Latin Fashion Week highlights diversity

Sobeidy Vidal sees a dearth of Hispanic models and designers in high fashion. It's been the driving force behind Latin Fashion Week for the past 12 years.

"Our country is represented by a number of different cultures," she said. "They should be represented on the runway."


Vidal's brainchild, "Ola! DC 2012" by Latin Fashion Week, kicks off Friday at the Washington Convention Center. The three-day event will be an opportunity to highlight the diverse talents of models, designers and stylists from around the globe, according to Vidal.

Vidal's designers represent countries such as Brazil, Spain, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Trinidad, Venezuela, Colombia and the United States, she said. This year, Vidal held a similar event in New York City. In 2014, Vidal plans to host an event in Dubai.


Unlike the bigger New York Fashion Week events in September, Vidal allows designers a two-hour window, which includes a traditional runway show, a trunk show where customers will be allowed to purchase clothes directly from designers, and informational content and entertainment from the designer's native country.

"We are bringing diversity to the runway and to the fashion industry," Vidal said. "We are afraid to talk about it. We need to create awareness to provide more diversity on the runway."

Vidal's models are mostly from Maryland, Virginia, New York and Pennsylvania. But, this years crop comes from as far away as Georgia, Texas and Alabama, too.

"They are coming from all over the place," she said.

Latin Fashion Week not only highlights Hispanics designers and models. Mia Elliott, an African American jewelry designer from Northern Virginia, will showcase her creations Saturday at 2 p.m. Elliott's work is sold locally at Trillium, Betsy Robinson Bridal Collection, and at Saks Jandel.

"She's fabulous and so talented," Vidal raves.

In addition to Elliott, Vidal touts haute couture designer Mario Alberto Gallegos Jr., a Dallas native whose 2012 collection is inspired by Maharajas, the seven levels chakra and the human intuition; ready-to-wear designer Cesar Alcocer, a Mexico City native who has worked for Dior, Badgley Mishna and Oscar De La Renta; and evening wear designer Rosita Hortado, a Bolivia native who has repeatedly wowed crowds at Miami Fashion Week.

"All the designers are great," she said. "Each one of the designers has something different to present."


If you go

Latin Fashion Week runs Friday through Sunday at the Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Place, Washington. $25-$100. For more information, go to