Tonight is the opening night of one of the city’s most exciting recent ventures into the world of style, otherwise known as Latino Fashion Week. Now in its fifth year, an exhibition such as this is very singular and unique to our city. No other city in the country has an exposition so specific yet so incredibly convivial. The sheer nature of making this a Latino event, in fact, invites people of all backgrounds to check it out because of the fact that Latin America has, since it’s inception, been a multicultural society.

This week also consolidates our unique perspective, not only as Latinos but also as Chicagoans. This yearly effort is about the clothes and the Latino culture, sure, but it has just as much if not more to do with this city. No, we are not the same as each other, or other cities, and that is what makes us Chicagoans. We are different from anywhere else and expletively proud of it. In fact, it might be safe to say that we are aggressive and intense in the delivery of our Chicagoan propensity.

However, one constant does remain and that is the cultural and ethnic célèbre at hand. Although there do exist several important and pronounced differences that cannot be ignored, our shared geography, language and allure is something that unifies. This phenomenon allows Latino Fashion Week to be about the clothes, and not about where the designer is from, but where s/he is going.

Last year’s events huddled around the theme of the impact that Latinos have had in the world of fashion. It featured a screening of the documentary I Am the Queen that indirectly described Celia Cruz’s impact on fashion as well as a student competition that was an anticipatory vision of the future of that aforementioned impact. From past to present to posterity, it was a celebration not only of fashion but also of what fashion means for a group that at times can be separated by differences yet those figurative fences are mended, interestingly enough, with the use of simple needle and thread.

This year’s theme is Art in Fashion, which resonates simply with the location at the Zhou B Art Center. Founded in 2004 by the artistic mega-duo the Zhou Brothers, the center promotes events that engage in an artistic and international scope. This year’s event will also see a higher profile, with a guest list that includes Ryan Chiaverini and Valerie Warner, the hosts of mid-morning television’s most recent experiment, Windy City Live. However, that is just the beginning of the local farandula. A full list is provided at Latino Fashion Week’s website. I will also be there, if you care.

Self-deprecation aside, the list of designers this year are very impressive, since as many as 17 designers will be delighting us with their aesthetic creations. From women’s/men’s couture, bridal wear, accessories and the like, before us is the genius that cannot be taught. These men and women factor up to this year’s most creative, stylish and innovative. I can guarantee that you’ll be in for a treat, so check out the program all this week to see these 17 show off their sartorial genius.

Gozamos is no stranger to the Week, this being the second year we cover it. This time around, however, marks an important early milestone in the soon-to-be-storied history of the Week. As with most wooden anniversaries, not only shall this be a celebration of the long path it took to get here, but it will also be a celebration of what’s to come in Chicago’s Latino fashion community. Be sure to check back with us for more.

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