From “Project Runway” to Broadway fame, Sosa inspired by both William Ivey Long and Oscar de la Renta
Like Oscar de la Renta, designer Emilio Sosa is originally from the Dominican Republic. And like William Ivey Long, he is known for designing Broadway costumes. Now, Sosa will join those other two famous names in visiting The Mint Museum this spring as part of the “Year of Fashion.”
Teens and educators are invited to register for a FREE event on Saturday May 19, ” From Page to Stage with Emilio Sosa ,” from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at Mint Museum Uptown. And the public is invited to a FREE public lecture on Sunday May 20 from 2-4 p.m. at Mint Museum Randolph. The events are part of the Mint’s celebration of national Art Museum Day .
When first approached by the Mint to pay a visit to Charlotte, Sosa’s reaction was immediate: “Both Oscar de la Renta and William Ivey Long have influenced my work in ways too numerous to mention,” he said. So it’s fitting that his plans bring him to the Mint when both designers’ work will be on view in the Mint’s galleries.
Sosa’s name first hit the mainstream thanks to the hit Lifetime TV show hosted by Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn. On the seventh season of Project Runway, Sosa gained international notice when he won five challenges on his way to a runner-up finish. He made his return to the small screen on season 2 of Project Runway All Stars where he also finished as runner-up. The seemingly tireless Sosa has a fashion line, ESOSA, which has been seen on stars including Uzo Aduba, Taraji P. Henson, and Wendy Williams.
The New York-raised Sosa has been designing since he was 14. He attended the Pratt Institute to study fashion design and it was a part-time job in the famed costume shop Grace Costumes that introduced him to costumes and theater. Upon graduation, Sosa worked in dance for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater as an assistant wardrobe supervisor. Next, he worked for Spike Lee at his advertising agency doing costumes for commercials and as the costume designer for Lee’s independent film, Red Hook Summer. Like William Ivey Long, Sosa is a devoted follower of couturier Charles James; Sosa also calls The Wiz director and costume designer Geoffrey Holder a mentor and credits Holder with teaching him the practical art of designing.
“I learned the practical art of design from Geoffrey, I learned how to speak actor from Geoffrey. Fast forward 30 years and it was refined now with my relationship with William Ivey Long. Those are my bookends as far as how I came into this business,” said Sosa in an interview earlier this year.
Sosa has designed costumes for Broadway productions of Top Dog Underdog (2002), Porgy and Bess (2012), Motown the Musical (2013), and, most recently, On Your Feet: the Emilio and Gloria Estefan Story (2015), currently on its national tour which included a stop in Charlotte this fall. He received a Tony Award nomination for his work on Porgy and Bess.
And following his record on Project Runway, Sosa hasn’t always been a runner-up. In designing the costumes for the Off-Broadway production of By the Way, Meet Vera Stark (2012), Sosa won a Lucille Lortel Award, awards which recognize excellence in New York Off-Broadway theatre. The second-place finisher that year? None other than William Ivey Long.