From the Metropolitan Opera to Kim Kardashian, Kesha, Billy Porter and Amber Rose, Celestino’s Fashion Makes a Statement While Protecting the Earth
Would you wear clothes with hidden messages? The sustainable couture line Celestino is inspired by intriguing forgotten pieces of history, and the socio-political issues that grip our times. Since 2005, director and owner Sergio Guadarrama and creative director Kade Johnson, supporters of the LGBTQ+ community alongside other social causes, have been creating luxurious custom-made pieces that bridge classical elegance, unique design and secret patterns. They source organic materials and upcycled fibres, and produce their clothes close to home in the United States. Celestino has dressed celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Indya Moore, Amber Rose, Kesha, Shontelle, Jaslene Gonzalez, and Billy Porter, including at the red carpet for the Tony Awards. More celebrity attention is sure to follow now that Celestino is joining the critically acclaimed fashion reality TV show “Project Runway” at the end of this year. We met with Kade and Sergio in the leadup to “Project Runway”, and Sergio shared with us about being inspired by female warriors and the power of storytelling through clothes.
Parvati Magazine: In addition to one-of-a-kind runway samples, you offer made-to-order custom clothing. What do you love about creating each piece unique to the client?
Sergio Guadarrama: I love creating a story using the client as inspiration in what they are passionate about. Usually, I tell it through historical references or political topics. The finished items are a great conversation piece because not only do they look amazing, but each one comes with a story. We break down what color and silhouette is going to tell the best story for each individual client to provide an experience that they will treasure.
Parvati Magazine: You created character costumes for the prestigious Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. How has this experience influenced your style?
Sergio Guadarrama: Having the hands-on experience in couture techniques that they do not give you in school definitely gives me an edge in the industry.
Parvati Magazine: Your fall collection this year was inspired by Japanese warrior women, onna-bugeisha, who fought alongside the samurai. How did you come across the onna-bugeisha, and how did you incorporate fierceness and femininity into your pieces?
Sergio Guadarrama: I love reading about history and came across the onna-bugeisha in an online article. I was hooked. Telling stories about equality and female empowerment is close to my heart. I wanted to create powerful and feminine silhouettes to tell the story of these women that were almost lost to history because of toxic masculinity.
Parvati Magazine: Your designs include hidden messages that speak to social issues or causes. When did this start and what are some of the messages you are including now?
Sergio Guadarrama: I started taking my passion as a tool for change when this current [US] administration came to office. The hate and ignorance sparked me to counterbalance the energy with storytelling through fashion and to bring awareness and change to difficult subject matters. When you use beautiful imagery, people are more open to listening. We have tackled human trafficking, women’s reproductive rights, and glyphosate, an herbicide that causes cancer in humans and is on all of our food in the United States. We have a lot more topics that will come out next season.
Parvati Magazine: You are committed to reducing waste by solely using upcycled vegan materials. How do you strike a balance between using natural fibres that are sustainable and eco-friendly while minimizing the ecological impact of synthetics, such as polyester?
Sergio Guadarrama: We try to use mainly upcycled natural fibres because they are biodegradable. We also try to repurpose synthetic fibers when we can, to give them a second life so they won’t end up in landfills where they will create more damage to the Earth. The future of our industry is natural organic fibres and we hope to push the industry toward that goal because it’s one of the most polluting industries in the world.
Parvati Magazine: You take pride in designing for clients of all ages and sizes. Why is this important to you?
Sergio Guadarrama: We feel that being an inclusive brand to make everyone feel welcomed is where the future of fashion is. That’s the way we should just inherently treat each other, to be a positive example of ethical business standards.
Parvati Magazine: You are an artist who specializes in creating beautiful, memorable items with minimal impact on the Earth. In what ways can large-scale conservation initiatives like MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary, complement this work or even be a source of creative inspiration?
Sergio Guadarrama: The Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary is providing the education and conversation that are essential to the future of mankind. Celestino stands with MAPS to bring this topic to light, and to help carry the narrative through the language of fashion to push countries to sign the MAPS Treaty.
Founded in 2005 by director and owner Sergio Guadarrama and creative director Kade Johnson, Celestino incorporates eco-conscious, fashion-forward couture construction for all sizes and body types. This haute couture line has been worn by celebrities, featured in international publications and appeared in numerous television shows and motion pictures.