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Recently, RuPaul’s Drag Race season 9 “Fan Favorite” Valentina made headlines as she entered the fashion world as the new face of Mexican designer Benito Santos. In the special photo shoot for the new campaign, Valentina wears the designs of this talented designer, giving an unexpected twist to the label while strengthening her own personal brand post-Drag Race.
Benito Santos is a designer with ten years of experience. Santos first studied to become a doctor, but in 2005 he began to study fashion and design as well. In 2010, he left the world of medicine to fully immerse himself in the fashion industry.
During his journey, he’s had the privilege of dressing personalities from elite Mexican social circles, including the wife of the current President of Mexico, the First Lady Angelica Rivera. He’s also dressed Ximena Navarrete, winner of the 2010 Miss Universe title. Santos now considers Navarrete his own personal friend and muse. Several other actresses, hosts, and personalities have worn his glamorous designs.
Ximena Navarrete wearing Benito Santos.
We interviewed the designer and learned more about him and Valentina. Here’s what Santos shared with us.
How did this unexpected collaboration with Valentina happen?
Valentina followed me on Instagram before I followed her. She told me that when Ximena Navarrete won Miss Universe in 2010, she started looking for the creator of her dress, since she liked the style a lot. I recently sent a message via Instagram and Valentina could not believe it, she told me that she admired my work — and I could not believe it because I was the one who wanted to tell her how much I admired her. In that conversation, we promised to work together and then it finally happened.
How was it working with her?
It was amazing, very magical. We were three days together. We went to Tequila, Tlaquepaque and we connected in a very meaningful way. We are very similar. My designs are elegant, exclusive, opulent and Valentina is all that. I feel we made the perfect duo. Valentina’s desire to give voice to Mexican and Latin American art is surprising. She felt very happy and knew how to wear the clothes in the way that only she knows.
Does this new campaign have a specific meaning?
It was important for me to be congruent with myself. Having a drag queen like Valentina modeling these pieces that are made for confident, exclusive and unique women was supreme because this campaign speaks of diversity, openness and courage. It is very important not to be afraid and to be who you are.
Which designer or who inspires you to do your work?
My grandmother sewed from a very young age and I always felt very attached to her. Valentino is my top inspiration. For me, a Valentino dress is a piece of art. It is timeless, the aesthetic that it creates is so beautiful that it is forever. One of these dresses can be worn on a red carpet today or years from now and will always look flawless.
Using drag queens seems to be a trend in the fashion world. Would you work with a drag queen again?
I would definitely like to do something with another queen. I am a gay man and for me, LGBTQ rights are very important, I think actions like this one can make a change. And of course, I would love to do something with Miss Fame. She also inspires me a lot. And why not… RuPaul! That would make me very happy.