Latinos and Hispanics comprise more than 16.7% of the total population of the United States and while I don’t have the statistics on the overall world population, I do know that Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world. Is the Pope Hispanic? (you bet!) The rich, multi layered, and colorful heritage that defines the Latino and Hispanic culture could not be more perfectly suited for fashion and, in fact, it has long served as inspiration for some of the world’s most influential fashion designers (many of whom unsurprisingly, boast Hispanic backgrounds).
The work of Spanish born Cristobal Balenciaga (1895-1986), considered to be fashion’s “Picasso” by Cecil Beaton, was very much rooted in Spanish culture, tradition and regional cues. Santo Dominican born Oscar de la Renta, trained by Cristobal Balenciaga and Antonio Castillo, has been similarly inspired by his cultural heritage throughout his illustrious career. He in fact, conceived ‘Balenciaga: Spanish Master’, the exhibition which was curated by Vogue’s Hamish Bowles, and was on view at New York’s Queen Sofia Spanish Institute from 11/19/2010 through 2/19/2011.The exhibit was notable in that it is the first to illustrate the strong hold and powerful spell which Spain’s rich culture, history, and art, apparently cast over one of its most revered, creative, and legendary ‘sons’.
|BH Students Perform at Cocktails
Photo: (c) Julie Skarrat
Isabel and Ruben Toledo’s Cuban roots are always apparent within their work (hers as a fashion designer and his, as a fashion illustrator) and Cuban-American Narciso Rodriguez, has from time to time referenced his cultural heritage. A Spanish subplot wove through the fall 1995 couture shows in Paris, and Yves Saint Laurent admitted to having been inspired by the paintings of Goya and Spanish toreodors. Most recently, Ralph Lauren traveled (if not literally, then in his mind) to Latin America and Mexico for inspiration for his Spring 2013 collection and for the past few months, full page Ralph Lauren ads have run in the Sunday Styles section of The New York Times, many of which have featured the line’s Spanish themed heavily embroidered vests, full sleeved white cotton shirts, ruffled black organza boleros, jaunty fringe trims, and tooled leather bags.
|Honoree Randy Falco, President and CEO of Univision Communication|
While the Hispanic and Latino culture and heritage has served as a jumping off point and inspiration for all the arts, of all its rigorous disciplines, perhaps none captures its inherent flamboyance, and expressive, joyful exuberance, as dance, as exemplified by Ballet Hispanico, www.ballethispanico.org . Based in New York, it is widely recognized as the nation’s premier Latino dance organization. Now in its 42nd year, it was founded by Tina Ramirez in 1970 and is currently under the tutelage of Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro. What originally began as a dance school and community based performing arts troupe, has morphed into a world class institution whose divisions (the professional Company, the School of Dance, the Education and Outreach programs), work in unison to uphold its mission to explore, preserve, and celebrate the diverse nationalities that comprise Latino cultures (Venezuela, Cuba, Trinidad, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia) through dance.
|Young student dancers|
Last evening, Ballet Hispanico held its annual Spring Gala and celebrated the legacy of its School of Dance and honored Randy Falco, President and CEO of Univision Communication, the leading media company serving Hispanic America with its Civic Inspiration Award. Held in The Plaza Hotel’s Grand Ballroom, the celebration featured cocktails, dinner, live music from the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, and performances by the Ballet Hispanico Company and students of the Ballet Hispanico’s School of Dance (some as young as 9 years old). The unique performance choreographed by Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro showcased a variety of works from Ballet Hispanico’s repertory over the past 40 years.
|Judy Arnhold, Eduardo Vilaro, Tina Ramirez, Kate Lear|