New York Designer Celebrates Anniversary and Continues to Reflect Her Texas Roots
“Shh…I am in SA!” read the subject line of Marisol Deluna’s email. I’d been trying to pin down the San Antonio native turned New Yorker since the Marisol Deluna New York 15th anniversary fashion show at Manhattan’s General Society Library last spring. After viewing Getty images and celebrity photographer Patrick McMullan’s photos online, I learned that the event celebrated her couture and signature collections with vibrant silk and cotton apparel alongside accessories for men, women, children and pets. While briefly meeting Deluna during her private family visit to San Antonio, I chased her down in New York to get a glimpse of the designer in her element. Luckily, she graciously invited me to her downtown loft and midtown design studio, where I learned other native San Antonians have also tread while working towards building their own fashion careers.
Based in New York since 1989, Deluna frequently invites creative students from Texas to not only visit, but get their feet wet in the fashion industry, like Korissa Henley Clark, one of Deluna’s first interns she still keeps in touch with today, “Marisol offered me the opportunity of a lifetime in New York City. My time with her gave me more clarity as to what I wanted to do with my career in fashion. It wasn’t long after returning home to Texas that I landed a job as a fashion stylist for Neiman Marcus.” While providing aspiring fashionistas with opportunities she experienced nearly 24 years ago, the eccentric designer, who lives between Manhattan, Buenos Aires, Chicago and Nova Scotia, manages to maintain her elusive jet-setting lifestyle. “I may be working from Paris, yet call me at 3 a.m.,” one of her emails read. “I work late often due to various time zones.” Ironically, the world-traveler has “never owned a car,” and is a vegetarian despite embracing Argentina and her Texan upbringing.
Upon arrival at Deluna’s downtown loft, I was greeted by a youthful, diminutive brunette in dark-rim eyeglasses. “An intern,” I thought at first, before remembering our Texas encounter. Endearingly quirky, she was wearing her sorority Alpha Phi tee and beloved Yankee cap while riding a skateboard indoors. “We have a Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga Arcade in the studio if you want to head up,” she said.
Stepping further into her private residence, I noticed a garment rack with apparel and accessories in Deluna’s colorful signature prints, which I learned were being transferred to her company’s Broadway design studio. Looking up and admiring a 30-foot ceiling within her duplex Manhattan home, she explained, “This 1920’s Art Deco building housed the Athletic Club where the Heisman Trophy was founded.” Her loft was once a swimming pool and much of the decorative objects within it have been restored or salvaged. This spirit of historic preservation is also at the core of her company Deluna by Designs Inc., and is demonstrated in most of her work. The Texas Pride Collection in particular, was inspired at a time when Deluna was perhaps restoring herself after the attacks on September 11, 2001.
“The Texas Pride Collection includes the most meaningful pieces I have yet to design,” Deluna explained. “I created these items to pay homage to my birth state after the attacks on my adopted city. Friends and family members in Texas alongside loving strangers literally embraced me.” The sale from the Texas Pride Collection enabled the company’s online sustainability at a time when fashion companies were forced to downsize, shut down or relocate. Deluna visited Texas shortly after 9/11, having lived and worked near the Twin Towers.
She lost her best friend Sara Elizabeth Manley, who worked in the North Tower, and Deluna herself survived the events of the day immersed in debris. “I was in shock and suspect I may never know what happened that morning. I faced evil that day, yet do my best to cope even now.” Marisol was temporarily displaced from the TriBeCa design studio and her loft located less than 1,000 feet from the former World Trade Center.
The Daughters of the Republic of Texas adopted Deluna’s scarves and ties from the Collection, which includes a denim handbag, silk scarf, ties, cufflinks and a pendant through the company. Additionally, the designs have been worn by many notable Texans including Laura Bush, Lady Bird Johnson, Ann Richards, Rick and Anita Perry in addition to many deep-rooted Texas families.
Today, her company keeps design studios in both hemispheres; however she has not forgotten her San Antonio and Texas roots despite her global outreach. She is currently working with King Ranch and has designed for the Mayor’s Office, Stock Show and Rodeo, International Affairs Department, Convention and Visitors Bureau, Fiesta, Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, National Society of Colonial Dames of America in the State of Texas, University of Houston, Friends of the Canary Islands and Museo Alameda Smithsonian to mention a few. “I am fortunate to choose only meaningful projects,” Deluna explained, while I picked up a large black book in her studio, “Wildlife on the King Ranch.” Fondly, Deluna added that, “One favorite project was created for the Alamo Heights Independent School District which honored my sister Linda Duffy, Texas Teacher of the Year in 2001. We improved a playground I had played in as a child.”
It turns out the “eccentric” jet-setter is as down-to-earth, approachable and generous as her projects. Designs benefitting charitable causes have created scholarships, museum programs, membership enhancement, official gifts and historic preservation internationally. In addition, Deluna recently received a Presidential Commendation from the largest and oldest Hispanic organization in America—The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) for her charitable outreach and professional achievement. “Rebranding many official items for the Girl Scouts for years has enabled me to become part of its 100-year history beyond having been a Scout myself. Mentorship is important and this is one of many organizations I embrace sharing knowledge. It’s terrific. The girls teach me a lot.” The Texas Pride Collection, along with other signature apparel can be found at www.marisoldeluna.com and her company’s facebook page- Marisol Deluna New York.
About: As a graduate of Alamo Heights High School in 1985, Marisol was elected to her student council, headed the National Art Honor Society and as a senior was voted “Most Artistic” and “Most Iconocolastic.” The daughter of Rudy and Peggy Luna, a retired areal cartographer and a museum docent in a home of her father’s design, she was encouraged to embrace creativity and her choice to move to New York after graduating from the Kansas City Art Institute and continuing at the Fashion Institute of Technology.