Coral Castillo, born in Mexico City, has emerged as an imaginative designer who passionately draws upon her Mexican heritage to craft breathtaking fashion collections.
Her creations are not only a vibrant homage to her cultural traditions and proud heritage, but they also serve as a powerful medium for empowering women. Infused with elements like Otomi embroideries and the intricate art of macramé, her designs masterfully blend the attributes of strength and softness, reflecting her profound connection to her Latin roots and women’s empowerment.
Effortlessly blending strong, delicate, and feminine elements, her collections result in visually captivating pieces defined by bold silhouettes that intricately explore the interplay of textures and layers.
Coral’s fashion journey began at a young age, ignited by her mother’s career as a dressmaker. This passion drove her to create garments, even in the absence of formal design training. In 2005, she embarked on designing for an exclusive clientele, marking the start of her career as a fashion designer. Her success motivated her to further her skills and study fashion at The Art Institute of California – in San Francisco. Since then, her talent and dedication have earned her numerous recognitions, including the prestigious Moss Adams Fashion Innovator award in 2019.
If you’re an a fan of fashion shows, you might already recognize Coral from the Bravo’s Emmy Award-winning competition series, Project Runway, where she made her mark as a finalist during Season 19. Or you might remember her as the winner of episode 5 of Hulu’s STITCHED.
Recently, HOLA! USA had the opportunity to ask this rising designer about how her Latin background influences her work, her creative process, her love for macramé, what she wants to convey with her pieces, as well as what words of advice she has for aspiring Latina fashion designers. Scroll below to read more about her.
What initially ignited your passion for fashion design, and could you share your key sources of inspiration?
My mother’s work as a dressmaker truly ignited my passion for fashion design. Witnessing the magical transformation of a simple piece of fabric into a beautiful dress and seeing the joy on a woman’s face as she slipped into it, deeply inspired me. I yearned to create that same sense of wonder and confidence.
My mother’s craftsmanship and artistry served as a constant reminder of the power of fashion to uplift and transform. It was her influence that ultimately guided me towards pursuing a career in this creative field.
How does your Mexican heritage influence your designs, and how do you ensure that these core values are reflected in your collections?
When I embark on the creative process of designing clothing, I am passionately driven to showcase the profound influence of my Mexican heritage. I draw inspiration from the rich tapestry of traditions that define Mexico, with a particular focus on elements such as Otomi embroideries and the intricate art of macramé, which hails from the heartland of Mexico.
Within these vibrant and ancient techniques, I find a deep connection to the tribal essence that resonates with my Mexican roots. My creative journey is a tapestry woven with threads of inspiration from Aztec theology, the lyrical beauty of Aztec poetry, the resilience of the Mexican revolution, and the enduring spirit of indigenous people from Mexico. My designs reflect this intricate interplay of history and culture, bringing to life a kaleidoscope of bold and vivid colors that contrast with the somber shadows of revolution and the poignant echoes of the Aztec empire’s demise.
“ Each piece I create is a testament to the enduring legacy of Mexico, a land where history, art, and heritage entwine to form a tapestry of breathtaking beauty.”
We love that you use Macramé, what made you start using this textile. Did you have an ‘aha’ moment?
I love using macramé because it allows me to be hands on with my designs and experiment with the texture and layers. The macramé material gives me opportunities to be dramatic with the shapes in my design and lets me play with light and opacity through the weaves as well to create a strong impact.
The pandemic brought with it a wave of frustration as I found myself spending an extended period confined to the walls of my home. It was during this time that I decided to embark on a journey of reinventing my living space, embracing the bohemian decor style. While scrolling through various design inspirations, my eyes were captivated by a stunning macramé curtain that exuded elegance and charm. It was in that moment that a thought sparked within me – “I believe I can create this myself.”
With a quick Google search, I dove headfirst into the world of macramé, learning the fundamental knots and techniques. What I discovered was not just a newfound skill but a therapeutic escape. As I meticulously knotted and weaved, a sense of relaxation washed over me, providing solace in those uncertain times. Soon, my fascination with macramé extended beyond my home’s decor. I noticed its prevalence in various corners of Mexico, where it adorned spaces with grace and creativity. Inspired by this, I decided to integrate macramé into my clothing designs. What drew me to this art form was its inherent strength, akin to weaving an armor of elegance.
“Macramé became more than a pastime; it became an integral part of my creative expression, breathing life into my designs and connecting me to a rich tradition of craftsmanship and beauty.”
Are there any specific messages or emotions you aim to convey through your designs?
I love combining strength and softness in my pieces, mixing structured and feminine elements to give off an ethereal and weightless feel. At the heart of my design philosophy lies a powerful mission – to empower women and ignite a sense of pride in their individuality. I believe that fashion should not conceal but reveal; it should serve as a means to accentuate the unique beauty and strength that every woman possesses.
My creative vision is centered on the idea that clothing should be a source of empowerment, a tool that allows women to embrace their true selves without hesitation. I am not in the business of merely draping fabrics over silhouettes; I am in the business of celebrating them.
“Ultimately, my goal is simple yet profound: I want every woman who wears my creations to stand tall and be proud of who they are. Because true beauty and confidence radiate from within, and fashion should be a reflection of the strength and authenticity that defines each and every woman.”
“My designs are carefully crafted to enhance and celebrate the natural beauty of women.”
You’ve had the opportunity to participate in TV shows like “Project Runway.” How has that experience impacted your career and creative process?
Being a finalist on PROJECT RUNWAY was a transformative experience, filled with valuable lessons that continue to resonate with me. One of the most significant lessons I learned was the power of color. Prior to the show, I predominantly worked with black, but PROJECT RUNWAY pushed me to explore and embrace a broader spectrum of hues without compromising my unique aesthetic.
It allowed me to incorporate vibrant colors into my designs while retaining a sense of strength and identity. The show also sharpened my ability to work under pressure, think creatively within tight deadlines, and collaborate eﬀectively with fellow designers. These invaluable experiences shaped me both as a designer and as an individual, propelling me towards even greater artistic endeavors.
“PROJECT RUNWAY pushed me to explore and embrace a broader spectrum of hues without compromising my unique aesthetic.”
Are there any emerging fashion trends that particularly excite you and that you’d like to explore in your future collections?
As a designer with an ever-evolving sense of style, I find myself drawn to several captivating trends that have been making waves in the fashion world. One trend that has captured my heart is the resplendent use of red. The fiery, passionate hue has me eagerly anticipating the opportunity to infuse it into my upcoming creations. Red, with its bold and timeless allure, promises to make a striking statement in my designs.
Another trend that has me enthralled is the ethereal allure of summer sheers. The delicate transparency of sheer fabrics paired with the intricate charm of macramé tops forms a spellbinding combination. I envision creating stunning ensembles by blending the lightness of sheer skirts with the intricate textures of macramé, evoking a sense of whimsical elegance.
Yet another trend that has piqued my interest is the artistry of sculpted sleeves. The sculptural nature of these sleeves adds a unique dimension to fashion, and I can’t help but consider the creative possibilities they offer. Perhaps, in the near future, I’ll embark on a journey to weave this trend into my designs, crafting pieces that marry modern artistry with timeless elegance.
“In the world of fashion, trends are the canvases upon which designers paint their visions. For me, these trends are not just fleeting fads but sources of inspiration that fuel my passion for creating. Stay tuned, as I explore these trends and transform them into wearable works of art for you to enjoy.”
Can you share a piece of wisdom or key lesson you have learned in your fashion journey that can be useful for Latinas trying to break into the field?
When it comes to advice for my fellow Latinas, there are two pillars I hold dear: hard work and staying informed. These principles have the potential to unlock a world of opportunities and benefits.
First and foremost, I encourage Latinas to embrace the value of hard work. In a world filled with challenges and obstacles, our determination and grit can set us apart. By dedicating ourselves to working harder than anyone else, we not only demonstrate our commitment but also open doors to success that may have seemed out of reach.
Additionally, staying well-informed about everything happening in our respective industries is paramount. Knowledge is power, and in today’s dynamic and ever- changing world, being in the know can make all the difference. Stay curious, stay updated, and stay ahead of the curve. It’s a surefire way to empower yourself and make informed decisions that shape your journey.
So, to all my fellow Latinas, remember this: your dedication and your knowledge are your keys to a brighter future. Embrace the path of hard work, and never stop learning about the industry you’re passionate about. Your potential is limitless, and your success is well within reach.
Also, this is a tip for all aspiring fashion designers. Never be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, always trust your gut and be open to new experiences. For example, I recently partnered with CHEETOS Mac ‘N Cheese to create the CHEETOS Mac ‘N Cheese x Coral Castillo MAC’ramé Collection. That process was both fun and challenging because it was the first time I’ve created shoes and while I’ve made handbags in the past, this was a brand-new item to wrap my creative mind around. Luckily, I’m no stranger to fashion challenges and it was such a rewarding partnership.
“So, to all my fellow Latinas, remember this: your dedication and your knowledge are your keys to a brighter future. Embrace the path of hard work, and never stop learning about the industry you’re passionate about.” – Coral Castillo –