Outfitting Outrageous Las Vegans, From Vintage Vixens to Burlesque Bombshells
Ever wonder who has the fun job of creating costumes like the orange-fringed cocktail outfits the female staff wears at Tangerine? Or how about the booty-baring burlesque get-ups donned by the local Pussycat Dolls? Meet 28-year-old Angel Gonzalez, designer of some of Vegas’ most glitzy and glamorous duds.
“They don’t go out of here if they don’t look good,” he says of his clients. “Whether it’s in netting with snaps or a cocktail dress.”
But it isn’t all bawdy babes for the budding designer, who’s currently in-house at Sin City’s most popular vintage retailer, The Attic. He also works with local studio Dance USA to create elegant performance costumes for recitals (his most memorable one transformed a dancer into a whimsical carousel pony), devises fun Halloween costumes and makes one-of-a-kind pieces for special events.
The self-taught tailor assures that while retro forms inspire many of his custom creations, it’s modern fabrics that make them better than the originals.
“With new fabrics,” he says, “I can make a piece that fits nice, feels good, and is washable. Clothes used to be so much better made, constructed to flatter the body. Today they just make everything stretchy.”
Gonzalez has a certain inventive nature and stylish sensibility that got him the gig at The Attic in the first place. A fashionable fixture in the late ’90s rave scene, Gonzalez teamed up with party promoter Jacob Valverde in 2001 for a runway show and warehouse rave. Gonzalez’s nearly 60 piece collection, crafted entirely from a single roll of stretchy yellow Lycra, wowed the party people—one of whom happened to be Sophye, the daughter of The Attic owner, Marya Politis.
Stretchy yellow Lycra?
“Don’t get me wrong!” Gonzalez says, “I like stretchy; I do some of my best work in stretchy. But the cut has to be right, no matter what the fabric.”
Like Las Vegas itself, Gonzalez embraces both the outrageous (has has a favorite dominatrix client) and the elegant, infusing each of his designs with the classic opulence and inviting sensuality that the city is famous for.
“I’m yin and yang,” he says. “My two favorite fashion houses are Donatella Versace and Valentino, because they’re sophisticated but always sexy.”
Take one look at Gonzalez’s skinny rocker slacks in candy-colored brocade or his Mod gal mini-dress with shiny patent accents, and his preference for well-made, eye-catching pieces is obvious. Although the designer is always busy sketching custom pieces for his clients and creating patterns for his newest fits of inspiration, Gonzalez admits there are a few shapes he’ll always revisit.
“I love pencil skirts,” he says. “My mom used to call them ‘half-step skirts’ because they were so tight you couldn’t take a full stride.”
Gonzalez’s sparky leopard print version was recently picked up by one of his customers, famed tattoo artist Kat Von D; the purchase thrilled the designer but wasn’t a surprise.
“The modern pinup girls look great in these pieces,” he says. “I’ve been styling some pinup shoots lately, and it’s a perfect match.”
Written by Jennifer Henry; originally printed in 944 magazine, October 2007.