“It’s the first time I was asked to wear bondage in a photo shoot,” Pia laughs as she puts on the leather harness over her strapless LBD. The mom of four has a body of a millennial and if anyone can pull it off, it’s her. The self-taught designer is all guts turned glory after glory when she decided she wanted to get into the fashion business. Growing up in Tagaytay, Pia witnessed her impeccably dressed Lola (Grandma) step out of her room every morning to lounge around the house in the prettiest dresses, complete with matching pumps! She also made clothes for Pia and her sister and they were often twinning way before the term was trending. “We never wore jeans, it was always dresses, jumpsuits, skirts. We were the best dressed in our school!”, Pia fondly shares.
She started her fashion career as assistant to Patrice Diaz for four years and joined Speedo where she dabbled in swimwear “to know how it works for the experience” before once again moving to Kashieca assuming a merchandising role. After three years with the company, Pia felt confident enough to launch her own line, joining Philippine Fashion Week in 2007. All this didn’t quench her thirst to explore the world and perhaps one day be known as a global brand so with only four hundred dollars in her pocket, she flew to Australia to pursue her dream. She interned in Mercedez Benz Fashion Week and was dubbed “the most glamorous head intern” by her boss given her already vast experience. This didn’t deter Pia from doing the most menial tasks that were required of interns: picking up garments, steaming, fitting the models and basically be at the beck and call of the organizers. Her resilience connected her to future collaborators and investors, making her one of the most recognizable names in the international fashion scene today.
The Pia Gladys Perey brand has been worn by Hollywood bigwigs but what really shot her to stardom was when Angelina Jolie wore her dress to the Salt premiere in Germany back in 2010. “That was my moment, my debut in the global market. I was five months pregnant with my twins back then and I almost gave birth from the stress!”, Pia recalls. “After that she bought six more dresses, she paid for them even when I offered to give it for free.” Apart from Angelina, Pia has also dressed Demi Lovato in one of her magazine covers and became good friends with supermodel Petra Nemcova, of whom she is still close to and have plans of collaborating with for her humanitarian projects.
What sets Pia apart from most designers is her fierce belief that every woman, no matter what size or shape, should be able to look and feel fantastic whatever she’s wearing— be it a gown, cocktail dress or a glamorous house dress to receive guests in. “The last show I did for my Shape Campaign included real women, transgenders, even a pregnant lady. I mixed it up with real models to boost their confidence even more.” That’s how inclusive Pia is as a person and as a designer. Her beautiful creations go up to a US size 18, not many designers do this, and in fact, not enough. With the shifting of using more curvy models in fashion weeks abroad, she has foreseen the future way before the trend blew up and for this alone, Pia deserves all the credit and love.
In true SOS fashion, I asked two of my friends to model some of PGPs bestsellers. Dara is petite while Alex is curvy, and boy, did they look smashing in everything they put on! It was one of the most fun shoots I’ve ever produced. My favorite part was seeing the sparkle in the girls’ eyes when they saw themselves in the mirror. Every woman should feel this way, no matter what size dress she wears. Come and meet the PGP girls.
Shop her site at http://www.piagladysperey.com/
Alex Lizot Garcia in the Carla pale pink jersey gown.
Dara David Roa in a bright pink Tamara ruffle sleeve top and Tasha tiered skirt.