Designed by Ingrid Frahm
When Oscar de la Renta founded his eponymous label in 1965, he had already fine-tuned his skills under the guidance of couturiers at leading European houses. But unlike many of his contemporaries who followed the same trajectory, his designs highlighted a different perspective. From flowing dresses with ruffles and skirt suits in bold prints and colors, de la Renta riffed off the traditional dress of his native Dominican Republic, imbuing his collections with his Latinx heritage.
Over the years, other talents from Latin American countries followed suit. Carolina Herrera brought the frills and volume of Venezuelan aristocracy to the doyennes of the Upper East Side in the ’80s. Cuban-born Adolfo Sardina also catered to the same coterie during that period, offering bouclé suits in bright hues. And two decades later, Narciso Rodriguez (whose family is from Cuba) and Maria Cornejo (who is Chilean) garnered headlines with their sleek runway presentations.
Latinx designers are continuing to pave new territory within the fashion industry today, bringing the vibrancy, diversity, and inherent pride of their respective cultures along with them. The eclectic array of designers proves the proclamation that Latinx style is much like the Latinx experience—read: far from monolithic—which is exactly what makes this growing group all the more intriguing to watch.
Ahead, see what 12 leading designers have to say about how their heritage informs their collections, and shop their signature pieces.
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I honored my family’s heritage through the launch of my label in fall 2015, after taking over the operations of my father’s ranch in Uruguay. I wanted to create a brand that reflects a slower pace and process: where things are made with care and detail, where tradition is more important than trend, where there is a purpose to every piece.
My commitment is to make a strong and modern collection without compromising my ethics and key values, taking into consideration where materials come from and who is making them—luxury with a conscience, or in other words, honest luxury.
Lawrence Dip Dye Sweater
The Lawrence Dip Dye Sweater in cashmere was made by Manos del Uruguay, a nonprofit that empowers women in Uruguay. As a Latin woman living in New York for the past 20 years, it has informed the perspective that I possess as a creative of these worlds—my native culture and adopted one. My children are born from a first-generation immigrant and proud of it.
Fernando Garcia, Oscar de la Renta
Oscar de la Renta is a quintessential American brand. It’s full of color, femininity, and rich texture. It is Laura [Kim]’s and my job now to make sure it is practical, light, and applicable to the current power woman who inspires us tirelessly.
Oscar taught us the importance of sticking to your guts, and to have a sharp design instinct to focus a collection and develop a precise point of view each time. Given Laura’s and my background being very diverse—Korean and Dominican—we welcome the clash of perspectives into all we do expecting it to deliver something new from it.
Raffia Oath Shoulder Bag
Our bags are doing very well, and this one embodies the house so well with its tropical raffia texture and signature O.
Maria Cornejo, Zero + Maria Cornejo
I was born in Chile and moved to England with my family when I was a child. We were political refugees. My varied career spans London, Paris, Milan, and Tokyo. In 1996, me and my family moved to New York, where I started Zero + Maria Cornejo in 1998. I had the desire to reconnect with my ideas about cutting and construction. At the heart of each garment is a commitment to make desirable fashion for real women that lasts beyond a single season and become cherished items in a woman’s wardrobe.
Since the beginning, the company has been committed to responsible design and its environmental impact. Ecological and sustainable fabrics are used wherever possible, and 84 percent of the collection is made locally in New York City. As a company owned and run by women, my team also continuously looks to develop special collaborations with women artisans around the world.
Denim Artem Jacket
It’s all about ease, cool shapes, and interesting fabrics. I love the idea of a denim suit—it’s so relevant right now to have things that are super easy and cool. Our denim is eco, made with a 100 percent organic cotton, Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Gold Dylan fabric, and it’s also washable.
My vision has always focused on bringing a little of my culture and Latin America to the international fashion scene—a culture that is always vibrant and alluring, elegant, and fun. I’ve always thought that giving back to my country, Colombia, should be at the top of my priorities. The atelier came to life in 2003, and most of the people that started are still with me. I am so fortunate to work with an incredibly talented team who believe in this same purpose and work toward a common dream. It’s truly inspiring.
Cartas Olvidadas Convertible Floral Silk Maxi Dress
The brand became very popular for its ruffles and prints some years ago, but I definitely feel that what represents Johanna Ortiz the most is prints and colors that bring joy and festiveness. The color palette is what I first decide when I’m starting a collection. So, I think this dress is fresh and has an effortless beauty, but is also very versatile in the sense that it can be worn in many different ways and by many different women.
My philosophy remains the same: I’ve always been focused on pure consistent design. While evolving my aesthetic has always been paramount, remaining relevant and remaining true to my vision is also crucial. The idea is to challenge myself with new ideas, new techniques, new materials, and, at the same time, to celebrate the craft and techniques I developed over the past 20 years.
My Latin roots are at the core of who I am as a person and as a designer. I am very proud of my Cuban heritage—it has given me so much. The Latin women in my life—their personalities, their joy, their power—have inspired me throughout my career, and each has influenced my design aesthetic in one way or another.
Contrast Trim Asymmetric Skirt
A testament to the designer’s dedication to beautiful minimalism.
Also, of the most popular scent from his fragrance empire, Rodriguez explains, “For Her is a true labor of love, and something I am very proud of, because I always dreamed of creating a fragrance.”
For Her fragrance,$128, macys.com.
I consider mine to be a luxury brand that innovates and is in constant evolution, but nonetheless remains true to its style. The brand blends tradition and modernity embodied in exclusive pieces and limited editions that have gained popularity among fashion lovers. I think women in search of unique and personal style have found a perfect ally in my designs. I typically work with European fabrics and combine classic and avant-garde elements with sophistication and attention to detail.
When I look back at my career, I am especially proud of being the first Latin American designer to be invited to present within the official calendar of Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks. It felt like a great accomplishment, because I was not the Latin creative director of a European brand, but rather, presenting my own, “made in Colombia” brand.
Ever since I can remember, the cotton blouse has been an essential element in my collections. It perfectly embodies the brand’s casual luxury approach and attention to detail. Season after season, I revisit this piece, and I have presented it in over a dozen different ways: deconstructed, embellished, with bows or artistic sleeves. I like the timeless appeal of it—any woman of any age can wear it. I also love its versatility, as it can be styled with anything from denim to a silk column evening skirt.
I was born in Cali, Colombia, where I founded my luxury ready-to-wear label in 1992. For more than 25 years, I specialized in creating bold yet sophisticated, elegant, and feminine designs for my clients around Colombia and Latin America. I am known for abstract prints, luxurious silks, high attention to detail, and perfect tailoring. My chic pieces aim to empower contemporary women at every age. My atelier is a place where over 50 women who are heads of households and from different backgrounds work and share a passion for fashion, detail, and the craftsmanship techniques used to create every ready-to-wear design under the label.
This item encompasses the strong and bold femininity that my brand is known for—playing with shapes and volume in a sophisticated way.
I was born in Caracas and left Venezuela at an early age to study abroad. After years of working in fashion editorial and in Christian Louboutin’s PR department, I began to suspect that my calling lay elsewhere. I then returned home, and in my father’s industrial design workshop, surrounded by her mother’s creative drive, I forged timeless jewelry pieces that redefined the boundaries of design. My pieces combine multiple influences, from Manhattan’s Art Deco architecture and eclecticism to the landscapes of my youth on Venezuela’s Caribbean coast; at the core of it all stands Peru’s rich pre-Columbian iconography. As a designer, I translate all these experiences into sophisticated, innovative, and uniquely functional pieces.
Oriente Drop Earrings
The Oriente Drop Earrings are the perfect balance of all my creative forces. They are bold and sculptural, yet organic and feminine in a very unique way.
Carolina Kleinman, Carolina K
I was born in Argentina and come from a family whose heritage is steeped in textiles and design. I launched my brand in 2005 after traveling the world to remote regions in Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, and Mexico. Since my vision has always been about creating long-lasting pieces while preserving culture and tradition, it seemed only natural to relocate to the magical town of Tepoztlán, Mexico. I lived there for over 10 years—where had the opportunity to create cooperatives of artisans that have been working with us all year round ever since—and now reside in Miami.
As a pioneer of working with artisans in Latin America, my mission is to continue designing each collection in the most responsible, sustainable way. Traditional craft preservation has always been at the heart of what I do, and each hand-constructed piece is a celebration of these artisanal communities that help bring my vision to life with meaningful styles made through skills that have been passed down for generations. My commitment is to keep supporting over 300 artisans across the globe by providing them with work and better economic opportunities, especially to women cooperatives within these small communities.
The poncho is a piece that brings me back to my roots and is a garment typical of Argentina, Mexico, Bolivia and Peru. We have been doing different versions of the poncho since the beginning of our brand. This Lola poncho is ethically made by artisans in Peru, with natural baby alpaca that is very soft and has handmade fringe on the edge.
Monika Silva, Gauge81
I was born in Bogotá, but currently live in Amsterdam. My know-how was cultivated in my native country, where many extended family members have been successfully involved in the Latin American fashion industry—both haute couture and prêt-à-porter—for two generations.
Gauge81 is a contemporary line for the bold and risqué woman who doesn’t take herself too seriously. The design canvas is clean and minimal, and showcases striking lines, unexpected proportions, and pops of color. The brand is about disruption—futurisms and retroisms, reimagining timeless classics.
Naha Mini Shirt Dress
The Naha Mini Shirt Dress embodies a lot of what the brand represents. It has those masculine shirting elements juxtaposed with a hyper-feminine silhouette. It’s minimal and effortlessly sexy—all signatures of our brand.
Daniela Bahamon, Maison Alma
I was born in Colombia, but grew up in four countries around the region at a time of widespread political and social instability. With Maison Alma, I wanted to craft one-of-a-kind statement pieces that represent the emancipation of Latin American luxury, to bring the Latin American experience from the private sphere to the outside world. My designs are vibrant and sophisticated, and created to endure the test of time. Like certain exceptional pieces of furniture that become family heirlooms, Maison Alma’s garments are made with the best-quality interior design fabrics, becoming pieces you inherit generation after generation. Each garment is made to order and hand-crafted by master tailors in Bogotá, Colombia.
Dos Loros Kimono
The Dos Loros Kimono is part of our classics collection, a fully embroidered statement coat which encapsulates our soul. It is a celebration of nature, exquisite craftsmanship, and timelessness.
Huguette Hubard and Concepcion Orvañanos, Collectiva
Collectiva is a female-centric company, full of emotion and warmth and this comes across in our aesthetic and colors. Femininity, expressed in a pure and simple way is a cornerstone of the brand. Our garments seamlessly combine modern silhouettes with traditional Mexican handmade embroideries and hand-loomed fabrics. There can be up to 90 hours of work in one of our garments—in some cases, even more. For this reason, we are focused on creating effortless, timeless pieces that will always be relevant. We like to think of them as future heirlooms that will be passed on from mother to daughter. But we also want them to be worn with ease in everyday life.
This dress is the perfect combination of exquisite artisanal works and an easy, feminine silhouette. The fabric is loomed by hand, which takes several weeks to make. To us, this is the ultimate luxury.
Aline Dìaz G, Esånt
Born and raised with Mexican roots, my parents taught me to work hard to achieve my dreams. And without a doubt, one of my biggest dreams was always to make my own clothes. In my experience as a designer, I believe in evolution and continuous improvement. Over time, I have found my passion for art and for observation in the simple things in everyday life; the search, recognition, and collaboration of other cultures has become an important key in my creative process. I am a faithful lover of women. I think they are a perfect creation in this world. Dressing them to fulfill a specific or general purpose in life is a privilege and something that I value very much. For this reason, I feel the need to offer them more than a garment, but an experience that lasts.
3D Pocket Long Coat
A fundamental essential for any wardrobe, the Esånt 3D Pocket Coat captures both the minimal and the powerful, as is the ethos of the brand. A mixture of sensuality and strength, this core piece is made to transcend seasonality and make a woman feel powerful, beautiful, and self-assured.
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