By Augusto Morel
Buenos Aires, February 1 (EFE). – Jorge del Busto dressed actors Michael Learned, Carolyn Hennesy and Loretta Swit for the red carpet and now those garments – works of art in themselves – are housed along with 11,000 other items at the Hollywood Museum in Los Angeles.
The Argentine designer, 53, opened the doors of his ‘workshop’ in Buenos Aires to EFE to talk about his career spanning more than 20 years and his haute couture designs, including the three pieces of clothing now housed in the LA museum .
“I dressed her for the red carpet, using handmade garments and recycled materials. I think the outfit that cost me the most is Michael Learned’s as it has almost a million beads and weighs between seven and ten kilograms. They are unique garments that are impossible to repeat,” said Del Busto in his workshop.
In contrast, the dress he prepared for Hennesy was embroidered French lace over a metallic corset. “Everything was completely handmade and most of the dresses have curtains that came from my living room,” said the designer, adding English phrases to his Spanish-language description because he has lived in the US for 23 years.
Oddly enough, he first came to prominence in the “fitness” industry, where he began to excel for his prowess in competitive aerobic gymnastics, physical strength and fashion sense in his clothes.
“I became one of the top guys in fitness and social magazine. They always called me one of the most stylish men in town, in Chicago and Los Angeles. I got noticed because of my Argentinian blend, I don’t know, like a ‘classy gaucho’?” he recalled, sitting comfortably in a half-open shirt, skinny jeans and bright red Texas boots.
In the early 2000s he was a physical education teacher and as his students used to go to lunch and discuss business, he got the idea to design a line of semi-formal athletic wear.
It could have been a forerunner of the style that made a splash in 2010, but by then he had already specialized in the world of high fashion, where the meaning of a garment lies in the details, the fabric and the design.
“It comes down to the basics. There are outfits that have structure, others that resemble… tunics, where the value is in the fabric and the looseness. They are made almost 100 percent by hand and from the finest materials. That’s a rule of haute couture,” he said.
While many pray diligently for creative impetus, Del Busto said his grandmother is his inspirational muse as she advised him to follow his dreams. She, he said, is his model of “impeccable elegance” and “the typical woman who doesn’t leave the house unless she’s made up, with her hair done and well dressed.”
Born in the small town of Puerto Rico in the northern Argentina province of Misiones and raised in the greater Buenos Aires area, Del Busto had to come to terms with his father’s prejudice against his love of fashion at the age of 12.
“I came up with a collection of about 14 drawings, some of them in watercolor, for a clothing line that fell to me. My family loved them until I showed them to my father. He tore up the sketches and burned them. He didn’t want a son dedicated to that task,” Del Busto said, seeming to attach little importance to the matter.
At the age of 21, he decided to pack his bags and head to Asuncion, where he worked as a physical education teacher. His fitness skills allowed him to specialize and broaden his horizons when he moved to Sao Paulo and eventually settled in Chicago.
“Meet people who can help you. If you want to make it, you have to go where the people are doing it,” was one of the pieces of advice his grandmother gave him, which motivated him to emigrate to the United States. There he came into the necessary circles that left a mark in the world in which he wanted to work.
At the same time, he constantly sought more knowledge and education in order not to be left behind in the cutthroat and rapidly changing world of fashion, but he never lost his sense of style. “These courses have helped me stay current. My creations have less to do with the times and more to do with what my customers want,” he said.
Although fashion is a cyclical industry, Del Busto has non-negotiable rules when designing his creations, including “There are things that can be emphasized and things that must be hidden no matter what.”
“Shoulders, neck and bustier, there is always something to emphasize. Age and weight don’t matter, it has to be emphasized without being commonplace,” he said, adding that his ideal model had to be “a clothes hanger,” tall, slim, without much breast and elegant.
And he concluded, “There’s never really a good excuse to say, ‘I’m not going to dress well.’ You can always dress well.”
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