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Luis Machicao Bringing Haute Couture Down South

Carolina designer offers international sophistication

20100410-machicao01.jpgCertainly, New York, Paris and Milan remain the undisputed centers of high fashion. But in recent years, the Carolinas have seen an influx of designers with international backgrounds showing elegant, sophisticated lines that prove haute couture has a home below the Mason-Dixon.

Peruvian native Luis Machicao came to Charlotte, N.C., nine years ago, drawn by the weather from his initial U.S. base in Houston. He had designed for theater and opera, and even clothed the presidential family in his home country, but couture was his first love. Since he's arrived in North Carolina, he's worked to build a home for haute couture - and seen solid growth in the fashion community since his arrival. "There's still a lot to do, but we're making progress," he says of Carolina fashion. One sign of that progress is Charlotte's NC Fashion Week, which Machicao has been involved with since its inception in 2007. Last year, Machicao's show was the grand finale; this year, he opened the gala week of fashion shows and events.

Machicao's Fall/Winter 2009 collection, shown in the grand finale at this year's NC Fashion Week, showcases the elegant sophistication that has become his hallmark. Dramatic evening gowns are characterized by simple, almost severe silhouettes relieved by unexpected touches of softness, such as the fake-fur collar and cuffs on an otherwise plain long-sleeved gray gown, or vivid color, most notably fuschia and, in his 2010 collection, red. Men's suits, with their narrow cut and exquisite tailoring, recall the best of Armani, whom Machicao acknowledges as his biggest influence.

Machicao's work reflects his commitment to the fit and construction of a garment. He sells his work only by custom order, creating a one-of-a-kind piece for each customer. "People approach me because they like well-cut outfits," he says. "The jacket must be perfectly cut or it won't look good no matter how beautiful the body is."

At the same time, fashion, for Machicao, isn't about money; it's about taste. "You can dress well out of a thrift shop," he says. The idea is to cultivate a classic, elegant style embellished with what Machicao calls "a touch of avant garde. But just a touch."

That touch of avant garde can take any number of forms, from unexpected color to surprising accessories. The most exciting trend now, for Machicao, is the eclecticism of current fashion, the way in which designers are combining apparently discordant fashions. "You can combine a super-modern skirt with a jacket influenced by the 18th century, by Marie Antoinette. You can use everything now. It's exciting," he says.  

WHERE TO BUY: Luis Machicao - Couture is available by custom order only. He also offers wardrobe consultation services for both men and women. Contact him directly for an appointment. 
http://www.luismachicao.com/ or contact@luismachicao.com