December 17, 2016 by Burgundy Woods
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“Tonight doesn’t feel like San Antonio!” A comment that stings, but is completely understood around these parts. San Antonio, Texas has been feeling a bit of a renaissance for some years now, with bits and pieces of true metropolitan ideals slowly seeping its way into a once sleepy town of weekend sameness and many are truly happy about that.
The beauty of last night was that although we evolve, we continue to stayed true to our roots and take pride in what we have always been. It’s what keeps us special. It sustains our uniqueness. The culture that we hold true, is what others from all over the world come to see and experience.
Last night, what was old, was new again, what was high fashion was given a cultural jerk and everyone, I mean everyone I talked to, was incredibly happy to see yet another example of San Antonio stickin’ it to the world and giving all spectators (especially holidays visitors) a taste of who we are!
The evening began with fashion artist, Kristel Andrea Orta-Puente and her Lab Show entitled Chola. Now, although cholos and cholas, in truth, have a history of violence and negative traits, one has to realize that many of us growing up around this culture could not help but push those elements aside as their fashion sense crept its way into our personal style.
As a youth growing up on the southside of San Antonio, Texas, although I was not in a gang, not into violence or even friends with the cholos or cholas in my neighborhood, fashion was a unconscious bridge that linked our two likes. A rosary around my neck. The winged eyeliner that I thought was the norm. The dark lips or suspenders, many of these style traits, especially since there was no internet back then, was a constant unconscious inspiration when getting dressed for school in the morning.
In this show, Kristel chose to juxtapose the likes of high fashion icons and this cholo/chola style. What do you get when you mix Karl Lagerfeld with cholo fashion? What happens to Coco Chanel’s makeup when chola elements are introduced? If the Chanel storefront had a cultural take over, what would it look like?
Many of the portraits were directly inspired by iconic fashion images from the past and old advertisements. Kristel showcases cholo and chola style by substituting certain fashions and accessories. Here, Coco’s bow tie is replaced with a black bandana. Her layers of necklaces dawn an oversized cross and her make up is dramatized with winged eyeliner and bold lips. Even the presence of a tattoo plays into the theme.
Makeup and Hair by Fashion Artist of the Year 2016: Fabian Diaz
Other locals of the San Antonio community model for Kristel in Chola. Here Cookie, a well known socialite and creative poses in one of Kristel’s portraits and upon close inspection, you will recognize Agosto Cuellar playing Karl Lagerfeld in one of the most intriguing sights of the evening.
The exhibit is still up and can be seen at the Guadalupe Gallery located at 723 S. Brazos, San Antonio, Texas 78207. Opening night was deemed a huge success, not only for the artistry and presentation, but also for the exchange of education and culture. “What does Chola mean?” a foreign exchange student from Japan asked. In the same spirit, some neighborhood patrons asked “What’s Chanel?” This, leading to an interaction of smiles and information that was truly a beautiful thing to witness.
Screenshot from episode above
The after party that followed was the highly anticipated Jive Town Opening Reception! He who remembers Jive Refried is true San Antonio fashion community from WAY back. Held at Sala Diaz, Agosto Cuellar, a San Antonio, Texas fashion designer, artist and community activist, presents his first solo presentation at the gallery transforming the exhibition space into a boutique that recreates his famous South Alamo shop, Jive Refried. A true staple for many years (1999-2011), Jive Refried was not only a place to shop fashion, it was a social hot spot. It was a place where many creative projects were conceived, memorable after parties ensured and yes, an overall cultural establishment in the heart of its neighborhood. Many were devastated to see it go.
In true Agosto Cuellar fashion, Jive Town party goers we were greeted with a packed house, incredible music and Agosto himself, blowing his party whistle and working behind the fashion counter! It wasn’t long until there was dancing and happy patrons either reminiscing or introducing the Jive Refried Spirit with others. It was the perfect topper to a fabulous fashion-art night out.
Follow me in the episode above and check out our #BTS #SneakPeeks of the evening last night and be sure to visit the two fashion art experiences. More to come on Style Lush TV.