HuffPo After Dark interviews designer and nightlife personality Domonique Echeverria about her inspiration, her design aesthetics, and why nightlife is so important for queer culture.
Describe your aesthetic — where do you draw inspiration from for your work?
I always say that my aesthetic can be summed up as a nod to the past and a wink to the future with the challenge of now….Spanish and Latin culture is a huge inspiration for me, from the design aesthetic of classic Spanish costume to the intensity and passion running through our veins, to the mystery of gypsies, to the confidence, sensuality and rhythm of flamenco dancers, tribal and native jewelry — I can go on and on. I have a lot of warrior blood in me and I embrace it, not to mention I was raised by goddesses! I’ve also always been inspired by Erté, Salvador Dali and Frida Kahlo. Art is a huge inspiration for me. My mother first gave me a book of Erté’s illustrations when I was eight years old and from the time I first turned through the pages I knew I wanted to be a designer. Not only be a designer but I wanted to create works of art to completely transform people into the best versions of themselves — which is why I’ve always been inspired by drag queens and transgender women. No one can work a look like a drag queen or a transgender woman.
How does your work as a fashion designer intersect with your role as a prominent nightlife personality?
Fashion is a universal language, and those who speak it tend to find one another. That’s how I met Susanne Bartsch. I was out one night at one of Ladyfag’s parties and I ran into my baby Dylan Monroe — he was standing next to this beautiful woman with long black hair, amazing legs and incredible style. I had no idea who she was and introduced myself. With a big smile on her face she handed me a party flyer, and complimented this black sequin kimono I was wearing. I told her I made it and she got excited and asked me if I made things for other people as well. We exchanged phone numbers and made plans for me to make her something.
I was nannying at the time for a very cool, open-minded family and during the day when the kids were at school I would go to Susanne’s house and go over designs. Around that time Greenhouse was getting ready to reopen and she needed someone to start hosting Vandam — and so she asked me. I was hesitant at first, because that’s not why I had moved from San Francisco, but I looked at nightlife as an opportunity to showcase my work. 99 percent of the time everything I wear is something I dreamt up and made — headdresses and all. It’s a good way to force me to come up with new work. I mean, I wouldn’t want to hire someone who wore the same thing every week so I push myself to not only come up with new costumes, but completely different aesthetics too. Sometimes I’m camp, sometimes glam, sometimes avant, sometimes nostalgic. The club is a runway for the strange and extraordinary — just look at the legacy of Halston.
Read the whole interview at Gay HuffPo. (Photos by Ryan Burke)