The city of Boston shines for design again, this time coming via the Cape Verde islands with Casa de Angelina’s elegant and easy gowns. Designer Angelina Monteiro creates stunning dresses with the ease of athletic wear in stretchy and often sequined fabrics. Angelina believes that every woman should be able to dress in a way that reflects the glittering personality in all of us. Shoppers feel like they are dressed in a one-of-a-kind originals with a touch of sassy at an affordable price point – tested and approved by pageant queens, including Miss Teen USA 2015 (pictured above). Today we meet the ever-bubbly Angelina as she tells us about getting inspiration from funerals, Cuba, basketball coaches, and the brightness she sees in all her clients.
Tell us a bit about why you started designing?
I started designing in Junior High and kept teaching myself how to draw throughout high school. I wanted to be a fashion designer because, after seeing celebrities on TV wearing gorgeous clothes, I thought, “Wow! I will never afford to buy those clothes so I’m going to learn to make them.” Being able to see those beautiful gowns and dresses on TV made me so happy. It took me from a black and white world to a colorful world of possibilities. I started setting goals for my future, thinking to myself that’s what I want to do, dress people and see them look and feel gorgeous in my clothes. I really want celebrities to wear my clothing because that means I really made my dreams come true.
What is your fashion philosophy?
“I believe that everyone has the right to look grand in what they wear.”
That’s my slogan and my foundation. Fashion comes from within, who you are or who you allow yourself to be. What you wear is a direct reflection of your personality and mood at that moment. You can often tell if a person is happy or sad by the way they look. If I could afford it, I would wear Dior gowns to go food shopping or walk my dog – just like in a commercial. I really would do that. My philosophy is, in order to be the best you can be, select clothes that help you feel like you’re on top of the world. My goal is to create Casa De Angelina fashions that make you feel happy, confident, and powerful. And to give back. As a part of my mission to make the world a more beautiful place, Casa De Angelina Charity Collections provides funds for Our Children Our Future, a 501 (c) (3) organization that gives clothing, food, school supplies and toys to impoverished youths in the Cape Verde Islands where I was born.
How has your design changed over time?
I started off with couture, custom-designed pieces for clients wanting bespoke outfits for specific occasions, but am now learning to design ready-to-wear pieces. My custom fashions were created by draping but now I am utilizing flat patterns as well. Instead of doing so many silhouettes, I have started to focus on a few that I want to be known for that will help to strengthen my brand. I stick with styles that speak to my personality and passion. When I make a dress it’s important for the clients to love it but I want them to know that I love it as well.
What inspired your first collection?
My inspiration for this collection was Havana, Cuba at night. It combines that old school, elegant vibe with a sultry, sexy, beat-driven party atmosphere. Music that touches your soul and dancers that really speak to your eyes. Fashion in Cuba must also be inspiring, reflecting the passion and energy of the Cuban culture. Strong, vibrant colors and prints, evoking the past of Cuba, combined with headpieces and sheer fabrics mirroring the current resurgence. Havana Nights is a perfect theme for fashion that delivers the fire and ardor of Cuba. Plus, also helps that another idol of mine recently showed there (Chanel).
What is your biggest hurdle building a brand today?
It is not easy to build up a client base when the world does not know your brand yet. Building a brand without a large budget for marketing and publicity is clearly challenging. Trying to find out who are the right people in my target market to reach out to on my own has been hard. Even when I was lucky enough to find the right person, I’ve had a hard time selling myself. Luckily for me, I applied to join Nineteenth Amendments and after going through the process I found out that I was accepted. That was a great moment, to know that I would be working with amazing, talented people. Being with Nineteenth Amendments is a huge opportunity for me and I look forward keep trying to make my clients happy by providing them with the clothing they are looking for.
Where do you go and what do you do for inspiration?
I love life, I love people, I love animals – and I love my heritage from growing up in Cape Verde. Each one of these things provides inspiration to me in different ways, at different times. As a creative person, I really think that inspiration comes to me from everything that happens to me. Unfortunately inspiration not only comes from the good things in life, but also from the sad things in life – like a funeral driving me to do couture bold black dresses with a touch of white for hope and faith.
Any tips and tricks of the trade?
You know the secret to becoming a successful fashion designer is perseverance. It’s when you go through all of the process to trying to become successful and you still end up feeling like you’re back to square one, then trying to find another way to do it. It’s telling yourself, “I will keep trying.” That’s how you know that all you want to be is truly a fashion designer – so keep being a fashion designer. I fight for this every day – I never stop fighting. I keep only people around me that will make me better. I refuse to do anything that will slow me down because most of the time I feel like I am chasing my dream in slow motion. Why would I want to feel slower than that? Have hope, have faith, pray but also know when to take a break to just cool off and recharge yourself. The famous words of Jimmy Valvano come to me all the time – “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.”
Be a queen everyday in Havana Nights.