Mexican Designer Turns Corona into a Catwalk

Designer Osvaldo Rodríguez brings Fashion Week to Queens with a collection promoting inclusion. From left to right: Allan Carrera (red dress), Ashley De Queen (green dress), Karina Blancovi (beige dress), Denisse Ortega (blue dress), Shagela Di Marti (black dress), and Mauricio Mazariegos (red skirt). (Photo by Mariela Lombard via El Diario)

It is 11:00 a.m. and the sun is blazing. The street noise seems to be the center of attention, but loses all prominence in just a few seconds when a car stops suddenly at the corner. One by one, a group of male models heavily made up and walking as on a runway come out of the vehicle.

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Only a few passersby are aware that New York Fashion Week kicks off on Thursday and would be willing to believe that these models could be wearing designs by renowned couture houses at the event, which runs until Sept. 14. (…) From up-close, no one recognizes them but, from the reaction they are drawing from the crowd, they are stealing the show.

This is designer Osvaldo Rodríguez’s way of bringing Fashion Week to Queens, whose collection promotes the message: “We are all transparent.”

This is not Manhattan. This is Corona, Queens. (…) Street vendors selling tacos, gorditas, tamales and fruit water decorate the sidewalks. No famous DJs play their “trendy,” “eclectic” jams for this fashion show. The raucous 7 train provides the soundtrack.

(…) Osvaldo Rodríguez is a Mexican-born designer determined to show that his creations are worthy of the most famous fashion showcase in the world, and send a strong message in favor of diversity, freedom and defending the right to “be who you want to be,” supported by his unconventional group of models.

“I am not well-known or famous. I am only starting to make myself known, but I want to make the most of this important event in the fashion world to let the world see my designs and to show that all people, regardless of their height, body type, race or sexual orientation, are equal and have a right to look beautiful,” said the 45-year-old designer. When he was just a teenager, he said goodbye to the municipality of Putla Villa de Guerrero, in the state of Oaxaca, where the population is around 30,000.

(…) “My fashion show is called ‘We are ALL transparent,’ because, as a designer, I love to work with see-through textiles and because, as a human being, I believe that it is important to be transparent and free,” said the artist, admitting that, as a child, he used to admire women’s clothing. He even made a few drawings which he would hide, fearing macho attitudes and what people in his town would say.

“I don’t care about any of that anymore. Now, I feel very liberated and fulfilled, and I religiously work on my designs every night, from 1:00 to 5:00 a.m., (…)” he said. By day, Rodríguez is a cook at a Tex-Mex restaurant in Union Square.

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“I dream of someday being on the big-league runways of New York Fashion Week, competing with them,” he said [referring to his idols, Oscar de la Renta, Versace and Carolina Herrera]. “But, for now, I want to have my show right here, and I am proud to be a Latino and an immigrant and to be able to demonstrate that we do not come here to steal or to do bad things but instead have a lot of talent to share.”

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Ashley De Queen, a young Mexican man who wore a bright green dress and platform heels, described Rodríguez’s concept as “a call to end stigma” and the fear of “what people will say.”

“For instance, I am a boy and dress like a woman, and that taboo is now gone in my family. We are all equal,” said the model, recognizing the value of bringing the runway to Corona. “Fashion does not only live in Manhattan. It also lives here, and we are not going to be looked down on just because we are a Latino neighborhood.”

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Osvaldo Rodríguez’s show will be held on Monday, Sept. 10, at El Trío Lounge, at 102-01 44th Ave. in Corona.

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