Arturo Castañeda Contreras: Texan from the RGV to U.S. History; Mexican hands that built Kamala’s Inauguration Day coat

This week another page in our nation’s history was written, on January 20th 2021 Kamala Harris broke a class ceiling as she was sworn in and became the first Black and Asian American and first female Vice President of the United States!

As millions of us tuned in and watched from the safety our homes during this pandemic, we were able to witness the herstoric, momentous occasion.

Along with the events of the day, the inauguration fashions will be forever sealed in time. Just as many of Jackie Kennedy’s iconic looks are attached to certain events (and are now part of museum collections) so to will be remembered the famous dress Kamala Harris wore.

Vice President Harris ushers in a new era of politics, one where Black and Brown faces can finally see ourselves reflected, so it was a beautiful tribute that she chose to go with Black American designers for the big day, Sergio Hudson and Christopher John Rogers.

The – now iconic – purple dress she wore for the official swearing-in Inaugural Ceremony was designed by fashion designer Christopher John Rogers, 27, who is from the south (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) and is no stranger to dressing big names, like Forever FLOTUS Michelle Obama, Lizzo, Rihanna and Tracee Ellis Ross; but he will now also become part of history and the nation’s fashion archives.

Rogers then reached out to his friend and colleague, Arturo Castañeda Contreras, to partner in the process of constructing this historic ensemble.


Castañeda Contreras, is Mexican-American, a Texas native from the RGV (Heidelberg) said in an interview with Texas local media:

the designer on this is Christopher John Rogers, amazing designer…we got the call two, three weeks ago, we were told we need the jacket in three days, and then the dress in a day in a half…then I got a call from Rogers and he asked, Arturo can you make the jacket? …it’s typical for us to work together for people that are a big deal, ya know, it takes a village…”

Once the designs were created by Rogers, they went to Arturo and his team in New York, ‘Storytellers and Creators Mfg Co.’ (which includes another Texan, also from the RGV, Daesha Cano) the company created the pattern and manufactured (sew) that regal sophisticated top coat and blazer by hand and then also manufactured the dress.

What makes his story even better is that Contreras is self taught. He learned the craft and art of sewing alongside his mother, Alicia Contreras Pacheco. In an interview with Spanish media he said that although he has worked with phenomenal, internationally renowned designers like Ralph Lauren, there has never been a better designer that his mother. He shares this historic moment with her.

Salimos adelante por mi madre, ella representa una voz fuerte, es mi héroe, representa a México y a los Estado Unidos también a través de su hijos, es lo máximo, y aunque yo he trabajado con muchos diseñadores de renombre internacional como Ralph Lauren, pues yo era su mano derecha, estuve ahí con Mr. Lauren en Polo, pero no hay una mejor diseñadora que mi madre, no se compara nadie con mi progenitora, es muy fuerte. Así fue de los campos pizcando algodón y cebolla a los salones de la Casa Blanca” [milenio.com]

As he watched the big moment, he took to social media:

What a privilege and honor to have worked on this project! Overjoyed with tears. The real story is found with my Mom. An immigrant to this nation that has not been the kindest. From the fields as a migrant worker family to the halls of the White House! Not bad for a kid from a colonia Heidelberg, TX and San Antonio del Coyote Coahuila, MX” – Arturo Castañeda Contreras via Instagram

read our full profile piece on ALL the Latinx talent behind Inauguration Day fashions: click here

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