Starting on September 15, Hispanic Heritage Month is a 30-day celebration of Hispanic Americans whose influence, stemming from intellect, intelligence and talent, is widely recognized for enriching society. While great novelists, poets, artists, filmmakers, politicians and innovators receive high praise, it is also worth noting the talents of the world’s most successful Hispanic designers.
Story by Brooke Lynn Decker
These highly sought after designers further enhance the fashion industry with every collection they release, and most of their recognition comes from taking a bow in front of coveted runway show seats. However, the external glamour of the fashion industry and the highly regarded spectacle of Fashion Week cannot be reduced to dry martinis and glossy magazines. While the art of fashion is usually acquired through a few accidental needle pricks and tight deadlines, these names seem to effortlessly impress and excel every year, regardless of the rigor found in their profession.
Oscar de la Renta: July 22, 1932- October 20, 2014
This Dominican Republic-born creative is wildly popular in haute couture. He succeeded in ready-to-wear pieces when he launched his label in 1965. While ready-to-wear garments are apparel that can be found in stores off the rack, he also specialized in couture gowns and feminine suits, which are specially produced to fit a specific client. His high-fashion looks are still seen on Hollywood’s elite during today’s red carpet events.
Cristóbal Balenciaga: January 21, 1895- March 23, 1972
The founder of the Balenciaga house is widely respected for his technique in design, use of fabric and crafting of lines to complement the silhouette of a woman’s body. Born in the coastal town of Getaria in northern Spain during 1895, his legacy still graces the runway today.
Manolo Blahnik: November 27, 1942- Present
The 73-year-old Spanish fashion designer, from Santa Cruz de la Palma was gifted with an eye for bold color and accents. Plus, he continues to adorn his clientele with every high-end shoe collection he releases.
Carolina Herrera: January 8, 1939- Present
Herrera, raised in Venezuela and a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology is mostly credited for her timeless style. “Fashion is always new - it has to be,” said Herrera in an interview with NBC Latino. She has dressed numerous First Ladies, but her most recent creation was seen on Michelle Obama as she exited Air Force One in Havana, Cuba.
Isabel Toledo: April 9, 1961- Present
The Cuban-American designer is presently based in New York City, where she studied her craft at the Fashion Institute of Technology and Parsons School of Design. In addition to building her own line, the award-winning designer is currently contributing to a collaboration with plus-size retailer, Lane Bryant.
Each of these influencers contribute high fashion designs that continually impact the industry. Although the passing of de la Renta and Balenciaga noted the end of an era, their clothing lines are preserved by their successors today. The techniques and concepts introduced to the art of ready-to-wear clothing and couture by these creative minds continue to embolden young designers. Although Hispanic Heritage Month has come to an end, the celebration of these legacies must not be halted.