Horacio Nieto is all set to be Chicago's very own next big designer. Windy City Times went inside the 28-year-old's studio to see behind the scenes of his next collection.
Windy City Times: Did you always want to be a designer?
Horacio Nieto: No, I wanted to be a paleontologist after watching Jurassic Park. The next thing I wanted to be was a doctor because we have one in our family. I saw his lifestyle and he has a big house, but my grandmother talked me out of it. Being a doctor was nice but he never got to enjoy it because he was at the hospital all the time.
In middle school I started sketching and watching fashion shows. I was always that arts and crafts kid. I learned how to knit when I was really young from my great grandmother. By the time I was in high school I knew that is what I wanted to do.
WCT: Would you ever want to do a reality TV show like Project Runway?
HORACIO NIETO: Not now, not anymore. When I was in school I tried out for the very first time that they did it. They didn't have the regulations that you had to be out of school back then. There are so many backlashes that come with it now. You are portrayed as a character and no one takes you seriously as a designer because you become that reality person. For the winners, what has really happened for them? They are not at the level of Marc Jacobs or Ralph Loren and that is not going to happen that way very easily. I think someone with real talent would not be on that show and win.
WCT: So that is your goal to build up the business?
HORACIO NIETO: Yes, I could say that I want to be the next Oscar de la Renta but realistically I just want to be doing what I love to do and be able to live off of it. If it ever gets that big, that's great and I am still able to do collection after collection. My daily routine is always different. I get asked what my typical day is and I don't have one!
WCT: Do you make a lot of money with this job?
HORACIO NIETO: No, it all goes back into your business. People may see a thousand dollar dress but imagine how much money we put into the fabric. Two thirds of that money is going back to make a new collection or buy a new sewing machine. There's always a bill.
WCT: I have heard that before from Isaac Mizrahi.
HORACIO NIETO: I think he went bankrupt at one point. That's part of the whole fashion world. They see the glamour of it. They don't realize there is so much business into it. At some point you have to separate yourself from the business because you have to focus on the business to make it last. If you are not selling, where are you going?
WCT: You won the AOL Latino Fashionista Design Competition in New York?
HORACIO NIETO: Yes; that was my mini-Project Runway. That was good enough for me! After four days of filming, I was fed up with New York and ready to come back to Chicago.
WCT: You are presenting your 2010 Collection Oct. 23. Is this men's and women's designs?
HORACIO NIETO: Yes, men and women, 30 looks each. My designer friends think I am insane. I have to look at it this way; this is the first time doing my own show. All the other shows that I have done have been organized by someone else. I have to prove myself and put my name out there, so people know what I do. I am probably the only designer in Chicago that does both men and women's wear. I actually have two lines.
WCT: How are thing progressing behind the scenes?
HORACIO NIETO: I was able to get a lot of sponsors for the gift bags. It's growing big now because the city is starting to promote it. Tickets are going fast and now the nerves are starting to kick in. It's crunch time!
WCT: Do you have interns helping you?
HORACIO NIETO: Yes, I have interns helping me and we finished all the patterns. We started with the women's patterns even though some are getting crossed off and being replaced at the last minute. I don't want to be doing it the day before. We started on the men's and it's a lot easier.
WCT: When do you fit your models?
HORACIO NIETO: The week before. We had a casting call last week. That's why I have that whole pile there. We had a meeting last night and I had my fashion team come, we watched the models all walk on the video.
WCT: This really is behind the scenes! What are some upcoming fashion trends that you see?
HORACIO NIETO: Color is coming up for the spring. It always happens when there is a war or depression over the economy. Many designers use color to liven people up and not stay in the blacks. I had picked a theme and decided on tribal since I had never done it before. I try to push myself every season, either with a theme, pattern or sewing techniques.
Horacio Nieto will debuted his 2010 Collections at Event Studio Chicago, 1376 W. Carroll, Oct. 23. See www.chicagofashionresource/events/351 .
See www.HoracioNieto.com or www.ArloMenswear.com .