The Art Institutes
September 10, 2016 AT 07:02 PM EDT

While renowned designers continued the tradition of the famed week of fashion, nine up-and-coming fashion designers had the pivotal opportunity to debut their collections on an esteemed runway. 

In it’s eighth season, The Art Institutes systems of schools resumed it’s partnership with New York Fashion Week to provide talented students and recent graduates with the moment to shine light on their work.

This year’s theme was “Destinations,” and the nine finalists “were challenged to take us on an inspirational journey of discovery and the collections that resulted will walk the runway of The Art Institutes Spring 2017 show,” said The Art Institutes. 

On Sep 8th, the talented group revealed their Spring/Summer 2017 collections at the The Arc, Skylight at Moynihan Station. Chica went backstage to catch up with the Latino designers who made the cut and asked them: “How did your country inspire your collection?”

Maria D’Ocon

Fashion Design (BFA)

Miami International University of Art & Design

Birthplace: Barcelona, Spain

“My inspiration comes from my culture, my Spanish land, and I’m especially inspired by artists such as Antoni Gaudi, Dali and Picasso. They always brought me a great influence since I was young and I always liked to convey their art in my designs.” 

The Art Institutes

Mimmy Begazo

Fashion Design (BFA)

Miami International University of Art and Design

Birthplace: Peru

“The creations that I make, that are modern and futuristic, is because I am also an engineer and studied the career in Peru. And all that time that I did engineering was in Peru and when I came here [United States]— I said, “Ok, what more can be done?” and I connected fashion with my career.”

The Art Institutes

Julissa Arrington

Fashion Design (BFA)

The Art Institute of California- San Francisco, a campus of Argosy University

Background: Colombian

“I think Colombia, on the subject of all that happened in the ‘80s and when it was all about cocaine, inspired me a bit because the drugs go hand in hand with madness.” 

The Art Institutes

René Mejia

Fashion Design (BS)

The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale

Birthplace: El Salvador

“The truth is that it [the inspiration] comes more from the paintings. But of course in the future everything will change and I would love to export fabrics and integrate my culture more in my future collections.”

The Art Institutes

Check out the highlights of the Art Institutes Spring/Summer 2017 show below:

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