Under the Radar Designer: Richard Eric Renteria
Once in a blue moon, we here at DFW Style Daily discover a new local designer that truly shines. His or her work might represent an unexpected perspective, or a forward-thinking trend, or sometimes, it’s the designer’s personal story that captivates. In the case of Richard Eric Renteria, all three of these elements converge in our latest Under The Radar designer find.
A native of Amarillo, Renteria, 35, is a recent transplant to the Metroplex, now studying fashion design at the University of North Texas. Though new to the formal study of the craft, his interest in design dates back to childhood, always with an eye for the smallest detail.
Details, in fact, are the hallmarks of Renteria’s Etiquette Vintage Designs. Named for the minutia of fine behavior – a gentleman’s handshake, a door opened for a lady – his sportswear separates evoke classic American campus life in the ‘30s, ‘40s, and ‘50s.
What better time than now, we thought, to show off these unique pieces? As we head into summer, looking forward to travel and relaxation, as so many students enjoy the first carefree days following graduation, we present our latest exclusive fashion editorial.
Photographed on location at Lake Grapevine, aboard a yacht polished to perfection, the images herein are just a taste of what’s to come in our full Fashion Editorial Gallery. In the meantime, read on for our interview with Richard Eric Renteria, including the details of his early inspirations, a celebrity fan of his work, and more.
Black Sailor Dress and Striped Knit Tie, Etiquette Vintage Designs;
Blazer and Trouser, Club Monaco; Diamond Pebble Necklace, Tie Band,
and Beaded Hoop Earrings, Couture Rocks
DFW Style Daily: Tell us a little about what first interested you in design.
Richard Eric Renteria: “My father was very dapper as a young man. When I was a child, he taught me to have respect for myself, and to always look one’s best. Later, upon entering high school, I started buying men’s and women’s fashion magazines. I would often rip apart and re-sew my clothing to make it more tailored, or just add more detailing. Perhaps, as a result of my incessant tinkering, my classmates often voted me ‘Best Dressed’.”
In your own words, describe your design aesthetic.
“Classic styles will never change. Women will always want to feel beautiful, and men will want to look powerful, in some shape or form. When making a design, I think about its purpose, and I believe that clothing should fit well and last for years to come. Choosing fabrics with great colors and durability is important to me, and since I am fond of vintage couture, I study styles from yesteryear, inevitably adding a modern spin.”
What is it that most appeals to you about the nostalgic period referenced in your designs?
“I’m infatuated with how romantic the era seemed. Social etiquette was prevalent, and refined behavior was paramount. Men wore suits to baseball games, and women wore dresses to run errands. In my thirties and back on a college campus, I frequently hear, ‘Why are you so dressed up?’ I usually respond, ‘Why are you so dressed down?’
Sitting next to students that have not changed clothes from the previous day really motivates me. I often tell people, ‘You never know who you will meet you on a given day, so be prepared.’”
Varsity Knit Cardigan, Etiquette Vintage Designs; Polo and Trouser, Club Monaco
Actor and recording artist Donald Glover from Community has become a fan of your work. Can you share the fun story of how you met?
“I dated the executive assistant of Texas-based jewelry designer Kendra Scott, and I learned a few things being around Kendra. I had to stand out from all other designers, and in order to be noticed, I needed to have my clothing seen.
Sitting down one night, I pondered, ‘Which modern musicians, actors, or athletes are really cool, but are also still trying to make it in their respective industries, like myself?’ The first person that popped into my head was Donald Glover. His story is amazing, and he’s extremely intelligent and stylish. Donald worked as a writer for Tina Fey while still in school at NYU, and has since become an actor and an incredible musical artist. I found his manager’s information, and wrote an email. I sent over some ideas, and explained why I’d like him to wear my designs, and week later, I received a phone call. I eventually designed a letterman sweater, a blazer, and a tie for him.
Following my work with Donald, the producers of Project Runway approached me to submit my work. Since then, I have worked with some other terrific talents, making some solid friendships along the way.”
From the letterman sweaters to the circle skirts to the suitcase filled with vintage treasures you brought to our fashion shoot, your perspective is clear and focused. What would you have been like at University in the ’50s? A jock? A fraternity pledge? A professor?
“I’m often asked this question. Honestly, I would probably still be the same person. As an undergrad at Texas Tech University, I pledged the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, and I still wear my fraternity badge on my letterman sweater. I love to let my dates wear it on cool Texas nights, and I would have done the same, back then.
Speaking of my time at Tech, I lived in the same neighborhood where Buddy Holly once lived. I would walk his old streets on my way to class. At my runway shows, I like to play one of his songs to honor him, as a thank-you for keeping me company.”
One-piece Swimsuit and Varsity Shorts, Etiquette Vintage Designs;
Headband, Gayle Metkalf; Aquamarine and Diamond Ring and
Aqua Button Earrings, Couture Rocks
Finally, what can we expect from Etiquette Vintage Designs in the coming weeks and months?
“I’m currently working on my submission for Austin Fashion Week. I’m keeping my designs vintage in feel, but am expanding into the era of The Great Gatsby. It’s incredibly entertaining to see those trends flourishing again, due to the upcoming remake of the movie. Also, I’ll be focusing more on menswear, such as ties, blazers, and pocket squares. I am using a lot of classic color schemes, making sure that every age range and body type can enjoy something from my upcoming collection.”
For more information on Etiquette Vintage Designs, visit EVintageD.com.
Photography: James Edward
Fashion Styling and Creative Direction: Juan Lerma, Amrel Styling Company
Makeup: Jerrad Trahan
Hair Styling: Rachelle Espindola
Fashion Assistant: Sean Charles
Models: Kyle Deaton and Avonlea Elkins, The Clutts Agency
With special thanks to Captain Dave and Black Watch Sailing Charters