Picture this: Consuelo Vanderbilt, a swan-like figure with blonde tresses and gold jewels, is holding court in the Guggenheim Museum amongst old friends and VIPs alongside legendary Latin music producer Emilio Estefan. Last night, the two joined forces for the first time ever with one mission: to highlight Latino designers from around the world and ignite a broader appreciation of what Latin style and fashion are about.
“We came together because 18 percent of the U.S. market is comprised of Latin Americans, but it’s not given enough attention—it’s not serviced enough,” Vanderbilt, an entrepreneur and longtime society fixture (she’s a descendant of the famous New York Vanderbilt railroad family), told ELLE.com. She was wearing a long black studded cut-out dress from Marc Bouwer, a member of Vanderbilt’s community platform SohoMuse.
Last year, Vanderbilt’s company produced “Ignite the Runway,” which featured designers like Victor De Souza, Argenis, and Manuel Tiscareño, and seamlessly blended technology, music, and art. But this year’s event, dubbed “Latin Ignition,” focused squarely on giving Latin designers a platform.
After an intimate cocktail hour in the museum’s restaurant, guests descended down to the Guggenheim’s Peter B. Lewis Theater for the fashion show, a bijoux space that also served as Jason Wu’s setting for his NYFW show last season. And it was a fitting date for the proceedings, as it took place on the first official day of fashion week and just a few days before the start of Hispanic Heritage Month.
This year’s cohort included four talents: Alvin Valley, Laura Garcia, Nabys Vielman, and Cesar Galindo. Valley showed minidresses with feathers, laser-cut corset belts, and bikinis. One model paired her look with two little leashed dogs to the delight of guests. Garcia, a sustainable designer, exhibited striped sundresses and paisley frocks, while Venezuela native Vielman showcased his flair for pop art and prints. Galindo, for his part, demonstrated his ladylike silhouettes, bold sleeves, and elegant draping. The party continued afterwards with music by Latin rock band Los Rabanes and DJ Hex Hector.
“Emilio is a man that is inspired by discovering talent and helping to nurture talent,” Vanderbilt continued. “And SohoMuse is all about procuring job opportunities, branding, connecting, collaborating, building, and bridging. It’s not just about the designers, it’s about the makeup artists, it’s about the hairdressers…it’s about giving them an extraordinary platform to begin.”
Mario Abad is a fashion writer and editor based in Brooklyn. He was previously the fashion editor at Paper and has contributed to Vogue, W, Robb Report, Fashionista, V magazine, and Forbes. He can also recite every Miranda Priestly line by heart.