It’s Hispanic Heritage Month, so what better time to pay tribute to fashion designers whose work deeply reflects their Latin American roots? These talented visionaries show us that when tradition meets modernity the result can be sheer brilliance. So take notes and you just may be inspired to wear your own Hispanic heritage on your sleeve. Literally!
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Oscar de la Renta
A favorite among starlets and the fashion elite, Oscar de la Renta’s glamorous concoctions have always had a deliciously tropical flair reminiscent of his Dominican heritage. His 2012 Resort Collection gives a nod to Picasso’s Cubism with bold geometric prints mixed flawlessly with Flamenco inspired skirts, Matador-style jackets, and wide-brimmed, pompom adorned hats. While straight-off-the-runway Oscar de la Renta is a bit too riche for most of us, you can easily follow his lead—this look is all about silhouette and color. Pair narrow café trousers with a boxy, cropped jacket and go for intense crimson, gold brocade trimmings, and channel your own inner matador. See the entire collection.
This Colombiana beautifully melds traditional, handcrafted textiles with chic, contemporary design. She employs mostly indigenous women and single mothers to sew these gorgeous pieces. She worked with the indigenous Kuna people who live on the border of Colombia and Panama to develop richly layered mola fabric. Take a cue from her Fall 2012 Ethnics Collection and try layering an intricately woven, heavy tunic over a simple, airy blouse. You may be inspired to take up needlework! See the entire collection.
True to her Mexican upbringing, Lydia Lavin incorporates fabrics embroidered by Zinacatán women into her collections. She plays with texture and completely redefines traditional knits. You can infuse your own wardrobe with a dash of Mexican flavor. Keep an eye out for embroidered pieces at thrift stores or flea markets (or, even better, take a jaunt to Mexico). Needlework edging on a peasant blouse can be used to trim the cuffs of last year’s blazer or turned into a pretty belt—a great tailor is every budget fashionista’s best friend!
This is definitely not your grandmother’s crocheted doily! Brazilian Helen Rödel, takes the art of crochet to a whole new level with her vibrant, playful collection of handmade knitwear. So buy some colorful yarn and get to work!
Designer Olga Abadi uses an ancient Mayan folding technique to make these surprisingly chic candy wrapper purses. She has completely transcended the materials, predominantly candy wrappers and soda labels (Project Runway challenge anyone?), by limiting her palette and adding contrasting details.
This Brazilian company partners with renowned designers like Vivienne Westwood, the Campana Brothers, and Zaha Hadid to create whimsical shoes made from recycled plastic. Melissa is extremely involved in promoting the arts and the company has turned the concept of economizing into covetable fashion—no small feat (pun intended!).