(April 3, 2019) – Amid 11 days of celebration, San Antonio fashion guru Michael Quintanilla and designer Graciela Carrillo take a step back from the party and look at the colors, clothing, and fashions that brighten the city’s annual Fiesta celebration.
The UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures (ITC) welcomes these two fashionistas for the new exhibit, “Fiesta Passion, Fiesta Fashion,” April 6 – May 5.
“Fiesta is such a fun time of year,” said ITC executive director Angelica Docog. “San Antonians express a joy and love through their clothing, with vibrant colors and over-the-top accessories from head to foot. With two of our city’s finest minds in fashion curating this exhibit with items from their own personal collections, we’re looking forward to something exceptional at the institute this Fiesta season.”
Fiesta Passion, Fiesta Fashion will showcase the dazzling clothes, hats, shoes, dresses, uniforms, purses, pins, medals and more that embody and express the vibrancy of the Fiesta season.
Quintanilla, an award-winning journalist and former fashion writer at the Los Angeles Times and San Antonio Express-News, is a common face on the Fiesta circuit, emceeing and attending events clad in exuberant attire, rife with sequins and rhinestones, and topped off with flamboyant hats.
Graciela, a designer and local legend, has dressed Fiesta royalty, wives of the Rey Feo, event hosts, and presenters at the Tejano Music Awards. Her unique creations blend Western panache, the Latin flair of her Mexican heritage, and the international spirit of San Antonio.
“When I think about Fiesta I think about what I’m going to wear, which has to be memorable,” said Quintanilla, known to all as “Mr. Fiesta.” “For Fiesta, I create my own over-the-top garments, hats and shoes. After all, a party demands party clothes. For me that means bling — the more bling, the better.”
Among Quintanilla’s favorite pieces in the exhibit is his signature 1972 vintage drum major coat, a gift to him by a good friend. Quintanilla has hand-embellished the dazzling garment through the years with rhinestones, crystals and metallic fringe, adhering to his motto of “more is more.”
“But every garment, every hat, also tells a story about my culture as well as my love for pop culture and what’s happening in current events and politics, too,” he said. “The fun is in finding a colorful and hopefully, irreverent spin on all of it because it’s Fiesta.”
While Fiesta royalty celebrate the week in duchess gowns, Texas Cavalier uniforms and Rey Feo crowns, everyday San Antonians join in the celebration with sashes of medals, decorated hats, colorful shirts and other attire that capture and display the spirit of Fiesta.
“I enjoy this so much,” Graciela said. “Working with each piece, you get to know them, to develop connections with the fabric.”
Graciela sources fabrics from across Latin America, often traveling to Mexico to find the perfect fabrics for her work. She embellishes traditional patterns and materials, creating spectacular designs for women of all shapes, sizes, and ages.
Graciela lives a “wear it now!” philosophy. “Life is too short not to wear beautiful clothes,” she says. Drawing from her more than 30 years of designs, Graciela has selected pieces that highlight some of her most iconic styles, as well as new forward-looking creations.
She recently created a Frida Kahlo-inspired floral crown with a mixture of cornhusk and silk flowers, revealing the springtime style of San Antonio. Other pieces reflect her unique blend of Tejano and Western influences.
Graciela once dressed community leader Teresa Wickham in a hand-beaded and suede-fringe poncho, and Maria Elena Torralva-Alonso in a pinstriped blazer with hand-stitched sequins and leather fringe for the Tejano Music Awards.
“Some people might wear Fiesta’s hallmark patterns and bright colors as a once-a-year costume, while others might wear these colors and patterns year-round as symbols of their heritage,” said Victoria Ingalls, curatorial researcher at the institute. “The Fiesta fashion represents San Antonio’s complex history of cultural interactions, shared heritage, and vibrant and diverse communities.”
“Ultimately, this exhibit represents a love story for a citywide party that expresses exactly what ‘Puro San Antonio’ means, and I’ve got the glue gun burns to prove it!” Quintanilla said.
The UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures is located on the UTSA Hemisfair Campus, 801 E. César E. Chávez Blvd.
Learn more about the ITC including hours and admission.
Experience Fiesta San Antonio.
Celebrate UTSA’s 50th Anniversary and share social media posts about the 50th using the hashtag #UTSA50.
Come to Bandera Market to celebrate national Hispanic Heritage Month with Hispanic vendors from a variety of countries. Free entry.Bandera Pointe Shopping Center,11627 Bandera Road
The College for Health, Community and Policy at UTSA is proud to present the Dean's Community Lecture Series, a series of events bringing community leaders from San Antonio and beyond to foster the natural leadership abilities of students while discussing critical topics in our community.Virtual Event
A video on Instagram Live (@UTSA_MSCEJ) of Chef Jesse Moreno-Valle from Aramark creating a couple of great dishes: sopa negra (black bean soup) al estilo Costa Rica y güirilas (a crepe style item made with corn and a cheese filling) from Nicaragua.Virtual Event
Visit the library to learn how to make your own Worry Dolls. Pick up a supply packet to make at the library or to take home. Worry dolls (also called trouble dolls; in Spanish, Muñeca quitapena) are small, hand-made dolls that originate from Guatemala.San Antonio Public Library, 9050 Wellwood, San Antonio, Texas 78250
For Hispanic Heritage Month this year we will be reading two books, starting in September with "I, Rigoberta Menchú", an autobiography. The October book will be "Cemetery Boys" by Aiden Thomas. Students who join the RJBC are eligible to receive the book free.Virtual Event
Dueling Tacos are on the menu for Noon Time Helping of Mexican cuisine in San Antonio Public Library's Virtual Kitchen! Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in style and discover new taco ideas!Virtual Event
Join the voice and instrument ensembles in this welcome back concert outdoors near the central fountain. Jazz, band, and choral favorites will be performed against the fall sunset--and it is all free!Sombrilla Plaza, Main Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.
UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.
The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.