Meet the Latino designer who not only designs for women, but also for pets!
As a latina fashion lover, it is amazing to find latino designers who are taking the industry by storm. This is definitely the case for fellow Puerto Rican, Fashion Designer, Anthony Rubio, who was born and raised in New York City. His designs are not only influenced by his passion for fashion, but also by his love of animals, as well as his latin roots. Anthony Rubio is an Internationally acclaimed Pet Couturier and Women’s Wear designer who has been featured in many recognized publications around world, including The New York Times, Vogue Italia, Glamour Magazine, Time Magazine, to mention a few. His designs just strutted the runway at New York Fashion Week (NYFW) and he is the first and only designer to present canine couture on the historic runways of any fashion week, let alone NYFW. I just had the pleasure to interview him for all of you HipLatinas.
Olga HipLatina: What is your inspiration behind this year’s collection?
Anthony Rubio: For this season, I drew inspiration from different influences and fused them together to conjure up what appeared on the catwalk. I have an affinity to fashions from the 1940’s and 1950’s. I explored those time periods for those time periods in fashion and drew my color inspirations from European Royalty. This is a presentation geared at Fall and Winter of 2017. I chose to infuse deep jewel toned colors in the forms of embroidery and the chosen textiles as well as the hand made flowers I created set against dark backgrounds. Think of it as ‘Night Flowers”.
OHL: How did you go from designing for pets to creating a collection for women as well?
AR: It is funny that the answer to your question is actually the other way around. I studied women’s wear fashion design at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. After rescuing an abused dog I found myself having to reinterpret my design education to the physiology of man’s best friend. I chose to further develop my designing for the safety and comfort of dogs. I completely immersed myself into pet design until the producers of New York Fashion Week contacted me to present my canine designs on their runways with only one condition. That condition was that I had to also design clothes for the female models. I accepted the challenge, rolled up my sleeves and created my first ever women’s wear collection and it was approved and presented during New York Fashion Week. Can you imagine that? Other designers dream, struggle and sacrifice to one day present on the runways of NYFW and I was blessed with this opportunity and along with the canine designs my women’s wear was well received with accolades. I like to say that while in the past the dogs were featured as accessories in fashion, in my show the dogs are the real models and the ladies are the beautiful accessories.
I must inform you that I am the first and only designer to present canine couture on the historic runways of any fashion week let alone NYFW. This show was my fourth season.
OHL: How does your latin culture influence your designs?
AR: As you know, I am of Puerto Rican heritage. I was raised in New York but there was not one night we did not have our arroz con habichuelas. We listened and danced to Salsa and after every Christmas holiday we celebrated “El Dia De Los Reyes”. So how can my Latin culture not be part of my designs? Every women’s wear creation is infused by a little something sultry and Latin. I could see my designs worn while the ladies dance Salsa. Wait a minute, that could be a great idea for my next show.
For the canine designs I use a similar aesthetic using colors and floral prints that remind me of my travels to Puerto Rico.
OHL: As a minority, have you found any challenges to breaking into fashion? How long did it take you?
AR: Honestly speaking I do not feel that my being a minority has had any negative reaction in the industry. If anything I believe it has been acknowledged and celebrated. The fashion industry has become very diverse and celebrates all cultures.
I do have an extensive education and am multilingual. I also do a lot of traveling especially throughout Europe and I have to admit that my culture has always been well accepted.
I have been designing canine couture for 12 years now and women’s wear for the last three years. In this show I introduced my first junior miss design and also my men’s ties.
OHL: Describe your design aesthetic with three adjectives.
AR: Only three adjectives? Original, colorful, and whimsical
OHL: What do you believe are the top fashion trends for 2017-2018?
AR: For women I love to play with skirt lengths. I am infatuated with pencil skirts but also love the new Tea length which means that the skirt hem is ankle length. I do like seductive sheer fashions and there will be huge come back of chain mail which is small pieces of metal linked together to create one solid garment.
For the canines, I like fancy and colorful textiles. Most important to me is the comfort and safety so I seek out flexible stretch fabrics with breathability. I have two dogs and they love these fabrics.
There were also a few particular pieces I created for the women which really stood out. There was only one stand out ensemble which was a favorite. The skirt is in fuchsia and it featured huge clusters of flowers embroidered in metallic gold thread. that skirt was layered over another solid organza skirt of that same exuberant pink.
For the canine models I continued my study into night flowers and also included jewel references and luxurious sequined fabrics. As usual my canine models included rescues and in this case a dog from The Sato project an adorable schnauzer named Boomer saved from the streets of Puerto Rico and now gracing the catwalk of New York Fashion Week. There were also two rescued. Chihuahuas named Yeyush and Rezno who were all too happy to model in my show. Who can forget Henry the rescue who represents Bideawee and adopted by Philanthropist Tod B. Richter.
OHL: What was your most challenging piece and why?
AR: I would have to say that the design worn by Magneto the Leonberger, which resembled chain mail and featured an incredible collar of glass jewels was my biggest challenge literally. Did you see the size of that magnificent creature? I had to hand sew most of that garment and I fused the glass to create that incredible collar. No challenge is too big for me. At least it has not presented itself to me as of yet.
OHL: Do you have a favorite piece?
AR: I actually have three favorites and here is why. A little secret that I can now share, and I know you will get it Jody, was a tribute to a favorite fashion designer I remembered from my much younger years. I was shopping fabrics when I stumbled across two crinkled textiles that reminded me of the timeless creations of Mary McFadden who I referenced for three dresses. They were in shades of midnight blue and one in a blue silver.
OHL:.What was the most memorable part of the show this year?
AR: I think it was all so inspirational but I must point out that for the first time I presented my first junior miss design as modeled by professional child model and super humanitarian Briella Simpson who on her ninth birthday request monetary gifts only to donate the entire amount to animal rescue. She modeled a lovely gown of organza accentuated with tartan.
OHL: If you could give advice to an aspiring young designer, or to your younger self, what would that message be?
AR: My message to a young designer is that the sky is the limit. Follow your dreams and do not be afraid to take risks as long as they are not dangerous. Be creative and more importantly innovative. People love new ideas and want to be the first to wear them. Lastly, I say be true to yourself and defend and sell your ideas and designs as if they are the best anyone can ever want.