In the month or so leading up to Orlando Fashion Week this April, the show’s designers are gearing up to display their one-of-a-kind collections. For this unique runway show, each designer is challenged to create a collection unique to their personal style and featuring a minimum of ten complete looks. I spoke with two of the designers in the mix: Ciara Rodriguez and Raul Castillo, both of whom are deep into the process of constructing their collections.
For Rodriguez, 22, designing originated from her passion for cosplay. Her line, Fashion Fantasy by Ciara, is an expression of this unique inspiration. With two years of designing under her belt, Rodriguez is ready to take on Orlando Fashion Week as her next challenge. Judging by her fearless designs and fantastic styling, audiences will be in for a treat.
When asked about what she would present on the runway, she said, “My style as an artist is to integrate cosplay and fashion together to create a fun and unique style that’s wearable for anyone to enjoy.”
But don’t worry, even though her clothes are wearable, their wow factor on the runway is not hindered in the least—especially considering her tendency to dress models in elf ears, a magical addition to her Japanese-inspired clothing.
“It’s even gotten to the point where people know me as the ‘chick with the ears’ and I secretly love that!” she said, showcasing the lively personality that fuels her design concepts. In fact, when asked about her personal process, she said, “A design just comes to me. For example, just by the environment I can envision the perfect outfit that I would wear and sketch it on paper.”
When asked about Orlando Fashion Week in particular, Rodriguez said she wants to showcase her art to gain exposure. “As a young designer, it’s very difficult to get my designs out in the public eye and this is a great way for me to show others my style and what I have to offer as a designer,” she explained.
Similarly, Raul Castillo, 22, said, “What every designer wishes to accomplish is to have their name out there and to have clients. That’s what I want to accomplish.”
Castillo has been designing for about four years now, and says that his style of tailored outfits juxtaposed with flowing garments is greatly influenced by his outlook on art and design.
He described his process in this way: “I’m an artist and [my clients’] bodies are my canvas.…One of the best feelings as a designer is to see a woman try on a custom-made dress and see her eyes light up and tears start forming. That’s when you know you did a great job.”
This, and the imagination involved in designing, are what Castillo says he loves best about being a textile artist.
As for his process in creating signature looks, he explained, “I usually start with an idea. I use something that inspires me and go from there. Sometimes I do the sketch and sometimes it’s just in my head, and from there I drape the pattern onto a dress form, and then I find the right fabric I need for that design. But most often I already have the fabric in my studio and let the fabric tell me how it wants to be worked.”
As for his preferred fabric to work with, he says silk is definitely the textile he enjoys the most. He cites myriad silks and the endless ways to tranform them as reasons for choosing this fabric as his “all-time favorite.”
While Rodriguez finds her fashion roots in her personal attraction to the world of cosplay, Castillo gains his passion for fashion from his life-long love of clothes and experiences playing with his grandmother’s old Singer sewing machine when he was a child.
No matter where inspiration comes from, it is clear that these two artists have an intense love for what they do. I cannot wait to see what their artistic talent and expertise produces for the runway show this spring.