Toshimi Pacumbala: From makeup artist to gown designer

Toshimi Pacumbala

EVER since he was a kid, Toshimi Pacumbala has loved fashion. Though he started as a professional makeup artist and salon owner, he had harbored a deep appreciation and delight in making gowns.

Armed with only his basic knowledge about fashion and sketching, he worked hard to make his daydreams more tangible and real, one delicate sketch at a time. His first foray into fashion designing was when he had the opportunity to design a gown for a classmate.  Through the years, his designs slowly but surely took over pageants and runways — locally and internationally.

Pacumbala’s sartorial pieces showcase his fancy for everything grand and whimsy, but what really sets him apart is the intricacy that he brings to his vision of opulence and femininity. This approach has captivated clients from around the world, and it will captivate fashion connoisseurs even more as he participates in the Asia Pacific Fashion Week, an annual international showcase of fashion collections from the Asia Pacific. 

Pacumbala shares his journey to fashion designing:

Asian Journal (AJ): What made you take fashion seriously enough to make a career out of it?

Toshimi Pacumbala (TP): I noticed that fashion usually has an international market, while salons remain local. So there came a point where my clients would see my clothes — clothes that I have designed — and ask about them. I realized that if my clients are showing interest in my designs, then so can other people and that’s when I decided to consider fashion seriously. 

AJ: How did your clients from other countries know about your designs?

TP: I used to take part in pageant shows. I’d be the make-up artist at the same time as the designer for a contestant’s costume and gown. I started posting my designs on Facebook until one day, I was invited by Miss Europe Philippines to be the official designer. Last year, I flew to Europe and I designed the evening gowns as well as the traditional costume. 

AJ: Are you self-taught or did you study fashion design?

TP: I’m self-taught, though I plan to study fashion design someday.

AJ: What’s your favorite part about being a designer?

TP: I mostly design couture gowns. I really enjoy doing the beadswork, as well as sketching and basically, hand-sewing everything. 

AJ: What do you want your clients to feel when they wear your designs?

TP: I want my clients to feel proud and confident when wearing my designs. I also want them to feel that they stand out in the crowd. 

AJ: How do you find influences/inspirations for your designs?

TP: I mostly find inspiration from YouTube as well as other designers. 

AJ: You are part of the Asia Pacific Fashion Week. What made you decide to join this show?

TP: I joined because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and I wanted to showcase my talent. I also think it’s a great way to establish an international market for my designs as well as make friends with other designers and potential clients. 

AJ: Any advice for young fashion designers out there?

TP: Just always work hard and be passionate about what you’re doing. Keep in mind that when you are working on a gown, the quality of it is the most important thing to work on.

Asia Pacific Fashion Week will be held from April 25-May 3 in Los Angeles, California. For more information on events, sponsorships and other opportunities, please visit https://asiapacificfashionweek.com/.


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