Colors of the Night
By Brenda Garza
Mali Corpus de Cantu, Fashion Fest creator and The Glass House owner, fascinated the audience and the RGV fashion world on Thursday, Nov. 30, at the McAllen Convention Center. Fashion designers from all over the Valley and beyond showed off their collections to over 500 attendees and countless more on Facebook Live.
The sixth annual fashion extravaganza is the end-of-the-year event that no one wants to miss. Being compared to New York’s Fashion Week runway shows, Fashion Fest did not disappoint.
Here, RGV fashion elites, like fashion bloggers, makeup artists, pageant queens, media-moguls, and fashionistas all come together to enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience they won’t see or enjoy anywhere else in the Valley.
And this year, the creator of Fashion Fest and total badass wanted to go bigger than in previous years.
“From the beginning, I had envisioned Fashion Fest to be an event culminating upward of two or three days,” Cantu said in Spanish while being congratulated. “We are on the sixth show, if you can believe that. Last year, we only had about 50 models and only 7 designers. This time around I wanted more. Today we had over 80 models walk the runway and 12 designers, including my own from The Glass House. I wanted the show to have a variety of designers and looks to please anyone.”
Among the designers were OJ, Renee’s of Sharyland, Glitz & Glamour, 7ELEVENS, Robert Graham, Michal Negrin, Moda Elizabeth, By Maxwell, OMEN, Hanna Herrera from Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas and NICO from Corpus Christi.
Elizabeth Garza from Moda Elizabeth, a first time designer at Fashion Fest, was excited to show her outfits.“I am so happy Mali took us into consideration while planning this year’s Fashion Fest,” Garza said in Spanish. “I’m so new at this. I feel like a fish out of water, but I’m very happy to be a part of it.
I love the vibe and all these beautiful models. They look like they were cut out of a magazine or taken out of a New York fashion show.”
Cantu, known as the ultimate fashion icon in the Rio Grande Valley, takes pride in her work and people can definitely see it in her garments and her impeccable style. While mixing colors, prints, faux fur, leather, and bedazzled garments, she has once more outdone herself.
“Mali is a total boss when it comes to fashion,” said Vodka and Lipstick fashion blogger, Karla Leal, about why she decided to come to her first Fashion Fest. “She is constantly pushing the boundaries and stepping out of her comfort zone in order to rock bomb-ass outfits.”
Leal was not mistaken when she said Cantu rocks amazing outfits. Just like in Mali-style tradition, she did not disappoint at Fashion Fest. She could be spotted a mile away. The fashion guru resembled a shimmery silver art piece. She wore a metallic silver plated dress with completely matching upper thigh-high boots in true fashion style.
However, without the talent and creativity Cantu possesses, this type of event could have not been possible.
“This is something you don’t see in the Valley,” Cantu said. “Here you sit down and enjoy countless designers and fashion trends. The best part is that you can automatically purchase the outfits you liked in the lobby’s pop-up shops.” And the designers feel the same.
“We really need these types of events in McAllen,” said Garza, owner of Moda Elizabeth, about how important Fashion Fest is to the Valley. “You don’t see this here. She is evolving the perspective of Valley folk with fashion. We have the people that enjoy things like this. This is art and this should continue.”
Cantu is on a mission to inform Valley residents that the RGV has designers for every kind of person. Instead of going to the mall to find garments that are not unique, obtaining a one-of-a-kind outfit and helping local businesses thrive is her passion.
Brenda Treviño, RGV fashion and lifestyle blogger of Trendy Trevi and Fashion Fest event coordinator says, “This is an event made for designers to showcase their pieces. Here, all the different boutiques, collections, and designers can get more exposure if their name isn’t that big the way they would like it to be.”
And exposure is exactly what theses designers would get. The audience guests included Gloria Trevi’s makeup artist, Antonio Von Marrok, public relations specialist Giselle Mascarenhas-Villarreal, RGV musician and rapper James Rivera, model and boxer, Nelson “The Goat” Hampton, Paul Magee of Global Groove Entertainment, entrepreneur and make-up artist Luis Alejandro of Luis Alejandro Beauty. Also in attendance were plenty of local fashion icons, bloggers, socialites, beauty queens, like Miss Hidalgo County Teen, Melanie Torres, and of course over 500 guests and social media fashionistas anxiously awaiting on Facebook Live.
Meanwhile, guests could enjoy themselves while listening to a Mix Master DJ and eating Chef Raquel Rivera’s pastry desserts, which were elegantly placed on the chairs alongside a pink bag filled with goodies or browsing the pop-up shops in the lobby to purchase purses and wallets from Macarena Timeless Style Leather Products, accessories for brides to be from Nivek Lebasi Exclusive Bridal, kids attire from Hiccup, hand-painted/mixing art accessories from Pink Potion 729, or take pictures with the Dior backdrop.
The show started with OMEN, a young dynamic duo from Brownsville. Oscar Pacheco and Juan Martinez, both 18-years-old, are youngest independent artists whose passion is to design for both sexes.
“Gender neutral clothing is what we do,” Pacheco said before the show. “What we believe is that men shouldn’t be restrained to the norms of society. You can only wear tennis shoes and a t-shirt. There is a way to expand that border of what is acceptable in our society and we are trying to push that fashion.”
However, each compilation was unique.
Hanna Herrera’s collection was made for women who love floral print and bold colors, while 7ELEVENS offered subtle garments for both men and women. By Maxwell was geared towards fancy office-wear, dinner or cocktail outings with silk shirts in mustard yellow and creamy beige and shimmering or matted black dresses.
OJ’s collection was a bit more edgy with rock and roll mixed in, while Moda Elizabeth was clearly made for women who love lots of color and bold prints like wearing playing cards from the neck down .
Renee’s of Sharyland was very chic and simplistic, yet sophisticated, while The Glass House had everything from neon to purple and hot pink garments, and racy, yet very fashion forward outfits.
NICO had nothing but beautiful show-stopping evening gowns. Robert Graham was all about fall colors and solids for both men and women’s everyday wear.
Michal Negrin, a women’s collection, had a vintage-inspired look with prints and a color palette unique to the line with peacock blues and greens.
Glitz & Glamour, who closed the event, had models walking in designer gowns made to turn heads. From sultry solid black and elegant red fitted evening wear dresses, to jeweled jumpsuits, gowns for pageants as well as gowns to wear to weddings and quinceñeras.
Each designer had a chance to captivate the audience with their looks. Cantu admits it is a dream come true and is excited for next year’s Fashion Fest.
If you seek the mentioned vendors, designers, or boutiques, and would like to see the looks the walked the runway contact Mali Corpus de Cantu at (956) 346-2166 or visit http://www.facebook.com/mali.corpus.