In the world of fashion, there are designers who not only create beautiful garments but also strive to make a positive impact on the industry and the women who wear their creations. Coral Castillo, an innovative designer known for her ability to combine strength and softness in her designs, is one such visionary who has captured the attention of the fashion world.
In this exclusive interview, we delve into Coral's creative process, her sources of inspiration, and the values that drive her commitment to empowering women through design. We explore her experiences on STITCHED and PROJECT RUNWAY, and how these opportunities have shaped her as a designer and propelled her career forward. Additionally, we uncover her thoughts on sustainability and her vision for the future of fashion.
Get ready to be inspired as we explore the innovative mind and creative journey of Coral Castillo, a true force in the world of fashion...
How did your mother's work as a dressmaker inspire and influence your passion for fashion design?
My mother's work as a dressmaker truly ignited my passion for fashion design. Witnessing the magical transformation of a simple piece of fabric into a beautiful dress and seeing the joy on a woman's face as she slipped into it deeply inspired me. I yearned to create that same sense of wonder and confidence. My mother's craftsmanship and artistry served as a constant reminder of the power of fashion to uplift and transform. It was her influence that ultimately guided me toward pursuing a career in this creative field.
What made you decide to pursue a career in fashion design despite lacking formal training?
My journey into the world of fashion design started organically. Initially, I began creating tops and skirts for my cousins without any formal training. As word spread, requests poured in from friends and neighbors, and I discovered my immense passion for crafting garments that empower and enhance women. Realizing my deep love for this art form, I made the decision to further hone my skills by studying Fashion Design at the Art Institute of California, San Francisco, where I earned my Bachelor's Degree.
While I may have lacked formal training at the beginning, my dedication and determination allowed me to transcend any limitations and embark on an incredible career in fashion design.
Could you share your experience of participating in the STITCHED series and winning Episode 5? How did that impact your career?
Participating in the STITCHED series and emerging as the winner of Episode 5 was an incredible experience that significantly impacted my career. The exposure I gained as a designer through the show's airing in Canada, Central, and South America provided invaluable visibility and recognition. The outpouring of congratulations and support from viewers was truly heartwarming. Furthermore, the availability of the show on platforms like Hulu in the US further expanded my reach and connected me with a wider audience. Winning STITCHED not only validated my talent and creativity but also opened doors to exciting opportunities and collaborations within the fashion industry.
As a finalist on PROJECT RUNWAY S19, what valuable lessons or experiences did you gain from the show?
Being a finalist on PROJECT RUNWAY was a transformative experience, filled with valuable lessons that continue to resonate with me. One of the most significant lessons I learned was the power of color. Prior to the show, I predominantly worked with black, but PROJECT RUNWAY pushed me to explore and embrace a broader spectrum of hues without compromising my unique aesthetic. It allowed me to incorporate vibrant colors into my designs while retaining a sense of strength and identity. The show also sharpened my ability to work under pressure, think creatively within tight deadlines, and collaborate effectively with fellow designers. These invaluable experiences shaped me both as a designer and as an individual, propelling me towards even greater artistic endeavors.
Your designs are known for combining strength and softness. How do you achieve this delicate balance in your pieces?
Achieving the delicate balance between strength and softness is at the core of my design philosophy. I accomplish this fusion through a meticulous interplay of structure and flow. By incorporating elements like architectural draping and precisely constructed forms, I create garments that accentuate the female figure and evoke a sense of strength and confidence.
Simultaneously, I infuse soft and ethereal fabrics such as chiffon, which lend a touch of delicacy and femininity to the overall design. This harmonious marriage of opposing elements allows my pieces to resonate with women who desire both empowerment and grace in their fashion choices.
Can you tell us about your creative process when it comes to incorporating texture and layering in your designs?
Texture and layering play vital roles in my creative process, as they add depth and intrigue to my designs. I revel in the art of juxtaposing textures to create visually captivating patterns that reveal glimpses of the wearer's skin and silhouette. Through intricate layering techniques, I strive to showcase the woman's form while allowing the fabrics to interact and converse with each other. This approach enhances the sense of movement and dimension in my garments, enabling women to exude confidence and embrace their individuality. It is through thoughtful texture and layering that I craft pieces that empower women to embrace their inner warrior, celebrating their uniqueness rather than concealing it.
We know you're not just a fashion designer but also a skilled macrame artist. How do you integrate macrame techniques into your designs, and how does it enhance your creations?
Macrame holds a special place in my heart, as it represents the artistry of hand craftsmanship and the absence of mass production. Integrating macrame techniques into my designs allows me to create truly unique pieces that blend softness, femininity, and a touch of edginess. By handcrafting macrame harnesses and integrating them with flowing chiffon dresses, I achieve a juxtaposition of contrasting elements that results in a look that is both soft and feminine, yet edgy and strong. Macrame adds an intricate layer of detail and craftsmanship, elevating my creations and infusing them with a distinct, artisanal quality that resonates with those who appreciate the beauty of handmade artistry.
Sustainable fashion is a significant aspect of your brand. Could you share some of the eco-friendly materials and handmade techniques you incorporate into your designs?
Sustainability is a core value of my brand, and I'm passionate about incorporating eco-friendly materials and handmade techniques into my designs. I prioritise the use of natural fibers like silk, cotton, linen, wool, and bamboo in my creations. Additionally, I have embraced the innovative use of vegan leather made from cactus paddles, which offers a cruelty-free alternative to traditional leather.
To further minimize waste and promote sustainability, I source materials from the Fashion District, where I repurpose leftover fabrics from mass production or discontinued projects. By repurposing and transforming existing materials, I contribute to reducing the fashion industry's environmental impact. Moreover, in some of my macrame pieces, I utilize nylon or recycled polyester cord, ensuring that every inch is utilised, leaving no waste behind. This conscious approach to materials and techniques allows me to create stunning garments that align with my commitment to sustainability.
What are some of the challenges you face in promoting sustainable fashion, and how do you overcome them?
Promoting sustainable fashion comes with its unique set of challenges, particularly when competing against fast fashion's affordability and accessibility. However, I firmly believe that the shift towards sustainability is gaining momentum as people become increasingly aware of its importance. To overcome these challenges, I focus on highlighting the value and uniqueness of sustainable fashion. By creating one-of-a-kind pieces that embody sustainability, I offer customers the opportunity to make a conscious choice that aligns with their values. Educating consumers about the environmental impact of fast fashion and the value of investing in quality, sustainable pieces is also crucial. Through storytelling, social media engagement, and collaborations with like-minded individuals and organizations, I strive to create a community of conscious consumers who appreciate the beauty and ethical implications of sustainable fashion.
How do you ensure that your brand's values align with your commitment to sustainability throughout the entire production process?
At my brand, we have taken concrete steps to ensure that our values align with our commitment to sustainability throughout the entire production process. Firstly, we have adopted a made-to-order approach, creating garments based on customer requests and producing small batches. This allows us to minimize excess inventory and reduce waste significantly. By producing only what is needed, we avoid overproduction and contribute to a more sustainable fashion industry. Additionally, we are meticulous about sourcing materials. We prioritize eco-friendly and natural fibers such as silk, cotton, linen, wool, and bamboo, as well as vegan leather made from cactus paddles, providing cruelty-free alternatives. Moreover, we actively repurpose materials sourced from the Fashion District, utilizing leftover fabrics from mass production or discontinued projects. By embracing these practices, we ensure that sustainability is at the forefront of our production process, from start to finish.
What are your thoughts on the future of sustainable fashion and its impact on the fashion industry as a whole?
In my opinion, sustainable fashion is the future, and its impact on the fashion industry as a whole will be transformative. As awareness around environmental issues continues to grow, people are becoming more conscious of their consumption patterns. They are recognizing the detrimental effects of fast fashion and the importance of making sustainable choices. This shift in mindset is pushing the fashion industry to adapt and prioritize sustainability. We are witnessing exciting advancements in technology, enabling the recycling of fibers and the creation of fabrics made from natural materials rather than plastics. These innovations are revolutionising the way we produce and consume fashion. By embracing sustainable practices, we not only protect our planet but also foster a more ethical and responsible industry. I believe that as sustainability becomes the norm, it will shape the future of fashion, leading to a more conscious and environmentally friendly approach to style.
How do you envision your brand evolving in the next few years? Are there any exciting projects or collaborations in the pipeline?
Looking ahead, I envision my brand continuing to uphold its core sustainability values while expanding its reach and impact. One exciting avenue for growth is the expansion into accessories, where we can extend our commitment to eco-friendly materials and craftsmanship. I believe that accessories, such as handbags and jewelry, present incredible opportunities to showcase innovative sustainable practices and unique design aesthetics.
Additionally, I am open to exploring collaborations with like-minded individuals and organisations that share our vision for a more sustainable future. Collaborations provide a platform for cross-pollination of ideas, pushing the boundaries of sustainable fashion and creating powerful synergies. By embracing these opportunities, I am confident that our brand will continue to evolve, inspiring positive change within the fashion industry and resonating with conscious consumers.
Our readers love to travel. What destination is at the top of your bucket list?
While I've been fortunate to check off some incredible places from my bucket list, such as Italy's enchanting cities like Rome, Florence, Milan, Venice, and Verona, I'm eager to continue exploring. Among the destinations that hold a special allure for me are Vienna, Barcelona, Machu Picchu, and London. Of course, I have a longer list of places I'd love to visit, but these cities currently sit at the top of my must-see destinations.
Finally, if you had one piece of advice to give to aspiring fashion designers, what would it be?
One piece of advice I would give to aspiring fashion designers is to embrace hard work and perseverance. The fashion industry is highly competitive, and success often comes to those who are willing to put in the extra effort. Dedicate yourself to honing your craft, constantly pushing your creative boundaries, and staying up-to-date with industry trends. Be prepared for setbacks and rejection, as they are a natural part of the journey. Use these experiences as opportunities to learn and grow, rather than allowing them to break your spirit. Stay true to your vision and believe in yourself and your unique talent.
Remember, it is through determination and resilience that you can make your mark in the fashion world.
coralcastillo.com and Instagram via @cc.coral and @coral_castillo