Iris Gil is an artist whose discerning eye and talent creates wearable works of art for women. For example, he designed the gown worn by Miss Hawaii Filipina when she won the crown last July in Hilo. More recently, one of the winners at the recently concluded Maria Clara Ball last September 1, wore one of his black and purple creations. His gowns are so versatile since it can be worn as a contemporary sleeveless gown, or with the butterfly sleeves of the terno, or with the bell sleeves and panuelo of the Maria Clara gown-three outfits for the price of one.
Last August 24, Iris spent some time at the FIlCom Center to install the indigenous fabric exhibit at the Tech Room. One part of the room contains the weaving of the north while the other has displays of the fabrics common to the south. Some of the items on display came from his extensive collection of fabrics and costumes from the Philippines.
Iris was born in Olongapo City, Philippines, but traces his Visayan origin to his paternal grandfather, who was born and raised in Palompon, Leyte. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and minor in Fine Arts at Mission College, California. He also received an Associate Degree in Fashion Design at Los Angeles Trade Tech College.
In 2001 he moved to Paris, France and attended Ecole Chambre Syndical dela Coutre, a premier fashion school in Paris. While in Paris, he worked as a Design Assistant at Haute Couture House and at Malhia Kent Fabric Design House that designs apparels for Dior, Chanel, Valentino, among others. He also did theatrical costuming for stage plays.
In 2004 he moved back to the U.S. and worked in Interior Design in Dallas, Texas for one year after which, he moved to Hawaii in 2005 and settled in Hawaiian Paradise Park where he opened his own business, Iris Gil Design, a dress shop specializing in Filipiniana and Hawaiian attire. Iris had been designing dresses for over 15 years and in interior design for over six years using fabrics from India, Japan and Philippines. His love for Filipino fashion and culture led to Habi at Baro exhibit, which he set up by himself at Wailoa Center in Hilo for the whole month of May in 2010. The exhibit created interest and excitement in the community such that he was requested to set up a similar exhibit at the Lyman Museum for a month, UH-Hilo in October to December 2011, UH-Manoa in September to December 2012 and at Hale Halawae in Kona during the “Paskong Pinoy” celebration. He also conducted a workshop called “Pinay Dressing-Wearing Culture in Everyday Apparel” for the Filipino Association of University Women at their annual event.
Moreover, Iris has been the costume designer of historical costumes for the Royal Court of the Merrie Monarch festival for the last five years and unselfishly shared his talents with the Hilo Orchid Society by designing the floral displays for its annual Orchid Show, which is the oldest and the largest orchid show in the State.
With his strong desire to promote Philippine culture and tradition to the Filipinos in Hawaii and to the general public, Iris is very busy working in obtaining funds and collaborating with various organizations for future Philippine culture exhibits/presentations at the FilCom Center, Bishop Museum, East West Center at UH-Manoa and the public schools.