Photography by Jacinto Ariza

Last night kicked-off the exciting five-day, fashion-filled events of the nation’s one and only Latino Fashion Week 2012 (LFW). This fall and winter season, the beautiful women of Chicago will be looking trés chic when they sport looks from the talented and local designers who premiered their collections: Ronald Rodriguez, Nelissa Carillo, Sadia Pattison, Noelia Cruz, and Claudia Urrutia (who is a familiar name if you’ve been keeping up with your Gozamos fashion coverage).

Minutes before the show — called “Lights, Camera, Fashion!” — backstage was right on cue looking like a typical fashion show madhouse with models squirming around to get ready, touch ups for hair and makeup, and last minute sewing. Yes, sewing and beading; as if trying to fit a string through a tiny pin isn’t tedious in itself, much less with people yelling “Hurry!” in your ear. Though the last minute arrangements never seemed to phase the designers, who kept their cool composure and were able to give us a few minutes of their time.

See Latino Fashion Week 2012 – Opening Night on Flickr »

Claudia Urrutia

Designer Claudia Urrutia presented her women’s faux fur collections of elegant wool coats, vests, capes and wraps. And in fact, she is now a three-year veteran showcasing her work in LFW. “I’m excited and I’m honored to be a part [of LFW],” said Urrutia. Música bachata was later played as models stomped the runway in an array of faux fur colors from plums to browns to white and exotic zebra and leopard prints. Although anything fur can sometimes give a boxy look, this was not the case with Urrutia’s style. Every model had their waist cinched with a delicate satin ribbon tied into a bow or with a belt, giving justice to their silhouette. For more information on Urrutia’s collection visit her website.

Noelia Cruz

The next designer spotted backstage was Noelia Cruz, also a renowned violinist, who presented her evening gown couture collection titled Será La Rosa from her design label Thais by Noelia Cruz. This line was inspired by the poem “Será La Rosa?” written by Puerto Rican poet Angela María Dávila. The collection really captured the delicate and edgy essence of a rose with lots of reds, yellow-greens, and black in silk organza and satin faced. There were floor-length dresses with either a mandarin collar or off-the-shoulder and strapless styles. A little red number that really called to me was strapless and cinched at the waist with three miniskirt layers that perked it right up. Another very elegant dress was lime-green with silk draping in the front, and as the model turned, the dress exposed a V-back style of skin hugging silk in a darker hue of green. “I am very grateful to Cesar [Rolon Jr.] and Arabel [Alva Rosales] for the opportunity,” said Cruz about participating in the show, backstage with a big smile. In the final walk, Cruz came out with her violin to play along with the music as the models displayed her line. To learn more about her collection, please visit her site.

Sadia Pattison

Women’s designer Sadia Pattison presented her recently launched — as in just three weeks ago — collection called Sofia Azzad. “Sofia is Greek for wisdom and Azzad is Persian for freedom,” said Pattison backstage. Her collection is women’s high-end, luxurious ready-to-wear. Her look is very “sophisticated chic” with lace fabrics imported from France and silks from Italy. There was a lot of black lace on high-waist pencil skirts and tops. An airy strapless silk dress in beige absolutely wowed me with its custom print of purple, yellow, and orange colors that looked like flowing water with every step the model took. “I’m happy to say that all [the clothes] have been hand made here in Chicago. It is important for me to support local labor,” she said. A portion of her sales are donated to The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Pattison explained that she not only wants her client to look good, but to physically feel good too. She had me put my arm through a black silk charmeuse sleeve and O.M.G. (And I don’t even say O.M.G., okay). Check out her line here.

Ronald Rodriguez

Designer Ronald Rodriguez was actually interrupted from getting ready before the show to talk to us. “I am very excited to be [part of LFW] because this is my first time doing my catwalk here in Chicago,” said Rodriguez. His collection is “vintage, avante-garde,” with many looks of the little black dress. His work has a lot of beautiful detail with beading, twinkling sequences, and “sexy lace.” This exclusive designer has been in the business for six years now and only worked with personal clients, such as family and friends. He is now looking to expand his clientele base. For more information, he can be reached via email.

Nelissa Carillo

Nelissa Carillo is the final designer we caught up with. Carillo featured men’s and women’s wear. “My muse was Lana Del Rey and [my designs were] based from her songs,” she said. Her line is “simple, classic girl, meets bad ass guy.” For her collection she used real leathers and furs and flower influences. “Very whimsical. Very story book romance with an edge,” as she put it. The men looked very urban in leather jackets with hoodies underneath, paired with dark and colored denim and acid jeans. Women wore girly black silk dresses or draped neutral-toned tops paired with leather bolero jackets and/or ripped pants in black. Evening gowns with trailing trains were also added to the mix. Carillo began her line last March and went to school in Los Angeles, and is planting her roots here in her hometown. “Chicago is a great base,” she said. To see her new line, go to her website.

Although majority of the designers who presented are just starting their fashion careers, their designs were evidence of their skill and talent. They present years of professional work, and show much promise for the future. The 6th Annual Latino Fashion Week 2012 will have daily events and after parties in Chicago through Saturday.