Meet Albania Rosario, founder and CEO of the Fashion Designers of Latin America (FDLA).
I can hardly believe it’s already September and that New York Fashion Week (NYFW) is back! With a whole year of watching designers find creative ways to showcase their collections due to the pandemic in the rearview mirror, this is the first “normal” season of NYFW since the city’s lockdown, with larger scale, indoor, in-person events finally returning for the Spring/Summer 2022 season.
The event that I am most excited about is the Fashion Designers of Latin America (which originally started as Uptown Fashion Week), founded by Albania Rosario. The FDLA was created as an inclusive and multicultural platform to showcase emerging and upcoming Latin design talent. Now in its 11th year, Rosario has built by trial and error a top-notch event that continues to grow its audience and serve the Latin community. It returns to in-person shows this week with a limited number of attendees and a requirement to show proof of vaccination for admittance. Learning from the digital platforms that were required to showcase designers over the past season, the FDLA will offer live streaming of the event so that no one is left out of the excitement. In addition, they will be creating additional digital content to showcase even more design talent that won’t physically be at the two-day FDLA shows.
With numerous seasons of success now under her belt, Rosario’s FDLA platform has become a premiere destination for designers, attracting celebrities like like Agatha Ruiz de la Prada and Custo Barcelona to showcase exclusively in the USA on the FDLA platform. Other well known designers like Carolina Herrera, Michael Costello of Project Runway, and Marc Bouwer have had a presence at the shows as well.
Rosario’s story begins when she arrived in the US from the Dominican Republic at age 17 with her father, setting out to attend college and learn English as she did not speak one word of the language. She was also a girl with big dreams of becoming a fashion runway model in the Big Apple. Rosario went to casting calls, facing rejection time and time again as she was Latina, too short at 5’6″ and very curvy. These were all strikes against her as none of these attributes fit the mold of what the industry at that time considered its gold standard for beauty. In those days, the fashion industry was a very different environment, with few Latinos included whether in front or behind the camera.
With a strong mindset and a determination to move forward in the fashion industry, Rosario, while still in college, sought out opportunities to work with designers, volunteering backstage at NYFW shows for four seasons and learning the inner workings of the industry. There was one thing uppermost in her mind as she continued to draw her experience from these shows. She did not see Latino designers or talent within this large fashion platform. The fashion industry globally is a 300 billion dollar business providing social and economic success to those who are able to make deals with retailers or investors to bring their brands to the public. Seeing the void that existed, Rosario knew what she wanted to do.
Check out our interview to hear the story of how Rosario built the FDLA, which she credits as being her biggest and most rewarding experience. Seeing designers bring their dreams to life, she can relate to their search for opportunity in New York City, the fashion capital of the world. Rosario sees incredible possibilities for the future of the FDLA.