As a young boy, designer Carlos Marrero was obsessed with clothing patterns; more specifically, the beautiful images of fashion-forward women on their packaging. His grandmother (who helped raise him because his mother was a single, working parent) loved sewing designs from the likes of McCall’s and Butterick’s.
By doing so, she unlocked his artistic imagination without even knowing it. After she would finish a pattern, or at least take it from its packaging, Carlos would study the drawings and practice replicating them over and over again. He laughs wholeheartedly when he relays the story to me at Circa 39 Hotel on Miami Beach, where I interviewed him and shot fashion photos for the blog.
“Try being a boy growing up in Puerto Rico drawing women from patterns,” he told me, coyly. Carlos doesn’t just have a great sense of humor about it, he’s beyond modest when it comes to relaying just how successful he’s become as a fashion illustrator. After honing his skills when he was young, then going on to art school in Chicago and hustling his way into the office of a major fashion magazine (to fill in for someone who had cancelled at the last minute,) he finally got his big break.
Over the next 25 years, he would draw, sketch and create images for some of the most powerful fashion magazines in the world: Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Latina and Vogue. Over the last few years, though, Carlos has gone through a major transformation, recreating and re-branding himself, especially as the magazine world has fallen into a hushed corner due to the social media revolution.
Part of that transformation is called the “Marrero Collection,” an affordable accessory line featuring beautiful boho scarves and glamorous black and white purses. Each item is adorned with one of Carlos’ famous sketches; a fetching fashion lady, whimsical shoes, pretty purses, fabulous flowers, a lucky white elephant, tropical turtles or a tempting tigress.
As a fashionista who’s been hoarding scarves for years, I’m in love with his neckerchiefs (a smaller scarf, easily wrapped around your hair or neck.) When I confess this to Carlos, he laughs and says: “You gotta love a good purse lift, too.” When I look at him perplexed, he explains…
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Editor: Matthew Auerbach