Whether they are setting the trends, modeling on the runway or dressing up prominent figures, these 12 Latinas are continuously making strides in the world of fashion:
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1. Isabel Toledo
The Cuban designer presented her first collection in 1985, and she’s just as relevant now as she was then. She's dressed Michelle Obama, was the creative director at Anne Klein, and the Fashion Institute of Technology held an exhibit celebrating her work in fashion called “Holy Toledo.” This month she revealed her plus-size collection for Lane Bryant, and it is far from dowdy. Hemlines hit above the knee, silhouettes are figure hugging, and it’s guaranteed to make women feel sexy. “The liberty, the freedom, the right to be eccentric, to be their size, and to have the freedom or the opportunity to enjoy fashion at any size...I can’t imagine not having that, so I feel a duty to provide it,” she told Fashionista.
2. Carolina Herrera
Herrera's gowns belong on the red carpet. They are as classic and beautiful as the Venezuelan American’s signature look. Just this year, she presented a pattern-happy collection at New York Fashion Week and she teamed up with Project Paz, a non-profit organization that helps underprivileged children in Juarez. She created a leather bracele where 100% of the profits went to the charity.
3. Nina Garcia
Project Runway may have made her a household name, but Garcia has been working in fashion since the 1980s. Marie Claire's creative director is so influential that there is even a poster of her in one of the Columbus Circle subway exits in New York. Her Quarterly boxes, a subscription box where she hand picks fashion and beauty products, have quickly sold out. It’s truly impressive how she has managed to extend her reach outside the world of magazines!
4. Maria Cornejo
Cornejo has worked in London, Paris, Milan and Tokyo. She now lives in New York, where she heads her line, Zero + Maria Cornejo. Her philosophy is to create clothing that are timeless, so that women can wear them season after season, which is why Tilda Swinton and Michelle Obama have been drawn to her. She marked 15 years at Barneys earlier this year.
5. Barbara Casasola
After she graduated first in her class at Istituto Marangoni in Milan, this young Brazilian designer went on to work for Roberto Cavalli, Lanvin and See by Chloé. She first presented in Paris, and then made her debut in September 2013 at London Fashion Week. Casasola was a guest womenswear designer for Pitti Uomo, which is usually given to more experienced fashion houses. Her minimal, romantic styles have impressed Vogue, i-D and Style.com. She’s one to watch for.
6. Norma Kamali
The half-Spanish, half-Lebanese designer rose to fame with her “sleeping bag” coat. Her red one-piece bathing suit propelled the late Farrah Fawcett to fame. Many magazines frequently feature her cat eye sunglasses, and Rihanna wore a corset by the designer when she co-starred in “Can’t Remember to Forget You” with Shakira.
7. Joan Smalls
This gorgeous boricua is No. 1 on models.com's list of Top 50 Models. She is currently one of the most in-demand models, and she's walked for Chanel, Balenciaga and Tom Ford. She is also the first black model for Estée Lauder. Smalls has spoken out about racism in fashion and she is opening the doors for the models that come after her.
8. Martha Medeiros
Medeiros is the Queen of Lace! From casual to formal, her lace outfits make an impact. They are, after all, handcrafted by 250 villagers in northeast Brazil. She’s very popular in her native country, but the more than 25-year-old brand has sold at Bergdorf Goodman as well.
9. Melissa Losada and Marcela Velez
The Colombian designers are behind the brand M2Malletier. During New York Fashion Week, street style stars, such as Miroslava Duma, were seen carrying Losada and Velez’s bags. The easy-to-distinguish bags have a gold bar handle that is described as a needle. The handle was inspired by medieval medical instruments. The two women have said they plan to expand into shoes and jewelry next.
10. Yara Flinn
The half-Brazilian designer is often described by one word: cool. She is behind the label Nomia which specializes in minimal and timeless – the kind of clothes you can really wear for years to come. She has made a name for herself with the fashion crowd (French photographer Garance Doré loves her!), but she should be on your radar, too. Flinn is part of the Council of Fashion Designers of America's incubator program, which supports the next generation of designers in America. And unlike the Olsen twins, Flinn has no problem designing for herself. “When you’re a female designer and you design things you can wear, you can really vouch for your work one hundred percent,” she told Shop Ghost.
11. Adriana Castro
Castro's emerging accessories brand has been worn by Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City 2, as well as Eva Longoria, Shakira and Kim Kardashian. Her first collection debuted in 2007, and her popularity has only grown since then.
12. Gisele Bundchen
Bundchen is the highest paid supermodel in the business, a title she's held for seven consecutive years. One year, Nicholas Ghesquière specifically designed flats because she wouldn’t walk in his fashion show in heels. And now, she’s rivaling Victoria’s Secret in Brazil, or at least that’s what Hope, a Brazilian lingerie manufacturer, is banking on. After all, her partnership with Grendene’s flip flop brand, Ipanema, sold $1.6 billion worth of sandals.