Latino designer Rolando Santana. (Photo/Getty Images)

New York Fashion Week: Celebrity favorite Rolando Santana reinvents clothing’s appeal

Mexican designer Rolando Santana doesn’t rely on what’s become the simple formula for dressing celebrities these days: give a hint of bold color and reveal lots of skin. Instead, Santana prides himself on considering every woman – her goals, ambition, strength, career, identity and body type – when it comes to his stellar collection.

“It’s a priority for me to make wearable clothes that drape a woman beautifully,” says Santana. As a small child, watching his mother make one-of-a-kind clothing for the dressmaking business she ran from home, Santana explains that he learned that above all, women want designs that reflect their personality – not just the allure of their body.

“Fashion is a very competitive business, but I strongly believe I have something to offer by creating clothes for real women,” says Santana, whose designs have been made him a favorite of actresses Dania Ramirez, Selena Gomez, Emmanuelle Chriqui and socialite Tinsley Mortimer. “My clothes enhance, rather than take away from, a woman’s inner beauty.”

For Santana, fashion has always been the ultimate means of creative expression and with the goal of conveying the skills his mother taught him to the runway, he left his hometown of Cuernavaca, Mexico in 1991 to pursue degrees in business and design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Stints at design houses including Spenser Jeremy and Donna Morgan prepared Santana to launch his own label in 2009 and since then, says Santana, he’s been “incredibly rewarded” by his work.

“I design for a woman who is unafraid of pursuing her goals and wants beautiful clothes to wear during that journey,” explains Santana, who insists on creating designs and patterns for petite women and plus-sizes – not just sample-sized models. “The woman who wears my clothing might be a lawyer, business woman, doctor, or stay-at-home mom – but she always makes a presence because of her confidence.”

With his Fall/Winter 2013 designs shown during New York Fashion Week, Santana created a seamless collection meant to take a woman from home to vacation and to a special event with ease. With a heavy emphasis on dresses – Santana’s touching tribute to his mother – the designer made chintzed lace the focus of his latest collection.

“It’s a lace fabric that looks metallic, almost like leather,” explains Santana, whose newest collection included the material in a pair of coquettish shorts, a fitted dress and sleek skirt accessorized by a daring cropped top. “It’s an amazing blend of tough and feminine appeal – it’s not the floral print and bright colors people might expect from a Latin designer.”

Santana says that his goal is to always defy expectations and by creating a classic, sophisticated chic designs season after season, the designer is certainly on his way.

“It’s always been my desire to dress women for the greatest moments of their life,” says Santana, who also creates haute couture wedding gowns. He’d love to dress First Lady Michelle Obama, but he also wants his fans to know that great style is something that comes from within.

“Lots of cleavage, ruffles and skin can detract from natural beauty,” says Santana, who admits that he loves working with muted, dark colors.

“A woman’s true appeal comes from her sense of self – and I love helping them realize that.”

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