Café Brazil is very lively as I wait for Mario Gallegos to meet for our interview. Determined, intellectual and spiritual are the first things that come to mind when describing Gallegos. Not only are his couture designs gorgeous and well crafted, but his humble attitude is downright inspiring.
Gallegos, listed by D Magazine in their “Top 5 up and coming Designers, is a star on the rise and has set the city ablaze. With such charm and growing popularity, you wouldn’t think he was as humble as he is.
How Long have you lived in Dallas?
My whole, entire life. Born and raised, Big D [Laughs]!
What schools have you attended in the area?
Well, I went to different ones. Private schools, I went to St. Mary’s in West Dallas, Sidney Lanier, and then I applied to Greiner and went there.
Pop Goes The City is about happenings and lifestyle in Dallas so what is your favorite places to eat.
I hate to say it but, Café Brazil [Laughs].
Where did your inspiration for fashion begin?
Well, my mom used to do like bridal stuff, like weddings, quincineras, and floral arrangements. Stuff like that. She didn’t sew, but she felt like she could open a business from that so I sort of picked up the interest from there. When I was little I also had influence from my grandmother. She would show me how to crochet and needle point…the things she learned in school back in the 1930’s.
A lot of famous designers have similar stories. Is there any designer that you look up to?
I think the one that goes on my alter at all times is Cristóbal Balenciaga and not just because of his background, he’s Spanish, but you know that whole romantic, Catholicism put into it. So I would say that he is my all time favorite.
What was the first piece you ever created?
That I personally created? I was still sort of thinking of getting into fashion cluster at El Centro. And I started a corset using wire hanger, saran wrap and a little Mardi gras mask, little stuff that my mom would throw out at the bridal shop. I picked trash, and crap, hot glued it and turned it into a corset. My professor thought it was amazing. He told me to add a skirt to it and entered it into a contest and I won 3rd place.
You were recently featured in D Magazine, how does that feel?
Actually, I don’t know I’ve never gotten attention here in Dallas. I’ve done fashion shows in North Carolina and have been featured in Southern Beauty magazine that comes out in Georgia; you know different places, but never here in Dallas. I’m like, it sort of goes back to the saying “You can’t be a prophet in your own land.” When I saw that they wanted to do something on me, it was exciting. I don’t want to let it get to my head, but I did go out and buy 10 copies of it, and my mom went out and about 10 too.
As far as your next move what are you looking to do?
The whole thing right now is I’ve done enough; I love the gaudiness, and avante garde. Now its time to get out of that sci-fi world and come into reality and figure out how I’m going to make money, and support myself doing what I love. So now I’m going to venture into ready-to-wear, and the process now is drawing, sketching and swatching fabrics. So that’s my next step making a ready-to-wear collection.
So are you looking to stay in Dallas with your work?
Well, that’s another thing, I’m going back to the idea of being a prophet in your own land. What you have to do is just leave. I was little bit ahead of myself going to Paris, I wasn’t really ready, but hopefully in a couple of months I’m heading to Madrid. If I can get a couple of boutiques to recognize me, to say “hey I know your there” I would be happy with that. All it takes is a single person to tell another person.
What do you do to get noticed in the public; does social media play a big role?
[Social media] That would probably be it, because it’s so easy to market yourself. I don’t know if you’ve seen my Facebook but on I Photoshop my pictures to make people remember me. Take Karl Lagerfeld for instance he’s known for his signature shades, white hair, and Chanel suit. Same thing for me – marketing myself, pushing myself, I am the brand.