Photography by Vanessa Valdovinos

Latino Fashion Week’s penultimate event was held at Mercedes Benz of Chicago in West Town on Saturday night was the Passport to Design Fashion Ball. Seven designers were shown and awards were given out. All in all, it was another fantastic showcase of Latino sartorial talent that was heightened to the nth degree by the posh virility of the digs that were about us that night. Here is the rundown of those collections that walked the runway:

Lazaro Perez: Love and Marriage
The recipient of the Lo Nuestro Award earlier that night, he dedicated his bridal line to his late mother who had passed away just a month or so ago. The use of classic Hispanic detailing seemed to mirror the maternal message. In essence the embroidered bridal wear was not revolutionary but did not take away from eh fantastic effort at hand. In the tremendous canitude that tends to be a wedding gown, the understated and intricacy was fully used in an effort to balance sleek modernity with busy traditionalism.

Carlos Campos: Sloane Ranger on Holiday
Loose tops and tailored bottoms, Campos’s collection would have resonated with the Lake Geneva or Lakeview set. An abundance of pastels and some military effects, the very polished and proper look could get a bit stuffy at times. However, what is really on parade here are clean lines and a preppy vibe, reminiscent of early 80s Calvin Klein, or early 90s Tommy Hilfiger (the less appropriated urban years). It was very soft and subtle at times and then strong plaids woke us up again, giving the collection much needed variety yet without any binder.

Jaer Cabán: 20th Century Futurist
The beginning of the show was a bit marred when a model took a bit of a stumble. Despite the setback, she composed herself and began to walk in one of the best pieces seen that night, a dress that more resembled an extremophile’s composition than a dress. The look of it all was very retro-future, harking back the days of space movie costume design. There were also notable elements of an industrial aesthetic with a very muted more-steel-than-metallic palette to the collection. A bit Metropolis and a bit chemical compound, this was the most scientific collection of the night.

John Dunn: Contemporary Sparkle
Where many designers default the sparkle level and simply go with what always has been, the way John Dunn adds luminosity to his creations is utterly inspired. It harks as the most relevant of the collections because of it’s appeal to early 90s elegance. The use of resonance is key in creating a look that is as seminal as it is attention grabbing. The use of translucence and rougher materials in soft cuts added to the juxtaposition featured in a sparkly gold dress which, as the light hit it, gave off a variety of colors.

Gutiérrez-Marcano: Motor Disco
The Dominican duo turned out looks that were very much ferocious and feminine. There was a black lace pantsuit that seemed rougher than it sounds. The whole palette was a greens, blues and blacks. The looks was punchy and in your face and definitely party pieces. The whole collection seemed to scream urban punk, 70s street urchin. It was extreme and practically violent and the most bad ass collection of the night. Guiterrez-Marcano might make a name for themselves as the next Dolce & Gabbana or give them a run for their money. Sexy and sever, I could smell the fumes from the motorcycle engine just now.

Jose Jhan: Cool Perv
The only menswear line to be shown that night, it had also been shown the night prior at Circuit. This was my favorite collection of the night and not only because I’m a duded. The exaggerated piping and collars, the dangling fanny-like packs and the all around 70s western porn director feel was unbelievable. It definitely was the funkiest collection of the night and the most versatile. These are definitely loud pieces that only work for people with a sense of humor. It marries irony and function politely, not in an overbearing way. It was raunchy and haughty in all the right places and never separate from the main theme: 1974.

Magaly Tiburcio: Making Noise
Last but certainly not least was Tiburcio who hails from the Dominican Republic showed one of the most modern collections which rivaled Caban’s in it’s sheer inventiveness and fearlessness. The first dress to walk down the runway swayed noisily as the dangling beads invited themselves to further investigation. The fact that a dress could speak for itself is such an accomplishment. Being the only female designer of the night was a testament to her work as an artist in constructing these dual looks of art and fashion. The piece de resistance however, were Bluetooth-like earrings that sat atop the ear instead of dangling below. The severity of the cuts and cacophony emitted from the vestment are essential in creating a work of art second to none.

There you have it. My feet still hurt from standing for so long in 2 inch platforms (hey, I‘m a dude, when before 1990 the sequel did I ever need to wear elevated heels?).

Until next year Latino Fashion Week (and until Thursday): don’t be a stranger, but do be stranger.

Special Thanks to Arabel Alva Rosales, J.D. and Cesar Rolon for their hospitality and warm candor

See Slideshow on Flickr

Share this! (You know you want to.)

Got something to say? Say it loud!