Photography by Jacinto Ariza

The Show

By Roberto Del Rio

Opening The 5th Annual Latino Fashion Week was The Designer’s Muse event in the Zhou B Art Center. In what could only be described as the interior of a capillary, the runway was furiously working around the second floor of the Zhou B Art Center on Tuesday night. Walking through a steep hallway, the night was abuzz with the likes of the press, Chicago’s brighter faces and style mavens. Of course, fashion stole the show on this opening night, and it was spectacular for the most part. The designers channeled many different eras and motifs that featured models perambulating forward, not only on the catwalk but ebbing and flowing through the prospective passage of time. Those who showed were Jacqueline Amezcua, Goca, Larol Barrero, Que Shebley and Zoë Damacela. They all exploited a lot of ladylike details mixed with strong, nocturnal serrated edges. There were also a couple of menswear pieces courtesy of Que Shebley, perhaps the night’s most noteworthy. All in all, the biggest trends of the night were slits, backless, neutrals and sheer. There was a decidedly ’70s vibe, as well as ’40s-era tailoring.

As far as the actual event goes, the night started with a bit of a snag, as the excited crowd couldn’t contain their disruptive blather and Valerie Warner tried her best to get a hold of starting the show. Eventually the noise came down as Cesar Rolon, Jr.’s voice boomed through the mic, effectively regulating the volume of those in attendance. Christian Rios, who held a book signing and received an award from the Week, also found it hard to project his voice. His guest Nico Tortorella of Scream 4 fame was able to maintain a volume but throughout the night, the reverberations were a bit harsh on the ol’ eardrums.

The celebrity catwalk was a fun intermission between collections with the likes of Aleah Burks-Patterson of WCIU, Angelica Atondo of Univision, Ana Belaval and Lourdes Duarte of WGN, Betzaida Ramirez and Diana Fong of Mega 95.5 FM, David Miranda of 93.5 & 103.1 La Kalle, reality show hosts Frederick Valentin & Melvin Roman Julian on the Radio of B96, Mai Martinez of CBS and also Nicole Suarez who was a finalist in Nuestra Belleza Latina and hails from Chicago. My favorite celeb was Ana Belaval, who was quite cheeky in her usual great humor. The night was a success as everything went mostly swimmingly—if not for a bit of a acoustic problem, but I must have old ears or am going mad. Want to find out what happens next? Stay tuned.

See slideshow of Latino Fashion Week 2011: Opening Night on Flickr »

The Fashion

By Elizabeth Morales

This year’s theme, “Art in Fashion,” came through loud and clear with avant-garde pieces that included three dimensional skirts, as well as a vibrant array of palettes. The night brought many Chicagoans from all paths of the city to celebrate a both diverse and unique perspective in fashion through the eyes of Latino designers.

The show’s opening act was Karol Andrea, which by far was my favorite of all the designers. (Sorry to blow it so early in the review, but I just liked her stuff that much.) Her collection embodied a unique combination of 1940s Hollywood glamour with 1970s disco. Her collection was a unique array of gold fabrics with layers of sheer overlays. However, the true winner of her showing (and in my mind, the entire night) was the gold evening gown, which consists of a dramatic V neck with a thigh-high slit—it exuded such glamour and grace that it would make Bianca Jagger envious.

Following was Seventeen Magazine Girl of the Year, Zoe Damacela. The young up-and-coming designer is known for her fresh and youthful designs that embody the new generation of Latinos. Her collection was a variation of flirty silhouettes with a cohesive pattern that resembled vintage China and was used through out her collection. While her primary ensembles are bridal, prom and quinceañeras, her collection was able to surpass any generation.

After was Jacqueline Amezcua. Influenced by both fantasy and romance, she took the audience through a visual journey of cool palettes to intense color blocking. Her theme of rose-colored dresses as well as the use of rouching and flowers added to the whimsical ambience she was aiming for. Amezcua transitioned her collection from an almost 18th-century romance to a modern-day love affair with the use of red and black; an antithesis to the first pieces that were made up of sheer tulle of ivory, baby pinks and fuchsias. It is evident that the most elaborate work was the scarlet tulle dress that was truly an art form in motion.

Probably the youngest of the designers was Omar Villalobos. The young designer explained how the primary inspiration of the collection was the anatomy of the human soul. The collection took the audience through the journey of one’s persona; from the tailored Mad Men-inspired pencil skirts to the beautiful scarlet gown that was meant to represent the human heart.

The night itself was just a taste of the creativity and innovation of the Latino Chicago fashion scene that incorporates both mainstream American culture while being able to maintain the substance of one’s heritage.

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