When Ximena Valero was 9 years old, her mother took her to a private sewing instructor in her hometown of Tijuana. That was the moment that would change her life forever.

“I was young, but the instructor was very patient,” Valero said. “She helped me discover what I could do with [sewing and design], and from there the possibilities seemed endless. Since then, I feel like everything I’ve done has been to fulfill that sense of possibility.”

At the age of 16, Valero enrolled in the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Diego, traveling across the Mexican border every day to attend classes. She moved to the U.S. at 21, and from San Diego traveled across the country to work at Victoria Secret in New York. These days, home for Valero is Los Angeles where her fashion company is headquartered. The two decades that Valero spent traversing the U.S. in pursuit of her love for fashion, however, hadn’t diminished her patriotism for her home country of Mexico.

“Being from Mexico means everything to me. It’s my source of inspiration, and whenever I’m designing, my [Mexican heritage] is always present,” Valero told me. “I am very proud of what my country has contributed to fashion. The hand-made creations, high-quality products, and detailed designs [associated with] Mexican fashion is what I want to show through the clothing I create.”

Photo credit: Rodney Ray

Valero explained that Mexico’s rich artistic history is what motivates her to continually invent, experiment, and push the boundaries of fashion. In particular, Frida Kahlo has served as an artistic and personal role model for Valero during her journey through the fashion industry.

“I love what [Kahlo] created in her life, in spite of suffering so much,” she said. “She was an iconic woman from Mexico that represented us, and continues to represent the us, as a successful female artist. That’s an important way that I relate to her—I see myself as a successful artist from Mexico as well.”

Valero is well-known for her unique and elegant dresses, winning the 2007 Miami Fashion Week Award for Excellence in Evening Wear and having designed pieces for celebrities such as Eva Longoria and Katie Perry. But Valero doesn’t limit herself to creating one-of-a-kind pieces for the upper-eschelon and Hollywood elites.

“I have spent a very long time in this industry, and I’ve designed a lot of beautiful gowns worn by celebrities on the red carpet. But I find it very fulfilling to create something that is useful for [everyday] women—clothing that is practical, but also encourages women to be creative.”

Ximena Valero for Vanichi Magazine

Photo credit: Rodney Ray

 

This combination of practicality and creativity is most evident in Valero’s internationally acclaimed line of transformable fashion. The clothing line consists of versatile items that can be transformed in a variety of ways to suit any situation.

“A piece can go from casual to formal, sexy to conservative, and everywhere in between. It’s a way of thinking [as much as it is] a line of clothing—it encourages the consumer to be versatile, creative, and unique.”

Valero found inspiration for transformable fashion while working as a creative director at the New York Fashion Group photo studio. Many modeling agencies used the studio for shoots, but since Valero didn’t want to re-use the same outfit in multiple shoots, she had to improvise. She discoveredthat a piece of clothing could be manipulated and used outside of its stated purpose—for example, a skirt could be used as a top—which lead her to experiment when styling for models in the studio. Then Valero had a realization: If a line of clothing was created to facilitate and encourage these kinds of transformations, the possibilities would be endless.

Valero’s first line of transformable fashion debuted in 2009, and since then her team has created a web series to showcase the variety of transformations each outfit can achieve. An additional web series asks average women, “What is beauty?” and documents how they use transformable fashion to creatively answer this question. The series shows how transformable fashion allows women to define their beauty and tell their story through the styles they embrace.

Source: XimenaValero.com

 

“My goal was to encourage women to be unique—to not follow trends but instead create their own,” Valero told me. “We are all unique and we all have style. It’s a matter of putting yourself in front of the action of styling yourself. This line of clothing gives you that opportunity—you can be the designer.”

As Valero continues to create innovative fashion and challenge the status quo within the industry, she told me that her focus for the future is on legacy—not only her own legacy as a designer, but also the lasting impact she has on the planet.

“Over the last few years I’ve traveled to some of the manufacturers that produce my clothing, and I discovered that they throw away a lot of fabric and materials they can’t use anymore. So I have been developing a project called Chic Couture, which will take those materials and donate them to up-and-coming designers. It’s been a long process, but I now have the backing of the fashion school at the University of Mexico, so they’ve been a big help with moving the project forward…Ultimately, of course, I want to leave something positive behind for the fashion world, something to be remembered by. But [just as important], I want to help create a more sustainable world in the process.”

Ximena Valero for Vanichi Magazine

Photo Credit: Rodney Ray

 

-Scott RODD