Honoring a family’s legacy
By Susan Baldani
Biridiana Torres’s family has a long history of following the American dream. Her grandfather, Maximiano Garcilazo, came to the United States from Michoacán, Mexico, in his early 20s to pursue a better life. Shortly after, he brought his wife Margarita to join him so they could raise their children in their newly adopted country. Biri’s mother, Monica, was born in the United States.
When Biri decided to pursue her own dream of starting her fashion design business, IXO’LOYANA, her family couldn’t have been more supportive. Her mother has become her go-to person when she needs a second opinion, and Biri often sends her pictures of dresses and asks her for feedback. Her father, Arturo Martinez, who was born in Mexico, also loves to see her creations.
“My parents are very proud and excited,” says Biri. “They love seeing a new finished dress or hearing about new opportunities.”
Biri knew from a young age that she wanted to design dresses. As a little girl, she would carry a notebook in which she would sketch every day. In high school, when she was getting ready for her junior prom, she couldn’t find a dress that matched the vision in her head. She ended up having to settle for what she could buy in a store.
“In my senior year, I was like, ‘That’s not going to happen again,’” she says. “So, for senior prom, I made my own dress. At the time, I didn’t know exactly what I was doing, I just did it. Surprisingly, it turned out really nice.”
That’s when she knew for sure that designing was her passion and what she wanted to do going forward. She applied to Colorado University and was accepted into their Design and Construction program. In addition to obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in Apparel and Merchandising in 2016, she also interned for the Wedding Seamstress in Arvada in her junior year and at the Anabella Poletti Design House in Fort Collins in her senior year. The skills she learned at both places were invaluable.
“While I was interning, I was able to do things I didn’t learn in college,” says Biri. “I learned all the tricks you need to know, such as working with lace, which is so delicate, and how to make a wedding dress look structured. I also learned awesome tricks to make fittings and alterations easier.”
The first custom dress she made on consignment was in 2016 for a teenager celebrating her quinceañera, a celebration of a girl’s fifteenth birthday common in many Spanish-speaking families. Shortly after, in 2017, she opened an Etsy Shop, and the orders started pouring in.
“I got many requests for custom dresses,” says Biri. “Everything from a confirmation dress and a prom dress, to a first communion dress and wedding dress. Basically, anything that was formalwear.”
All of these dresses were custom designed for a particular individual, so no two dresses were the same. On average, it takes about two months to complete a custom dress, but she can make them faster if necessary. She also works on multiple dresses at a time.
Since making these dresses is very time consuming, she hasn’t had the time to do much else. Until now.
“I’m taking a break from custom dressing and taking the time to design a collection,” says Biri. “By making a collection, I feel that I can truly express myself as a designer. I have the ability to be very innovative and very creative.”
She is also doing this collection to reintroduce herself as an individual and as a designer. She has seen many small businesses doing Meet the Maker posts on their social media pages, and decided that she is going to do a Meet the Maker collection. In this way, she says, she can let everyone know who she is, but in dress form. There will be a total of six dresses in the collection.
“Each dress is going to represent me in some sort of way,” says Biri. “So, the first dress is describing my Mexican American roots. I call it Beautiful Roots.”
When you see it at first glance, it’s going to say USA on the corset which will be in sequins, which are reversible. The American flag is on a short, belted skirt. But then, when I switch the sequins up, it will reveal the word Mexico. And when I drop the skirt it becomes a long skirt which will reveal the Mexican flag.”
Biri removed a Mexican eagle from a shirt she already had and sewed it onto the skirt to look like part of the flag. For the American portion of the skirt, she says she was lucky to find the most perfect upholstery fabric for the blue and white stars and the red and white stripes. It works wonderfully because it gives the skirt some structure.
For the second dress in the collection, she decided to do an inside out dress. This is to show how much work it takes to make a dress. The third dress will be an ethical dress that uses vegan leather; Biri is a vegan. The fourth dress will represent how much family means to her, so she’ll be using a family tree as an inspiration. The fifth dress will represent her aunt’s name, IXA’LOYANA, which is also the name of her brand.
This name, she says, has a meaning behind it. Many of the letters represent the moon in some way.
The first two letters, she says, represent Ix Chel, a moon goddess from Mayan mythology. The “L” represents Luna, which is Spanish for moon. The “O” represents the shape of the moon, and “ANA” are the last letters of her full name, Biridiana. And Diana, in Roman Mythology, is a moon goddess as well.
“When I first started, I remember looking up at the sky whenever I didn’t feel inspired,” says Biri. “It would make me realize that we live in a beautiful world with a beautiful sky and moon, which I connect with my brand because I feel it is classy and edgy.”
The last and final dress in the collection will be more of a casual outfit. This will be something that she would wear to a show or a concert. She expects the whole collection to take about five to six months to complete.
“I feel blessed to have the opportunity to start a business in the U.S. because my family sacrificed and worked very hard to make it to this country,” she says. “I also feel inspired to continue growing and achieve more not only for me, but for my family and community as well.”
To learn more about Biri and IXA’LOYANA, go to https://www.etsy.com/shop/Ixaloyana.
Written for Loveland & South Lifestyle magazine in Colorado.