If there’s one Latina who won’t take no for an answer, it’s Brazilian designer Layana Aguilar, who you might have seen on season 11 of Bravo’s hit fashion competition, Project Runway.
The charismatic fashionista, mom of two, and official designer for the gown of Elena of Avalor (Disney’s first Latina Princess) got herself a place on the show after trying out over and over again. But it wasn’t reality stardom or flashy runways that she was after to make her dreams come true – it was the freedom and joy of creating and designing with her kids that catapulted her career to the next level.
After a long stint in women’s fashion, Layana launched The Fashion Squad School, a place to nurture confidence and authentic self-expression in creative little ones. The FSS now serves as one of the few fashion workshops for children in the middle of Manhattan.
These days, Layana’s creativity also comes in the form of giving back to her community during the Coronavirus pandemic…
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My student and I just finished our first prototype !!! We are going to be producing over 100 face masks this weekend to donate to our local hospitals in NYC ! They don’t have enough anymore 🙁 We are going to post a tutorial video later today so our students who have sewing machines at home can help too! Together we will beat this virus sooner ❤️@thefashionsquadschool @layanaaguilarwomenswear #thefashionsquadschool #layanaaguikar 🇧🇷vamos produzir máscaras e doar para hospitais para ajudar ! Se você sabe costurar tenta ajudar também ❤️Quem está comigo ?!
“I’m a big believer that it doesn’t matter if you’re big or small, we should always do our part. We need to really take care of one another. Even if you don’t know someone, there’s still suffering, there’s still pain and there’s still losing loved ones and maybe one of my masks can help,” Layana told LATV Network. “If I can help one person, my job is done.”
Due to the lack of resources and medical supplies some hospitals in New York City were experiencing, Layana gathered her contacts and got inspired to sew and donate masks for healthcare workers on the front lines.
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🇺🇸 It does not matter how old you are, you will always be my babygirl. My love for you will forever be the same. This kind of love that only you and I share.. a mother daughter’s love 💕 🇧🇷 Não importa o quanto você cresça, você sempre será minha pequena, não importa se o tempo passar o meu amor por você sempre será o mesmo! Esse amor que só agente entende, amor de mãe e filha 💕 Foto pelas lentes da maravilhosa @carolbiazotto
Layana is a true believer that the pandemic is making people become more human, and that in doing so, the fashion industry will be forced to delve deeper into sustainability.
“I think people are going to start paying attention to the harm that we do with mass production and fast fashion – it’s going to come out more ethical,” says Layana.
Who are your favorite local designers? Let us know in the comments below.