’s designs. Her shows consist of presenting casual outfits, fun day dresses and evening gowns with hues sourced from the environment. Her unique collections are daring and provide customers with a level of femininity and sophistication.

Pilarsky enjoys thinking of new ideas and creating designs based on her personal observations and current industry trends. While challenges and hurdles abound, Pilarsky maintains an admirably positive attitude. “In every job, we are faced with difficulty, but that is good because we have to grow. We have to experiment and continuously use our imagination to make people proud of wearing our creations.”

Her tenacity is strengthened by an unwavering faith: “I pray to God for help and wisdom. As long as I give it my best, I know that God will take care of the rest.” Her confidence stems from knowing that hard work is necessary; but she also recognizes the need to stop when all efforts have been exerted.  


Vibrant colors, extraordinary shapes and forms and traditionally Filipino embellishments characterize Pilarsky’s creations.

Aside from her dedication to fashion, Pilarsky is also fond of the beauty industry and was recently given the “Classic Mrs. Asia International Global 2014” award last June 28, 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Mrs. Asia International Pageant looks for “the essence of the modern, empowered women” who achieve balance in their multi-faceted lives.

“We Filipinos love beauty pageants, so I am extremely proud of having been recognized as the first Filipina to win the award,” she says excitedly.

Pilarsky finds herself lucky to have her passions correspond with her lifework. “My advice is to follow your dreams and do what you love to do because this is how you can succeed.”

The fashion designer also remains committed to the welfare of others. With the Gintong Palad Foundation and the Jocelyn and Gunter Pilarsky Foundation, she helps provide children educational opportunities.

“It is important to also think of what we can do for others so that our lives have purpose. Sharing yourself and talents no matter how small brings a happiness that one can never describe. It is one of the most beautiful feelings one can ever experience,” she explains.

 Pilarsky's dresses, unveiled during Philippine Fashion Week, are rendered in body hugging styles and electric pleats, aim to emphasize the beauty of a woman’s body. (Photo courtesy of Joyce Pilarsky)

Pilarsky's dresses, unveiled during Philippine Fashion Week, are rendered in body hugging styles and electric pleats, aim to emphasize the beauty of a woman’s body. (Photo courtesy of Joyce Pilarsky)


 Serina Aidasani

Serina Aidasani

Serina Aidasani divides her time between New York and Chicago. She enjoys deep conversations, mocha lattes and tries to appreciate little joys of the everyday.