Tucked away in Hialeah’s warehouse district stands a discreet blue building among bustling streets. There’s no sign to give a clue as to what’s on the other side—the dynamic inner workings of the fashion label Rene Ruiz Collection founded in 1992. The brand is well-known for elegant gowns and evening wear that South Floridians can shop at its Boca Raton outpost or inside Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus stores.
Behind each gown is creative director Luis Escudero, who on most days can be found in a back corner of the studio (his personal space to put ideas to work). During a morning in August, he’s working through the day’s latest dilemma: deciding the shade of fabric to reorder a dress in for spring at Saks Fifth Avenue.
Some might call his surroundings organized chaos. Picture seamstresses working tediously on garments; mannequins of all different sizes; a fabric roll explosion in varied colors and textures; and clothing racks housing gowns that expand from floor to ceiling.
The Miami-born designer studied at the International Fine Arts College, now known as Miami International University of Art & Design, then later enrolled at Paris Fashion Institute. He worked numerous jobs before landing the role of senior designer at Rene Ruiz Collection in 2008.
“Every day is different. You roll with the punches,” Escudero says between numerous staff prompting him with questions about sequins and fabrics and more. “That’s what’s good about it. It’s very hands-on. You’re constantly changing with the collections.”
Several designs from the Fall 2019 collection will land in stores this month featuring gowns done in liquid metals and luxe prints, but Escudero shares a secret: He already has the Fall 2020 collection stashed away. “I don’t want people touching it,” he jokes. “I have it hidden behind a table.
“What I do is I forget about the past and keep going for it. I’m already in the future. I’m already over spring, and people aren’t even wearing it now.”
It’s not uncommon—it’s the fashion industry, after all.
Escudero and his team travel to Paris twice a year to meet with vendors in search of fabrics to bring back and collectively decide on designs for the upcoming seasons.
“The fabric sort of speaks and tells you what it wants to be,” he says while pinning layered fabrics onto a mannequin, something he prefers to do first. “Then you work out proportions.”
On this very mannequin, he combines a sheer fabric with an ombre sequin and layers them under a different colored sheer, turning them into his desired look.
When designing, Escudero stays true to the brand’s vision and customer. “She wants to be appropriate, but she still wants to be sexy, so you have to balance the two,” he says. “She wants to be conservative and not too flashy, but she still wants to sparkle.”
Keeping comfort top of mind is also key for the label. Escudero’s team has created some lightweight gowns that feature details like built-in bustiers with added stretch.
As for the future of Rene Ruiz Collection, Escudero is busy expanding the brand to focus on separates such as pants, blouses and jackets, in addition to cocktail dresses and boleros.