In commemoration of the 2017 International Women’s Week, it is meritorious to recognize the legacy of a group of women who have marked haute couture in Puerto Rico. Since 1930’s, the needle industry in Puerto Rico was second in importance, while the first was sugar industry. The beginnings of haute couture in Puerto Rico with the European influence recorded the women who with their wonderful hands, had embroidered, woven and sewn over the years. Entering the twentieth century appears the haute couture almost all the towns of the Island arise women with aesthetic sensibility with the histrionic influence from the designs made by Luisa Matienzo, Rafaela Santos, Genoveva Vazquez among others for famous Puerto Rican first ladies and mayors, and Puerto Rico Carnival Queens.
Definitively, the first distinction belongs to our distinguished designer and couture teacher, Carlota Alfaro. She is considered the fashion icon in Puerto Rico with approximately sixty-five years performing as a high couture designer and fifty years as a teacher who has being given classes to about thirty thousand student at the Carlota Alfaro High Couture Academy located in Santurce, Puerto Rico. Her creative, classic and elegant design with the unique embroidery by tradition, have been paraded by fashion events in Spain, the United States and Venezuela -among many other international stages – and have
been part of the wardrobe of countless celebrities, including Diana Ross and Rocío Jurado. In its golden age, Carlota also managed to market its collections in great chains of prestige, such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s and Lord & Taylor. She Alfaro high couture success legacy as a designer and teacher has focused on her faith in God. Her 81 years of beautiful life, she is still working on her haute couture workshop and offering her knowledge and expertise to develop new designers such as Carlos Alberto and Harry Robles among others novel designers in Puerto Rico. Mency Marie as a designer and model of the brand Turkisa feels much honored to be one of the thousands of students who gained the knowledge from the famous designer Alfaro.
Our celebrity’s journey ends honoring two distinguish women’s on high couture industry in Puerto Rico, Carmen Chirino and Milli Arango. Swiss fabrics, embroidered tulles, lace appliqués, pronounced necklines for Latin women highlight the legacy of nearly 23 years of famous designs created by Cuban Carmen Chirino inspired by the style of the designers Coco Chanel, Christian Dios, Yves Saint Laurent. Similarly, the beautiful and romantic designs framed in European fabrics made of lace by Milli Arango have been marked on Puerto Rico Fashion History by the well-known Puerto Rican singer and winner of the 1974 OTI Festival, Nydia Caro. The fashion industry in Puerto Rico has an undeniable and beautiful legacy for women whose goodness, cleverness and enrichment of their souls have been postponed in each of their designs.
Dr. Carmen I. Figueroa-Medina
San Juan, Puerto Rico
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