When one thinks of designers, it is not uncommon for the first names that come up to be Italian, French, and an occasional European. Not overlooked as individual designers but often overlooked as a significant group within the industry, there exist the Latin American fashion designers, which have exerted a major influence within the fashion world. One might be able to pick them out by the sound of their surnames, but how much do we know about them, and what are some of their important additions to fashion?

Below are few notables, among the various, extremely talented designers:

Carolina Herrera

Born in Venezuela in 1939 to a well-known, wealthy family, Carolina was raised in society and grew up looking at couture: she attended her first couture fashion show at age 13 in Paris; it was the Balenciaga show.

After graduating from college, she lived in Los Angeles and finally in 1981 founded her eponymous fashion house.  In 1988, she launched her eponymous fragrance, and has since launched more, including the wildly successful 212 fragrance, which she credits her daughter for inspiring. 

Creating a style that mirrors her image- feminine, classic, chic and elegant; she became and still is one of the most successful designers to date. 

She has been favoured by the likes of Jacqueline Onassis, Renee Zellweger, Nancy Reagan and Katie Holmes, among others. In 2008, Carolina Herrera launched a lifestyle brand called CH Carolina Herrera and it has since opened four stores in New York, Texas, Florida and Las Vegas.

Custo Dalmau

Born Custodio Dalmau, he set up a fashion firm with his brother David in the early eighties. In 1996, they created Custo Barcelona.  With a very eye-catching and distinctive style, they presented their work to the American market, which caught on rapidly.  The representative pieces from the collection are bright colours and graphic t-shirts. Though somewhat flamboyant, Custo Barcelona has made a name for itself in the market, with wildly popular apparel, selling so well that at one point it was dubbed “Customania”. 

Narciso Rodríguez

Born in 1961, in New Jersey, USA, Narciso Rodriguez comes from a Cuban-American family. His penchant for fashion evident at an early age, he became an apprentice to a local tailor in Newark and thus took his first steps into the fashion world.  He attended Parson’s School of Design in New York, and after graduating in 1982, he worked freelance and later for Anne Klein and Calvin Klein.

In 1995 he became design director of TSE, subsequently became design director of Cerruti, and his rise continued when he designed the wedding dress that Caroline Bessette wore for her marriage to John F. Kennedy Jr.

In 1997, he launched his eponymous label and was subsequently presented with the Best New Designer award at the Vogue/VH1 fashion awards and the Perry Ellis Award for best new designer by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Narciso was the first designer ever to receive the Womenswear Designer of the Year award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America consecutively.  His always cheerful and somewhat minimalist collections have been well received by the industry and he has garnered quite a following. He has stayed true to his clean lines and lean silhouettes with which he has helped (and continues to help) redefine American glamour.

Oscar de la Renta

Born in 1932 in the Dominican Republic, Oscar de la Renta at the age of 18 went to study painting in Spain. He started out as a fashion illustrator and eventually was assistant in the houses of Balenciaga and Lanvin. He had a brief designing stint at Elizabeth Arden and in 1965 created the line which bears his name. His modern and ultra-feminine designs were instantly popular, especially with the society women. He was a favourite of first ladies Jacqueline Onassis and Nancy Reagan.  His use of ruffles and delicate dresses remains popular and highly imitated; it is a style which, albeit on the casual side of the luxury spectrum, is still undoubtedly one of the most elegant.