Tucked in the corner of non-descript central Austin strip center, there’s a creative place where a fashionable spark ignites for those who have big dreams of becoming the next big designer, a connoisseur of fashion or a seamstress to alter your wardrobe. It doesn’t matter what skill level or design taste you have, this place is where you are welcome to “sew” your oats.
School owner Ilonka Soto-Pelyvas (Ilonka SP) was born and raised in the South American country of Chile and knew that a creative career was in her future. “I think I was born a designer, I was born an artist”, added Ilonka. At a very early age, she designed clothes for Barbies and sold the designs at school. A very entrepreneurial attitude at a very young age.
When Ilonka graduated from high school in Chile, she wanted to attend college and study art since she was an accomplished oil paint artist, but she ended up receiving a fashion scholarship and the rest they say is fashion history.
Ilonka joined forces in her early design career with her two sisters creating punk and goth-inspired clubwear and looks for band members. Most of their looks were created from upcycled vintage looks the girls modified and make current. “We got in trouble with my mother because we turned all of her kitchen pots and pans black from the fabric dye”, said Ilonka.
After coming to the United States, living in New York and having the time of her life, she designed more clubwear and eventually moved to Dallas. Corsets, jewelry, bridalwear, more clubwear and costumes for bands was fun for her to expose her many creative outlets. “I was just having fun”, added Ilonka.
The opportunity to move to Austin was presented in 2010 and she would soon find out after attending her first Austin Fashion Week that the city offered more than she ever imagined. “I was so invigorated and excited. It was like everything came back to me. It felt like it was a community”, said Ilonka. It was here that she created more one-of-kind gowns, dresses and costumes for entertainers. One of her most creative creations was a design made out of logos for a client for the opening of The Thinkery in Austin.
It’s obvious Ilonka cares about every student that walks through her door and mentors each one of them to reach whatever goal each student sets. Whether you’re a novice beginner or if you want to take your skills to a professional level, ASFD has a class for you. And don’t worry, ASFD isn’t just for kids, adult classes are available as well.
Classes are held year-round with summer camp being one of their busiest times of the year. Classes are offered in pattern making, draping and illustration and they learn how to thread a sewing machine, learn basic sewing techniques like gathering, box stitch and more. After-school classes are available or enroll in their advanced academy, a program Ilonka started when she took over as owner/director. And as an added exciting perk, the advanced students get to present their own designs on the runway at the annual Austin Fashion Week event. Which is always a crowd pleaser.
Austin School of Fashion Design is located at 6001 Burnet Rd, Austin, TX 78757 512.323.0633
Take a tour of Austin School of Fashion Design