International fashion designer Oliver Tolentino, from Orani, Bataan, has been invited to represent the Philippines on Dec. 2, at the ‘1st Thai Silk International Fashion Week’ to be held at the Central World in Bangkok. He will join about thirty designers from around the world that the Kingdom of Thailand has invited to present collections at their inaugural silk fashion week.
It’s the country’s 8th Celebration of Silk ‘Thai Silk Road to the World 2018,’ a project of Queen Sirikit. Oliver was also invited last year, the first FilAm designer to represent the Philippines and created a gown for former LA Consul General, now PHL Ambassador to Thailand, Mary Jo A. Bernardo-Aragon.
“Thailand is flying in former Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach,” Oliver emailed PNews, to walk exclusively for his show, “and me from Manila.” The country is hosting 30 other beauty queens, one from each designer’s country, but Pia will be the only former Miss Universe. “It will be a great honor for Pia and me to represent the Philippines in Thailand just weeks before Bangkok’s Miss Universe competition.” (Thailand is hosting the Miss Universe pageant on Dec. 17.)
Additionally, for the kick-off gala event, Oliver will again create a gown for Ambassador Bernardo-Aragon who will walk the runway alongside about 25 other ambassadors. “She will also escort me,” he added, “down the runway in front of 1,000 attendees, including Thai royals, cabinet secretaries, businessmen and women, and diplomats.”
Oliver will present a 45-piece collection, including 18 pieces made from Thai silk, “some 150 yards,” provided by the Queen Mother’s factory. He also will present piña pieces to the Thai people.
The general public is invited to watch the show from the second level in Central World’s Eden Zone.
Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, Miss Universe 2015 and UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador for Asia and the Pacific, launched an HIV awareness campaign August, 2017, with a public HIV screening in Taguig City, Metro Manila.
“The Progressive Information Awareness campaign, also known as the PIA project,” the beauty queen stated, “aims to inform young people about HIV through social media and informative, youth-friendly videos, as well as to promote policies that will enable young people, particularly from key populations, to access HIV and other key health services.”
#Fearless at any age
Pia recalls challenges in her life in a Facebook post.
“My parents separated when I was 9 years old and by 11, I was the breadwinner for my family. I faced a lot of rejections – either due to my looks or that I was too tall to be paired with anyone. I tried many things including being a waitress, culinary arts and finally realized that my passion was in beauty pageants.
“I started with BinibiningPilipinas in 2013, my very first pageant, where among the 50 candidates I was the 1st runner up but I didn’t receive any crown. In 2014, I was just in the top 15 – I went home with nothing. This was tough to take in as there were also other younger participants but I did not give up. Every morning I would look in the mirror and say to myself that ‘I am Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach and I am Ms. Universe 2015’. This was my dream and I was going to get it irrespective of my age. During the pageant night, I did my own hair and make-up and also chose the color of my gown – blue. I may not be the most beautiful among all the candidates but I was fearless – I had the confidence that the judges saw and they chose me.
“What I have learned is that whatever you achieve is a result of your hard work – age is not a barrier. Confidence is something that you work on – it doesn’t come overnight. It did not happen to me overnight. It took me a long time to realize that I was beautiful because I was rejected, chosen by the judges as a runner up, chosen to be a loser and I eventually found that confidence to live my dream being fearless at any age.” #FearlessAtAnyAge
At the Miss Universe preliminary competition in Las Vegas, Pia had a problem with her gown (“it didn’t fit”) and turned to Oliver, who had a staff rush from his Beverly Hills boutique, the day before, not just the red ‘rescue gown’ but nine off-the-rack gowns to choose from.
“It was a red-orange silk crepe de chine mermaid gown with a bodice fully embellished with red Swarovski crystals and a front slit at the center,” said Oliver. He was skiing in Aspen, Colorado, when he got the distressed phone call.
No wonder Pia considers Oliver her ‘knight in shining armor.”