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PR Newswire (U.S.)

Young Latino Designers Poised To Make An Impression

16 September 2004
Copyright © 2004 PR Newswire Association LLC. All rights reserved. 

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Hollywood's rich and famous rely on Latino designers like Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera and up-and-comer Narcisco Rodriguez to outfit them for big splash events like the Oscars or the Grammies.

So what is it about Latino design that makes it so fun and beautiful to wear?

Young Latino design students at The Art Institute of New York City say it's their culture that is their muse, rich with inspiration in everything from music, dance, language and even bullfights.

Bonnie Assing, a fashion design student, is a mixture of many cultures -- Costa Rican, Native American, Caribbean, and Chinese. In her approach to fashion design, she feels the Hispanic influence is the strongest. Bonnie leans toward ruffles and frills, and strong colors, such as red and black. "I think the Spanish influence is sexy, seductive, clingy." She is sure that some of her background will find its way into her the clothes she will eventually design. "Bullfights, festivals, parades, the swirl of colors will always influence me," says Bonnie.

Another student, Ivette Fuentes, whose family is from the Dominican Republic, sees a significant difference between mainstream and Hispanic cultures. She points out that Hispanic women are not obsessed with being thin. People accept that women are curvy. Designers work around the curves, emphasizing clothes that flatter the figure. Women are proud of their bodies and confident of their attractiveness.

In addition, Fuentes points out that the Hispanic culture is heavily influenced by dance. Clothes are often bright, and they flow with the body. Off-the-shoulder blouses, tiered skirts, a peasant look, are all associated with the dances of Latin America.

She feels that some of these influences will eventually show up in her own designs. "We all incorporate ideas from everywhere, but then we make it our own within the setting of our culture," says Fuentes.

For some design students, like Jessica Caruso who is half Puerto Rican and half Italian, her Hispanic roots influence her fashion choices in more subtle ways. "I lean toward ruffles, flounces, definitely feminine styles," she says.

When asked if there are any special challenges that face Latino designers, fashion marketing student Sol Maria Santiago of the Bradley Academy for the Visual Arts said that it's important to "understand price points and offer the Latino community style and affordability." In addition, says Santiago, Latino designers need to look closely at "patterns and weight of fabric. Latino women like less cloth and design that accentuates curves."

It may be that Latino designers' willingness to embrace a woman's figure in all its shapeliness, and celebrate it with color, cut and fabric is why so many women are attracted to their designs.

Yet according to the 2000 US census, even though there are over 35.3 million Hispanic people living in the U.S., many experts say that this huge market has been largely ignored by major fashion houses.

According to Maria Garrido, a design instructor at The Art Institutes International Minnesota, that may have more to do with education than a lack of interest. "In Puerto Rico for example, there was no such thing as a design school," says Garrido. But she believes that's changing, not just in fashion, but in other areas of design as well. "I see an increasing trend for Latinos getting educations in the arts field."

The Art Institutes system of 31 education institutions is located throughout North America, providing an important source of design, media arts, fashion and culinary professionals. The Art Institutes system of schools has provided career-oriented education programs for 40 years with more than 150,000 graduates. For more information visit The Art Institutes website at .

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CONTACT: Barbara Vilanova, +1-412-242-0796, for The Art Institutes

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