The audience sits with phones up and ready for the music to play, and the models to come strutting down. But instead a video is projected at the front of the runway, showing the ideal state of Puerto Rico after recent events: a restored island, claiming to welcome her tourists once more. And with the ending of the clip, Oprah Winfrey’s powerful voice from her recent Golden Globes speech accompanies the strong thumping of the bass of the music. The lights turn on, and a bright rainbow array of colored dresses begins to dazzle the audience, the collection toying with both short and long dresses, with deep cuts in the back or deep cuts in the front. While staying true to her signature method of hand stitched lacing and beading, Stella Nolasco also added dimensional details of feathers and sequins to some of the pieces, taking them the extra mile — but perhaps, at times, a little too far.
Suddenly, in the middle of the presentation, a model walks down, a sign in her hand which reads, “CAN’T SAY AMERICAN WITHOUT RICAN.” The audience greeted the sign with loud cheers and whistles of approval. Then another came down, this time the sign saying, “EQUALITY IS SEXY,” and another with “We are U.S. citizens.” The show closed out with an elegant nude dress with cascading flowers down the body. The model, holding the Puerto Rican flag, proudly made her lap down the runway, accompanied by continuous applause by the audience. With a full view of the Freedom Tower, the collection and the presentation of the signs seemed all the more meaningful and relevant. It was an exciting reflection of the fun and flow of the beautiful Puerto Rican culture while sending a bold political message.
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