Narciso Rodriguez, fashion designer extraordinaire, will be one of the honorees at one of Latinos’ biggest nights happening tomorrow: the annual El Museo Del Barrio gala. Julianna Margulies will present Rodriguez with the award for artistic achievement to honor his career and longtime patronage to El Museo del Barrio. Rodriguez is definitely a designer that we are proud to call our own, so we took some time to chat with him about being honored by this Latino institution and his roots.
You’ve been honored several times for different accolades and awards. How has being honored by El Museo Del Barrio been different for you?
“I’m very proud of my heritage, so to be honored by such a special place means a great deal to me. It’s such a beautiful institution and there is such great warmth and sense of community with so many cultures that come through that museum. I try to be there for El Museo to support their cause, not for just Latinos, but for anyone who needs some inspiration and education in their lives and they’ve been amazing at it.”
Do you remember the first time you learned about El Museo del Barrio?
“Yes, it was ages ago. I remember going up there with a friend before it was even renovated, and being completely fascinated by this beautiful museum. And now we’ve seen El Museo’s gala become one of New York’s more important evenings.”
Speaking of your background, how has your Cuban background influenced your work?
“I think all the beautiful women that I was fortunate enough to grow up around, like my aunts, had great style and carried themselves with a certain kind of confidence that influenced me.”
“It was much more about the simplicity to their style. There’s this photograph of my mom in a red dress very fitted constructive slim and tiny with spaghetti straps and red lipstick and black hair and that’s it. It’s so stunning because there’s a simplicity to it that’s so beautiful. So many great memories like that… it inspires any designer to dress women.”
What was the first piece of clothing you were proud of?
“I made myself a white linen suit when I was a teenager. I learned how to tailor when I was a teenager so I made a suit.”
Did you ever think of doing men’s clothing?
“We did for a short time… 2006 and 2007...around there. We did it for two years.”
Would you like to go back and do it again?
“I would love to do it again. The economy came and we had to focus on women’s and other parts of the business. Some day we will do it again.”
If you weren’t a fashion designer what would you be?
“Smart! (laughs) If I were smart I wouldn’t be a fashion designer I would have listened to my parents and been a doctor or lawyer. I would probably be a photographer or architect.”
How did [your parents] react when u told them u wanted to be a fashion designer?
“Not well. You know being a fashion designer is tough for Latin parents to understand. They saw someone who was very serious about what they wanted to do so they eventually came around and supported it.”