Esteban Cortazar on the runway in Miami

It only seems fitting that the youngest fashion design to showcase at New York Fashion Week would be from Miami.

Esteban Cortazar, 21, moved to Miami Beach from Bogota, Colombia. He began to embrace fashion at 12 years old after he was introduced to designer Todd Oldham and invited to be his guest at his New York show.

“Miami in the 1990s was a fashion window for many influential designs and photographers. I was around it and spontaneously fell in love with fashion and design,” Esteban said. “Miami has been my base and stepping stone to fashion.”

South Pointe Elementary School in Miami Beach was the first to experience Esteban’s designs. At age 13, Esteban showcased his first collection of nine pieces for the school’s talent show and only two years later Esteban made his unofficial debut with a 30-piece set at Miami International Fashion Week.

“That collection was very premature and spontaneously done in different moments. I was just enjoying the experience of showing my work,” Esteban said.

In March 2002, Esteban temporarily switched locations and embraced New York for the presentation of his first collection (Fall/Winter 2002) consisting of 14 eveningwear pieces at New York Fashion Week. Introduced under the label CORTAZAR, Esteban claims he designs for the “women that know what they want, are secure with their bodies and are always up for taking risks.”

Fashion tends to be a cut-throat industry for beginners, but Esteban believes that his young age actually helped him make his breakthrough.

“The fact that I was so young and doing my own fashion shows caused for many people to notice and keep their eyes open for me in the future,” Esteban said. “Now it is important for me to make every collection top the previous one and continue to prove myself as a designer.”

Esteban is currently working on a spring 2007 collection and has been keeping busy living in Miami and New York-not the average life of a 21-year-old.

“I don’t regret the way my life has been sketched out, the childhood I had was the one that was meant for me to have,” he said.

Esteban has dressed stars such as Paris Hilton, Eva Longoria, Beyonce Knowles and Ashanti, and has had some of his pieces featured on HBO’s Sex and the City.

“My collections are fresh and they can appeal to many young women who are savvy, smart and that have a passion for life,” Esteban said.

Esteban’s collections can be found at select Neiman Marcus stores and specialty stores nationwide. Despite the attention and chaos that surrounds Esteban, he has never forgotten his Miami roots and influence, and tries to incorporate them into his designs; at only 21 years old, Esteban can truly be considered a fashion prodigy.

March 24, 2006


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.