Manila-based fashion designer Puey Quiñones counts Philippine TV phenomenon Kris Aquino as one of his clients. But you wouldn’t know that from the way he mingled with guests at a photoshoot for a community event in Sydney.  Soft-spoken and quietly observing from the sidelines, Puey’s humble demeanour belies his fashion runway success.

In the Philippines, Puey is well-known, not least for his work as a mentor to an unusual group of students: he teaches fashion and design to prisoners held in maximum security, a story documented in a TV program called Project Bilibid Runway ('Bilibid' means prison in Filipino).

“Every time I travel around the world, I always bring their products to showcase that they are very talented … even though they are incarcerated, they are still talented. It’s about giving them a second chance to show their work,” he said.

Puey is a big supporter of the Philippine textile industry, using local fabric made of pineapple material and silk cocoon – clothing materials that are considered ideal for traditional Filipino costumes, called ‘terno’, and men’s wear called ‘barong’.

A guest of local Filipino-Australian hairstylist and entertainment producer Bhajune, Puey is in Sydney for the fitting of one of his clients, a young bride-to-be.

“I hope to start a business here and penetrate the wedding industry so I think I’ll be coming back and forth,” he said.

Not new to controversy, Puey has had a major setback in his career a few years back but redeemed himself through hard work and persistence. He wants to give back to the people who have been there for him and urged the Filipino-Australian community to support the industry.

“We have a lot of really talented designers already designing for the big fashion houses in Europe and the US," he said, calling the Philippines the melting pot of globally sought-after fashion designers.


Noemi Ognilla

You did great Michelle Baltazar doing an impromptu interview of Puey Quinones in an instant. Knowing he's doing good for the country promoting our local fabric made of pineapple and silk cocoon materials and helping to give a second chance to hard earned prisoners by teaching them his craft and promoting & selling their work deserved respect from us. I could have bought one if I knew it was for a good cause. But we could all be proud that we are promoting our own Filipino "ternos and barongs" every time we need to during multicultural functions and during our celebrations of Philippine Independence and other Filipino events.

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