ANA ESTELA IS THE INNOVATIVE LATINA DESIGNER YOU NEED TO KNOW
ANA ESTELAIS CHANGING THE L.A. FASHION GAME
Nowadays, it's hard to find a talented designer who doesn't wear a million other hats as well. What can we say besides the fact that the hustle is real? We're all about folks with a new way of doing things, which is one of the many reasons we're currently obsessed with multidisciplinary creative Ana Estela.
Besides being a salon colorist and hairstylist, the LA native is also a contributing producer and creative director for Nylon Espanol, as well as a clothing designer with her first collection "Chavela" out now. Ana's personal style is the foundation for everything she creates, and her use of bold prints and loud, eye-catching colors has our eyes and hearts hooked. The self-made artist, with parents from Guadalajara Jalisco, uses her Latina heritage as inspiration and a mirror, reflecting her own experiences through the clothes she designs, both for herself and her muses. With a penchant for '70s flare with an LA twist, Ana is a breakout star in the LA fashion scene.
FASHION IS DYING talked to Ana about creating her "Chavela" collection, how her Latina culture inspires her, and what she hopes to accomplish next.
FASHION IS DYING: You're a multidiscipline creative, with such a unique style. How would you describe your work?
ANA ESTELA: That is a great compliment condsidering that I feel like I am going crazy half of the time because I have so much on my plate, bouncing from being a set hairstylist, a salon colorist, a contributing producer/ creative director for Nylon Espanol, and of course, all that I do with my clothing line. I would describe my designs as statement pieces. My creative process really started out of sheer necessity for pieces that I do not have for the weather, an event, even just for early call times when I wanted something chic but comfortable. The pieces all have something special about them. My girls are stylish and kind to your own personal style.
FID: Do you have a muse or ultimate inspiration?
AE: Honestly I tend to dress myself, I love to be presentsble and to stand out. The people that inspire me to dress them are people that have a uniqueness, the abillity of standing out that is very raw and feels natural. You can always tell forced personal style. Personal style is my inspiration, and I also love comfort and I love to celebrate all shapes. My pieces are simple but complicated because of fit; fit is very important to me.
FID: How did you first start getting into fashion and hair?
AE: My grandmother made all of her own clothes and I was always inspired by her. Mama Estelita, who I'm named after, was a very beautiful, strong, passionate, and talented women who I started making my designs with. Growing up in a home with a mom and dad who had immigrated from Mexico at 19 and 23-years-old, we really grew up financially struggling. But we were always dressed nicely, and even at a very young age, fashion felt like armor to me. It was the way I protected myself from a judgmental and materialistic world, especially at school. This gave me that much more confidence as I became older to really get out in the world to do hair and make clothes. I started doing hair very young at 17 and I was in fashion school by 20.
FID: Tell us about your new collection — what has the experience creating this been like?
AE: The experience has been LONG haha. There are two parts to creating: 1 Is creating something and giving life with your own hands. I can do that without patterns. I can make clothes just by cutting fabric, which is easier for me to do. 2. Is that I work backwards and have had to develop structures within myself and the way I work to actually make patterns after I have made my sample and break it down for sizing.
Chavela is my first small collection ever that I was able to develop multiples for and fund. I am incredibly proud of Chavela because I developed my samples while I was going through a tough time in my life and did not have a place to live. I developed them on my friend's floors, so that if I was on set or had to attend an event I had these designs, and no one (except my close friends) knew what I was going through. Struggles do not stop the world around us, but through these tough times, we continue to become stronger. I am so blessed in my life to be where I am today because I have felt so lost and afraid. This capsule collection is my baby and I am so proud of it.
FID: I love that you're a fellow Latina — how does your culture influence your work, if at all?
AE: Our culture definitely has an influence on my designs! Most definitely. As you can see with my Chavela collection, the way she was develoed was through a tough time. If you look up the slang word “Chavela” (cute, sexy but with passion and fight) it is very much what I was going through but survived from. I feel like Latin culture is always creating and loving along the way. I am so inspired by our community that is so humble, passionate, talented, and very strong. Living in Echo Park now I love going to the park and seeing all the hustlers just doing their thing. I love our culture.
FID: Is fashion dying?
AE: I feel like “fashion” is never dying because fashion is fashion, but she is always re-inventing herself in so many different ways. I think fashion is always re-born like us, a past life reborn into a new time. But we are drawn by the past. Even the future is drawn by the past, like The Fifth Element; That movie inspires me every time! I am so excited to see what style is like with new technology, as well as new eco-friendly materials like pineapple leather! It's super cool and is alive and breathes on its own due to body temperature. I mean all of it is fucking cool, I only wish it was affordable to us as designers. I didn’t grow up shopping for clothes, so I love affordable clothing. But the “fashion industry“ is a business that unfortunately has a lot to do with cheap fashion and cheap labor for a profit here in the US; and it's actually the 2nd leading cause of pollution in the world. I really hope that changes one day and we make these materials affordable, not only to designers also to consumers.
FID: What do you wish you could tell your younger self regarding you and your art?
AE: I would tell my younger self to be patient with creation. I have always seen a bigger picture when I create and because of that, I was so impatient to start and finish something. This all takes time. I am 32 now and have been doing this since I can remember, but never had guidance and I jumped head first into everything without asking for help because I felt bad asking. But help is necessary and people that believe in you will help you; I am still learning that because I do a lot on my own. I was always intimitated to learn because of my impatientness and that's why I would jump into everything. But there are steps in developing something bigger than yourself; I am still learning all of this myself. I'd definitely tell myself to be patient with my work. Even if it feels like nothing is happening, it’s because you are building brick by brick. You don't finish an empire right away and thats ok; as long as you continue to build everyday.
FID: What's next?
AE: What is next.....Well I'm actually just getting my Chavela collection back to sell. And my plan is to keep creating my small capsule designs until I can produce on a larger scale. I aready have the next three collections and editorials lined up in my head. I am so excited for the future, but bare with me through it all because I am still a hairstylist and an entrepreneur funding everything on my own! I will actually be applying for a grant this month to help my bussiness grow in a way that would change my life. I love what I do and you definitely can feel that when you wear what I design and make.