“Coral Castillo’s collection features an array of stunning pieces that are structure, yet feminine and although entirely done in black, somehow ethereal and light. Coral’s designs show a love for texture and layers-dramatic shapes and draping portray a playful relationship with light and opacity” – Blythe Hill

Born in Mexico City, Coral found her passion for designing clothing at a very young age. Her mom was a dress-maker and Coral grew up with the exposure to fine fabrics and custom made clothing. In 2005, Coral started designing for selected clientele, without any guidance or training in fashion. Once she decided to pursue her passion she studied Fashion Design at The Art Institute of California – San Francisco. 

Graduating with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Fashion Design she received honors and was awarded best portfolio for fall 2012. In 2009, she won best overall effect for the Art Institute of California-San Francisco Fashion Show. Other awards include Best of Women’s DayWear for Discarded to Divine 2009 and 2010, 1st place in a design competition for OC-Fashion Week in 2011, and in 2013 Coral was recognized as one of the best designers in Orange County. In 2019 Coral won the Moss Adams Fashion Innovator award. In 2018 Coral participated in a series called STITCHED and ended as the winner of Episode 5. Most recently, Coral was a finalist of PROJECT RUNWAY S19. 


Can you tell us a little about your childhood cultural background and when did you decide to become a designer?

My life’s story is my biggest influence when designing. My mom has been a big influence on me since she was a dress-maker. When I was little I remember going to sleep with the sound of the sewing machine and waking up to the sound of the sewing machine. My mom didn’t want me to go into fashion because for her it was just to pay the bills, but I wanted to show her the other side, that it can be a form of expression, a form of art.

How does your creative process work? Do you have a specific strategy or just ‘go with the flow’? 

With my designs, I like to empower women, so I look to history or mythology for inspiration. Looking for women that have represented this strength and power. My collection Glorious is inspired by the greek goddess of Victory (Nike), and my Goddess  Collection is inspired by all the greek goddesses. I love how they are portrayed as powerful beautiful women. I like to play with strength and softness in my designs. My Collection Genesis is inspired by my beautiful Mexico. 

I think it is very important not to forget where we come from. My son wanted to meet his grandfather in 2019. We decided to go visit my dad after 23 years of not seeing him. I really forgot how beautiful Mexico City is. While in Mexico my Dad took us to a lot of cultural places; Bellas Artes, Castillo de Chapultepec, Museo de Antropologia and Teotihuacan. I fell in love with everything! While walking in the streets I saw indigenous women doing embroideries and it was beautiful. I knew I wanted to incorporate those embroideries in my collection. There are so many artisan makers in Mexico that live in poverty, and I wanted to take any opportunity I can, to showcase the beauty of it. All the embroideries I used were handmade and bought directly from indigenous people. I used Otomi embroideries and if you ever buy this art please do it directly from the indigenous people in Mexico.

Photography: Mark Gunter
Model: Tavon Johnson
Photography: Mark Gunter
Model: Tavon Johnson

While in Castillo de Chapultepec I saw murals of Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros that tell you the history of the revolution, on the mural I saw indigenous women fighting too. I found my warriors my women who I get inspiration from. In Genesis you’ll see some harness that have gold studs simulating the belted bullets that the indigenous women wore during the revolution.  

What about education in the fashion industry? Do you think is important before launching your own brand and why?  

I think is very important to have education before launching your line. It’s  a way to get resources and know the places that are available for materials to create your brand. You can learn from others mistakes and have a better understanding of how a brand works. I think working with established brands is also very helpful you can learn how they work. 

What’s it like to see someone wearing your creations?

When I see someone wearing my designs I feel completed. It’s everything! That’s the purpose of my work. 

Photography: Mark Gunter
Model: Tavon Johnson

What’s your favorite place where you feel more inspired? 

Museums and historical sites are my favorite places to feel more inspired.

I remember when I was at Louvre and saw the winged goddess of Victory (it was divine) or seen the Murals at Palacio de bellas Artes in Mexico or Museo Nacional de Antropologia. Everywhere I travel I visit their Museums. 

How challenging is the business part for a brand like yours?

It’s very challenging for me. I have learned a lot about it now, but it’s not something I like to do.  

How challenging is Los Angeles for a fashion brand? 

I think it’s easier to start a brand in LA than in NY. There aren’t as much competition as in NYC where there are so many designers and brands. Materials are easy to find and cheaper than NYC. Most of the brands here in LA are fast fashion which makes it easy to find all kinds of zippers and trims from different qualities. There are a few fabric stores that bring left over rolls from designers’ houses in Europe and NYC. The quality is great and I love that I’m not creating more than what it’s already existing.  At the moment I create per request. 

I also love to live close to Hollywood and there are different events with red-carpet that gave me the opportunity to dress celebrities.  

What’s next for your brand? 

I’d love to expand and create a men’s wear line next year. 


Photography: Mark Gunter
Behind the scenes – model Tavon + designer Coral Castillo


Instagram: @coral_castillo

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