Celebrating 30 Years of Style with Aruba’s Fashion Icon: RONCHI

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Our team decided to approach Aruban fashion designer and multi-talented style guru, Ronchi de Cuba, for an interview. The interview results, as you may have guessed, are fiercely candid and fabulously revealing.

Ronchi de Cuba, born Ronald Oswald de Cuba JR., started his career in the fashion industry as an 18 year-old with a vision and the determination to turn his imagination into reality. He matched his ambitions with actions with the production of the “Back to Life” fashion event back in ’89, and has been producing events, designs, and fashion-related businesses ever since.

September 14th, 2019 marks the event date for the 30 Years of Style show that will be hosted at the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort, but what is this #30YearsOfStyle show actually celebrating? Well, how about three decades of Ronchi’s influence on Aruba’s fashion industry, to say the least.

To add to the stylish celebrations, on August 29th, 2019, Aruba’s  Prime Minister, Evelyn Wever-Croes, published a congratulatory post on her official Facebook page for Ronchi, with the following caption:

The Prime Minister on behalf of the government of Aruba gave a recognition to Ronchi de Cuba for his 30 years of passion and dedication towards the fashion industry. Congratulations Ronchi and THANK YOU for all you do for our beautiful island Aruba.

Now, scroll on to reveal our interview Q&As with Ronchi!

1. You’re celebrating 30 Years of Style this coming September 14th. What did day 1 of this 30 year journey look like?

Day one of this journey looked like pure fun. A few friends being creative. It never crossed our minds that it would turn into what it is today.

2. Before your career kicked off here in Aruba, did you have any background experience in fashion?

At first I had no experience whatsoever in fashion but we did want to do a fashion show. After a few years I said fashion is definitely something I want to study and that is when I went off to college. I attended the International Fine Arts College (now known as Miami International University of Art & Design) in Miami, Florida, where I studied fashion design.

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3. A little birdie told us that you, along with Di Aruba Moda, were the pioneers of modeling in Aruba. What set your organization apart in the early days of modeling in Aruba?

Actually, back then the island had three existing modeling institutes, which were: Alexander Fashion Institute, Style Fashion, and Di Aruba Moda. I would not call us a pioneer. I believe we came to change the scene. I believe what set us apart is that they were quite traditional and we came with contemporary ideas and kept reinventing the wheel.

4. What was the deciding moment for you with regards to fully committing to a career in the fashion industry?

We started doing shows in 1989. After two years of doing many productions I came to the realization that fashion and event production are definitely what I want to do for the rest of my life, this was in 1991.

5. What was your inspiration and vision at the time you first started your career?

People have always been and still are my main source of inspiration.

6. Did you have any role models in the fashion industry back then? If yes, who and why? Who are your role models today?

Yes of course I had many. I loved the daring aesthetic of Gianni Versace and Jean Paul Gaultier, the femininity always present in Valentino’s collections, and that in-your-face attitude of Roberto Cavalli. In recent years I have come to admire Karl Lagerfeld (r.i.p.) for his amazing talent and blunt attitude.

7. How did your iconic brand name, TRASH by Ronchi, come to be?

I believe anything that has monetary value is trash. The real treasure is in the heart and mind, and in how you treat yourself and others. TRASH is a multi-trend retail store. My brand name is RONCHI DE CUBA 😉

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8. Do you have any backstage KEY team players? If yes, then what are they in charge of?

I am very lucky to have amazing team members, not only backstage, but for all the productions we present throughout the years. Jairo Lacle, Gareth Tromp, Julio Andrews, Mieckey Gravenhorst, Kathleen Green, Nicole Godett and Sharine Croes are my key production team.

9. Working in the fashion industry, you must be juggling many different roles…Could you go into a bit of detail on what these roles consist of?

OH! I jump into all areas of my work. I am the creative director for the TRASH by Ronchi store, designer for SOLOBYRONCHI and RONCHI DE CUBA labels, president of KOMA MODELS, and producer of shows and TV shows. I strongly believe that you need to be able to perform all work-related tasks in order to lead a team.

10. Where do you get your inspiration for your collections?

Aruba and people.

11. Aruba doesn’t have any seasons, but fashion does. Do you create seasonal collections regardless of the weather?

Exactly…Aruba is summer all year round. We do mostly spring/summer and holiday. As for the store, we try to present seasonal trends and climate appropriate textiles for the island.

12. How long does it take you, and your team, to complete looks for a collection?

I can design an entire collection in one day. It takes about two months to construct the looks pertaining to a specific collection.

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13. What’s your current no-no with regards to fashion and style?

My current no-no is too tight or too naked.

14. What should all women have in their closets to make them look fabulous?

Confidence is key. Fit is also very important. I believe women should wear clothing that in someway represents who they are. After all, fashion and style are your nonverbal representation card.

15. What should all men have in their closets to make them fashionable?

Confidence. Fit is also as important for men as it is for women.

16. You create quite an inclusive collection of clothing. This is something that is just now catching on, globally. Are there some words you would like to share with other designers who have been open about staying exclusive, and not being open to creating clothing for all body types?

Inclusivity has always been part of, not only my collections, but my agency. I believe it to be very wrong if you only present fashion for one particular body type. After all, fashion is for everyone.

17. What can people expect to experience at your 30 Years of Style Show?

Highlights of three decades of fashion in Aruba showcasing MODELS from 1989 to 2019 wearing more than 300 fashion looks for both men and women, available at TRASH BY RONCHI and the SOLOBYRONCHI “Tribe” collection, as well as the RONCHI DE CUBA haute label “So Very Me” collection. Theatrical presentations and all that drama.

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18. What’s your message for aspiring fashion enthusiasts who are looking for a career in the industry?

Know your YES and your NO. Define your fashion design aesthetic, set branding guidelines, and never let anyone influence your creativity.

We hope you  enjoyed the fashion revelations with Ronchi de Cuba!

For more information on Ronchi’s 30 Years of Style show you can check out the event details here.

*All photos by Ronchi de Cuba, unless stated otherwise

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