North Texas Daily

Alumni to make Paris Fashion Week debut

Alumni to make Paris Fashion Week debut

Alumni to make Paris Fashion Week debut
February 25
10:00 2022

As the sun begins to set, the lights of the Renacio Reyes design studio flicker on.

Alumnus Carlos Reyes, 24, a self-proclaimed night owl, begins another late-night design session. They move across the studio gathering various supplies. An array of pearls, threads and ceramics soon spread across their workspace.

Reyes works intently on the dress in front of them, making sure they are satisfied with each intricate detail. Reyes knows this series of garments needs to accurately convey its story before its debut at one of the premier fashion events of the year: Paris Fashion Week.

“It’s not going to make a difference in anybody’s life at the end of the day, but it will to me and my brand,” Reyes said. “I have to make sure that I’m presenting the most for Renacio.”

Reyes first began their fashion career as a college sophomore. They won a sewing machine in an art competition where they submitted their first-ever art piece, a sculpture they made in a prerequisite art course. Soon after Reyes began to learn how to sew, they quickly discovered a newfound passion and decided to become a fashion design major.

“It was all bare childish audacity and nerve,” Reyes said. “I had this idea in my head and I could attempt to make it happen, so I did.”

As a fashion student, Reyes said they were able to pick up design very quickly despite their inexperience. They soon began to take private clients, most of which were local drag queens, under their own brand, Renacio Reyes. 

Reyes said many of the drag queens they worked with were not as picky about a garment’s aesthetic or the quality of stitching as other private clients. This allowed Reyes to freely explore their own aesthetic and style, which they say allowed them to develop more as an artist early in their career.

“It was just like a playground,” Reyes said. “That was really healthy for me to have.”

 Angela Ryan, Dallas-based model and event producer, coordinated Reyes’s debut fashion show, Haute Noir, in 2019. She said it felt special being the first person to give Reyes this outlet, as she was able to spot their artistic potential from their first meeting.

“All [they] needed was someone to set fire to [their] pants, and I did it,” Ryan said. “After seeing [them] from that first line, I knew [they were] only going to go up from there.”

After months of working across the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Reyes was able to expand their work to a national stage. They later designed for two seasons of red carpet events such as The Grabby Awards, the premiere of Netflix’s “Dracula” and helped backstage at the Golden Globes. Their work also made publication cameos in Vogue, Time Magazine and Yahoo.

Reyes credits their rapid portfolio growth to the raw courage they had as a fresh artist.

“It’s just blind confidence,” Reyes said. “You need that audacity to create something new.”

In 2021, after two years of building the Renacio Reyes brand, Reyes received an email they said led to one of their career’s top highlights: an invitation to New York Fashion Week.

“I thought someone was pulling a prank on me,” Reyes said.

Reyes quickly got to work forming their coherent, themed collection titled “Stupid Cupid.” Reyes said aside from designing, coordinating their own set of models made up of burlesque dancers, adult film stars and TikTok creators for such a major event proved to be one of the biggest challenges of their career. They felt this experience helped them adapt to last-minute problem-solving in the industry.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Reyes said. “It was a huge learning experience.”

While Reyes expected to have to develop their creative direction for the next decade to meet the standards of Paris runways, they received an invitation to PFW just four months after their debut in New York.

“I couldn’t go to sleep that night,” Reyes said. “I couldn’t believe it was really happening.”

While Reyes had two months to prepare for New York Fashion Week, they said they were given just four weeks to design for Paris. They said this short time limit, as well as not having anyone to go to for advice regarding the event, has led to a lot of anxiety and fear surrounding the show.

“I’m kind of shooting in the dark, so it’s all very scary,” Reyes said.

Reyes’s designs will debut on the Paris runway on Feb. 28. Reyes said they will be using their show’s eight allotted models to display Renacio Reyes’s best pieces. While most designers would form a cohesive collection, Reyes said they do not care about following one theme and would rather establish what they have to offer as a designer.

“I’m not filtering it through the eyes of marketability, I’m just going to have fun,” Reyes said. “I want to be an artist, so I’m establishing the artistry first.”

Despite Reyes’s fears, they said they are continuing to trust their intuition for this project. While their collection is not what traditionally would be shown as a Paris debut, Reyes believes it encompasses the Renacio Reyes brand and who they are as an artist.

I’m going to do what I know what I know is good, and then say sorry later,” Reyes said. “At the end of the day, the most important person for me to satisfy is myself.”

Dallas-Fort Worth-based freelance photographer Ashley Highberger, 28, said her experience working with Reyes has shown the designer’s need to take a more unconventional approach toward making their pieces and shows inclusive to represent diverse groups. She believes this is what makes Reyes such a unique, talented artist worthy of the attention they have earned throughout their career.

“Every garment [they] make has a life of its own and has a story to tell,” Highberger said. “It’s a mirror and it feels good. It’s cathartic.”

Reyes said having significant opportunities, such as Paris Fashion Week, so early in their career has continuously humbled them and their work as an artist. As they further develop their creative direction, Reyes hopes they continue to find ways to create something new and are able to show others their inner self through Renacio Reyes. In the end, Reyes said all they need from their viewers is a small expression to know their work is appreciated.

“Just a little bit of a smile, that’s it,” Reyes said. “There’s little I could ask from an audience besides that.”

Image source Renacioreyes on Instagram

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Samantha Thornfelt

Samantha Thornfelt

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