Denver's Latin Fashion Week founder brings 'Coco' inspired collection to the runway – KUSA

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COLORADO, USA — Over several years a lack of Latino representation has been blatant on the runway, prompting one designer and fashion mogul in Colorado to create a more inclusive platform during fashion week for aspiring artists all over the world.
Alebrijes will be the theme of the collection that Mexican-born designer Norberto Mojardin will be presenting at this year’s Latin Fashion Week Colorado in Denver this weekend.
Alebrijes are mystical animals in Mexico,” Mojardin said. They are the representation of Mexican art. They began to know them with the Coco movie and legend says that they are the guardians of us. To guide the way when we die.” 
Mojardin has been involved in the fashion industry for the last 15 years. Initially doing mostly makeup or styling hair, Mojardin said that in all those years, at every one of those fashion shows, he noticed something was always missing.
I really saw the need for there to be a little more inclusion,” he said. In the groups that I was in, basically, I was the only Mexican who was there, and I was there all the time, closing the shows. I imagine because I was doing something good.”
According to Mojardin, the lack of Latin representation at the fashion shows made him take initiative and he took the leap to start the first ever Latin Fashion Week Colorado.
“I put it on the table for the fashion week that already existed and no, they weren’t willing to cooperate,” he said. I waited for four years in the conversations and they weren’t just Latino, I wanted to see more African, Asian inclusion. I did not see any of that so I had to create my own fashion week, where everything existed.”
Mojardin made a name for himself after winning first place at the Denver Fashion Week Paper Fashion Show with his Paper Tiger, ‘Beto.’ That win gave him and his team a trip to New York City where they showcased their paper design at the 97th Annual Art Directors Club (ADC) Awards in May 2018.
“My designs are dreams of years… I designed for ballet and folklore,” Mojardin said remembering the days when he was a professional dancer. But I had never put them in fashion or [imagined] that they were going to become so famous. That’s when I was recognized worldwide as the winner in New York. That was the title I needed to be able to have credibility in the fashion world, and for them to see my style, and I said now is the time to open a new path, not just for me but for my Latino community. Everyone, I consider myself part of all of them.”
Mojardin’s parents separated when he was very young so he was raised by his grandmother in a small town next to the capital of Sonora, Mexico. Looking for a better future and with his grandmother telling him that his mom wanted to meet him, Mojardin headed to the United States at the age of 11.
Upon his arrival in Arizona, Mojardin said that it wasn’t as wonderful as some believe the search for the ‘American dream’ can be. He said it was a very tumultuous period in his life as he became a victim of sexual, mental and physical abuse. Something that he said no one, especially a child, should ever have to experience. 
Unfortunately, those were the cards that God had dealt for me, cards I did not imagine, and that in a certain way, thank God, I survived them,” he said. I tried suicide too, but when you wake up and see that you are still alone and that it is only God who is with you, and the prayers of your grandmother and the advice that your grandmother gave you. Advice that made me the person I am today such as lighting a candle when you need help or cook beans to find her. I get there and everything is fine. And believe me, that’s what keeps me here.
When Mojardin arrived in Colorado, he ran into another challenge. He lived on the streets for about three or four months. 
But he said he wanted to continue his education.
“Emily Griffith gave me the opportunity, they paid half of it and I the other,” he said. “They even fed me there.”  
Mojardin’s family and friends have always been a big part of his art. Along with him and his partner, his grandmother sewed sequins onto pieces when needed, and friends cut paper or glued things together.  
“We all work. It is something very familiar,” he said. We don’t take it as, oh we’re in a rush, or compromise. No, everyone calmly does what they can. It’s like coming and cooking, that is, I come home, I do a little art, and whoever wants to get involved gets involved and whoever is not, it’s okay. So yes, the family’s support is unconditional. In all aspects. I don’t think my mind could create if I didn’t have my family here at home with me.”

In this year’s collection, Mojardin’s pieces are the result of months of work. And although the pandemic almost caused him to close his beauty salon, he took advantage of that time and began working on his pieces. 
I believe that until the last day [until the show] I will continue working on them,” Mojardin said.
Thirty international and local designers are participating in this year’s Latin Fashion Week Colorado which will be held at the Denver County Courthouse on Sept. 25 and 26. 
In previous years, the show has been 21 and over, but for this year’s show, Mojardin wants to include the younger crowd. 
“The future youth is very important. Everyone is welcome,” Mojardin said.
He said the whole collection is super colorful with a lot of sequins and stones, and is meant to be a show. His collection will close the Latin fashion week.
“The color of the alebrijes enchanted me,” Mojardin said. All my pieces I am making are inspired for a child. That if a child sees these pieces, that the child is not afraid of them. That they are not so crude with the faces of monsters. I’m putting lashes on them, blush, everything. Make it look as beautiful as possible.” 
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