The opening statement of the fashion show from Director Elvira Zamora said it perfectly, “You wanna call me an alien, an illegal or a criminal, fuck you!”
The beauty of Chicano was exhuberated perfectly at the Chicano Elegance Gala that took place at the beautiful Los Angeles River Center & Gardens, Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority on Feb. 18 underneath Chavez Ravine. A location where many Chicanos were literally pulled from their homes.
“Before Dodger Stadium was built, Chavez Ravine was home to over 1,000 Mexican-American families. The three neighborhoods that made up the area were Palo Verda, La Loma, and Bishop. The families of the communities grew their own food, raised livestock, ran their own community functions, and many owned the title to their land.” According to www.sustainthemag.com
The execution from the patron’s eyes was nothing short of the perfection of showing the true alma of what Chicano is and will always stay in Los Angeles and around the world. After speaking with Zamora, she diclosed that so many parts were missing to her. The security didn’t show and other details that were of hire and didn’t show out. Zamora did.
Carmelo Rodriguez, a 15-time novelist and actor was one of the red carpet attendees.
“I’m truly grateful and honored to be a part of such a historic moment for Latinos. The Chicano Elegance Gala was phenomenal and filled with culture. As a member of the Latinx generation, I will also carry a torch as a Latino in history.” Said Rodriguez.
The beauty was displayed beyond just the designer’s inclusion, beyond the mezcal and tequila, beyond anything. It was a true representation of Chicano peoples that they can and will always be seen as a class of their own. Take it as you will for those who don’t understand what being a true chicano means, but let me tell you, “We are here and si se pude.”
For decades, Chicanos have been seen as a lower class. Chicanos have been discriminated against because they are indigenous. Chicanos have been faulted, unrightfully because of who they are. They are children of the sun.
The opening of the fashion show started with a ceremonious blessing– perfectly so. This was a major showcase that Chicano’s are people of the earth, people of the land and people that are worthy of existence. They don’t need a green card to show their worth or belonging to a land that is rightfully not only theirs, but everyone is included.
Zoot Suits and pompadoured women gave more than the novelty to the L.A. based culture. Women cladded in bedazzled gowns and abuelitas took the floor and owned it. It was a true homage to what Chicano is and what has not been seen.
“The Gala means to me a start of a movement to reclaim our real lineage. We came from Kings, Queens and Kingdoms bathed in gold. We were raped, robbed and slaved. I think we are way overdue for the resurfacing of our ancestors.” Said Zamora. ”
Actor, film maker and podcaster, Pete Villarreal commented on his experience.
“I really enjoyed the culture and how it brought together the history and heritage of the Chicano movement, both male and female. I felt like a true celebration of where our heritage comes from and shows that it takes good people like us (Chicanos), and the creators of The Chicano Elegance to keep that heritage steady and keep it alive.” Said Villarreal.
“The event should mean for the community that we need to look at ourselves in a different way, we have been stuck on survival mode and have not had the chance to get to the celebration of who we are.” Said Zamora.
A culture that means more than what the papers want to print. A culture more than that of what has been demonized on the screen, although they have seen rough times. But at the Chicano Elegance Gala everyone was family. It was a variety of the true meaning of being Chincao; through music, through traditional garb and through sprit. And it’s true to say, Chicanos are here to stay.
“We put this together not really because we want to, as it is a lot of months of planning and non stop work, but because we had to. No one else was putting an event like this for the community, and no one was ever going to. I have been waiting since 2001. I guess we just had to do it ourselves.” Said Zamora
We as the United States of America have seen the injustice of not only Chicano peoples, but of peoples of color. It is imperative to heal and see that we, as able-bodied human beings, to heal the torture and rapture of everyone with the beauty that can be created. Just like the seams that were sown in every garment, every placement of decoration, everything that the Chicano Elegance Gala gave toward was that exact and absolute sustained idea. You can not kill an idea. This proved that it is impossible to do so; we, as humans must follow.
When I spoke to Zamora over the phone she said that the Chicano Elegance was an apology to herself. Forgiving herself for her heritage. Well, forgive and forget chica because you owed it.
On behalf of the Los Angeles Journal, I commend the possibility of the idea that not only Chicano peoples can and will be represented in a higher light from what I witnessed. True passion, true culture and true love.