updated 24 Dec 2010, 04:38
user id password
Fri, Nov 26, 2010
Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN
Email Print Decrease text size Increase text size
Body jewellery for all ages
by Marge C. Enriquez

AT 56, model-turned-artist/designer Joyce Peñas-Pilarsky still elicits admiring glances and wolf whistles.

During this interview, she was clad in a brown-striped micro-mini that revealed her long, slender legs. The dress complemented her creations-chandelier earrings, chunky bracelet and brooch, all made with agate, crystals, acrylic and pearls.

"I could write a book about how to stay young," said Pilarsky who claimed she's for all-natural beauty and that her pictures don't need digital enhancement.

Instead she would rather focus on her budding designing career.

Pilarsky recently had her third outing at the Philippine Fashion Week. As one of the featured designers in "Whisper Presents," she launched her dress collection and her body jewelry which are extensions of her taste.

The clothes were figure-skimming and revealing, some with subtle embroidery and sequins. The designs were meant to be worn with her one-of-a-kind body jewelry.

The gem pieces were made from spirals and coils of stainless steel with mother-of-pearl shaped like petals and leaves, capiz, crystals, amethyst and turquoise.

Some looked like body armors with foliage designs; others were wraparound arm and leg bands. An oversized necklace resembled a breastplate of flat curlicues of hammered wire with cut pearls and agate.

Her floral neckpieces were chains of delicate pearl leaves attached to blossoms of semi-precious stones, all fashioned from looped wire. The smaller pieces, bracelets and neckpieces resemble clusters of ivy or creepers.

"My pieces are heavy but I like them," Pilarsky said. They definitely appeal to the woman (or metrosexual) who wants to make a theatrical entrance.

The more graphic necklaces are spiders spinning webs, eagles, lions and snakes. "I laid out the pattern and the stones and worked it out," she said. "They were laden with mother-of-pearls and acrylic stones so that they won't be too heavy. They were exaggerated for the fashion shows. For me to sell, I make smaller pieces that can be worn everyday."

To foreigners, the most salable are the white pearl sets which seem exotic to their eyes. The prices range from $20 for small earrings, $50 for a bracelet to $1,000 for the body armors.

Modeling days

Pilarsky has a degree in education from St. Paul's College. Charo Santos-Concio was her batchmate in 1976. Since a teacher's salary was low, she decided to try modeling. She bravely rang up Auggie Cordero, who dominated the design scene in the '70s, and asked him about joining his Hyatt fashion shows.

Auggie recommended Gary Flores, the fashion show director. Flores was impressed with her long proportions and svelte frame that he immediately hired her.

After doing Hyatt's daily lunchtime fashion shows for two years, she realized that a model's life was short. She was facing competition with younger faces and new beauty queens.

Pilarsky then applied as a stewardess for Philippine Airlines and subsequently Saudia. Between trips, she would take up painting courses at the Philippine Women's University.

For the past 20 years, Pilarsky has been married to a German businessman and lives in Karlsruhe, a city in southwest Germany. Through time, she has worked as a ramp model, joined international art exhibits, ventured into ceramic-making and sculpture.

Her friends jested that when God was spewing talents, she was right in front of him. Pilarsky would rebut that she earned it by studying her crafts and honed them. "I didn't waste time," she said.

Beauty Secret

Pilarsky has been making her own jewelry for a decade. "I like winding wire," she said. Every time she visited the Philippines, her designer friends would compliment her jewelry and encourage her to make a career out of it.

She collaborated with designer and longtime friend John Guarnes. In the past two seasons, she has been accessorizing his collection.

Now Pilarsky is out to brand her products under the label JPP. The clothing and accessories are made in Guarnes' workshop.

Her jewelry is anything but simple; nearly every piece consists of hammered, bent or wound up steel wire. Pliers marks are evident on the unpolished surfaces. The elements are linked with loops, bound with snippets of wire. The elaborate cuff bracelets are pieces of twisted and flattened wire, mounted with her signature pearls and stones.

In both technique and design, Pilarsky aspires to be flamboyant.

For her ready-to-wear, Pilarsky plans to target the German clientele although she'll scale the designs to their preferences. Women of a certain age and body type have been asking her to design clothes that will make them alluring.

Starting her own fashion business is a dream she wants to achieve before reaching 60. But how does she manage to look 20 years younger? Her answer is simple: "I smile all the time. I always look at the positive side of everything no matter how difficult the situation. And, I don't compare myself with anyone."

Pilarsky said that she eats little and mixes all the creams that she applies on her face. Well, so do other attractive women her age who diet, exercise and indulge in moisturizers.

"What's their state of mind?" she said. "You may slather yourself with creams but how do you feel inside? If you get angry, more lines will come. Everything begins with attitude."


readers' comments

Copyright © 2010 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.