Mexican designer Christian Cota, 30, is becoming
known as the great promise of Latin American fashion, following in
the footsteps of Dominican Oscar de la Renta, Venezuela's Carolina
Herrera and Cuban-American Narciso Rodriguez.
At his new New York studio, Cota says it is "a great honour" when fashion gurus compare him "with people of such stature."
"I design for a feminine woman who appreciates art a lot, either as a profession or as a hobby," Cota said in an interview with dpa.
In the beginning of this month, Cota was presented as one of the participants in the Fashion Incubator programme of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), which seeks to support the next generation of designers in New York.
"At the time when I enrolled in this project, our brand was doing very well in the media, sales were up as well as our presence in Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale's, but we wanted to cut costs and to balance the purely creative part with the entrepreneurial one," Cota explains.
"The company was at a point at which it needed orientation."
Over the next two years, CFDA will supply to Cota and 11 other emerging designers a workshop and a show room in the Fashion District, training and advice. Mentors will help them make decisions such as, in which businesses to invest, in which fashion shows to participate, or whether it is a good idea to open their own shops.
Cota fans include the actresses Elizabeth Banks, Eva Longoria and Eva Mendes, as well as the singers Carrie Underwood, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift.
But the real turning-point for Cota took place at the presentation of his autumn-winter 2010 collection in New York, where US Vogue editor Anna Wintour showed up by surprise.
"The funny thing was that in this collection, all the women wore wigs with the same haircut as Anna Wintour, although I did not do it thinking about her. I had not even realized (the similarity). In fact it took me a moment to realize she was there. I gave her a tour (of the collection) and she liked it. She backed me since the beginning and I began to get more involved with CFDA. And everything began to change."
"When you are alone, you need to take many decisions and you can make mistakes. The good thing about the programme is, than when you are under the CFDA umbrella, every decision I take is assessed by great professionals," says Cota, who earlier worked for Venezuela's Angel Sanchez.
For Cota, the main challenge of a young designer is to "decide where to put the money. In this first phase, neither the biggest show nor the best models necessarily help you grow."
Cota first studied painting in Paris and it was not until towards the end of his stay in the French capital, where he spent "the best times" of his life, that he began to be drawn to the world of fashion.
"I felt like a part of me was missing, the most entrepreneurial part. I then saw Balenciaga (a fashion label) in Paris and I saw what could be done in the world of fashion, above all with technology: you could do art and turn it into a business. It struck me that companies like Prada and Balenciaga do not only design, but also create new tissues and textures."
Faithful to his roots, Cota said Latin America plays an "important" role in his creations, characterized by "strong colours with a lot of patterns" inspired by "the contrast between light and shadow" typical of the Impressionist movement.
"I believe they are also tonalities that have to do with Mexico: the sun, the sunset, the forest, the desert, the sea. My colours are always inspired by them."
Cota says he does not want women to "be afraid of colour." Women should be "creative, elegant, dynamic and coquette. That is the part of the Latin American woman that inspires me, who is prepared day and night for the possibility that she will meet her future beau," Cota says.
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