Mauricio Alpizar fought hatred and prejudice to bring multicultural design to NY catwalks.
Mauricio Alpizar, when and how did you arrive on planet earth?
I believe I’m from heaven so I guess I came from there! My first destination in this world was the country of Costa Rica where 45 years ago I had the very great privilege to meet my amazing mother, Señora Elsie Alpizar.
How did you grow up, and what were your parents like?
I come from a very large family of tailors and farmers. My grandmother had 16 children including my mum, and as a typical Latin-American family we all lived in the same suburb and city, so you can imagine the Latino drama and fabulous parties! I wouldn’t have had it any other way. My mother was both a mother and a father to me. I’m all about my mother.
When you were a teenager, was there one event that changed the way you thought about life?
I went to a boys’ school where I was bullied a lot for being in touch with my feminine side. I was ‘different’, as they say these days. Somehow I found the strength to face those boys and teach them a lesson that they will never forget. I managed to make them listen to the pain they were putting me through, and they did. From then on, everything changed. I felt no shame or fear any more, and from I knew I belonged in this world like everybody else. I started loving and respecting myself more.
Who is the most important person in your life, and why?
This a very complex question as so many people are important to me for different reasons, but at this moment I’m the happiest I have ever been. I married an amazing man that I call my hero, Danny, and he makes me feel safe and loved. On the other hand my son Santiago makes me feel the proudest and happiest father in this world.
In which country have you spent the most time, and why?
Funny I was thinking today about this and I realized I have spent half of my life in Costa Rica and half in Australia, where I now call home.
What does style mean to you?
Like my mother always says, you’re born with it – you can’t buy it.
What brought you to Bali?
I believe it had to do with destiny. In the beginning I was looking for a place where I could do charity work and I found an amazing orphanage called YKPA that looks after the street kids here. I got the opportunity to organize fashion events in Australia to raise money for their programs and that has been very successful. As a fashion designer right now I don’t believe there is a better place to be. When I am here somehow I get more inspired. I have wonderful friends that are like family. I love Bali.
When did you get into clothes?
I grew up with and was surrounded by my family’s very successful tailoring business in Costa Rica, then around 20 years ago I moved to Australia. I first arrived in Perth, full of passion and ready to further an already successful career in dance and choreography, which I did until five years ago when I went back to my roots in fashion.
How would you define your designs, and what inspires you?
I toured many countries for work as a dancer and choreographer and I think it is because of this and various cultural experiences that I possess a mix of creative flare and functional design that flows through all my work. My artistic background is evident in each garment I create; a fusion of my passion for culture, movement and art. As my drive towards multiculturalism has grown over the years, I have been inspired to work with the Aboriginal communities of Australia. This journey led to a collection called Australia based on Rebekah Treacy’s art work (an Aboriginal artist based in the Kimberly, W.A) and was showcased in New York Fashion week 2015 with the collaboration of the Dream Time Project. This project has been a major success within the fashion industry and has drawn interest on both an international and local level.
What do you do when you’re not designing.
I love to cook. For me it’s like having sex – you need to do it with love and passion. Every moment counts when you are cooking. From the music to the ingredients and of course the company. I love to entertain; it’s a big part of who I am. I also love a good shot of tequila.
What’s next for Mauricio Alpizar?
I want to reach a wider audience. Increase PR and marketing through social media and continue with an international online presence that showcases my designs through parades and trunk shows in order to gain the attention of high end retail department stores and investors. Then I want to open dedicated retail space and showrooms in Australia and other fashion capitals, including Bali. I’m also looking to expand into a men’s line and secure a place as one of Australia’s leading designers. Time to get busy.
Mauricio, we wish you all the very best of luck.