Puerto Rico is known for beautiful beaches, cool drinks poolside, a colourful nightlife scene and an infectious Latin vibe. Now, not only a hotspot for a fabulous sunny destination vacation, Puerto Rico is an up and coming fashion hub for the chic set and hipsters alike. Puerto Rico High Fashion Week for Fall/Winter 2008 showcased some of the best talent from the bustling island including a slew of key designers to watch and already established Puerto Rican designers who all showed incredible and fresh talent. Here’s a look at some of the hottest looks that hit the runway.

Stella Nolasco

Nolasco (who has dressed the likes of Beyonce and hip Puerto Rican celebrities) gave a rocking first show with bold prints and a heavy Japanese influence. Her frilly and girly sensibility came through in every piece of her "Oki ni iri" or "My Favourite One" titled collection that strutting models wore down the runway. From layers of purple chantillie lace and tulle on a stunning a dress, to turquoise and orange hued prints, to incredible hand died fringes and crochette on each piece it was very clear that Nolasco was one of the best up-and-coming designers of the week. She topped off her funky feminine looks with super chic jeweled headbands by Erika Pena, a jewelry designer based in Puerto Rico, who also sells her pretty stoned pieces in Canada.

, www.erikapena.com

Sister designers Norein and Michelle Otero have been designing clothing since they were 15-years-old, and based on their designs showed at Puerto Rico Fashion Week, they show no signs of slowing down. The chic and stylish duo brought a little taste of Tokyo to Puerto Rico with a bright palette of colours, futuristic touches of silver in zippers and shoulder pads to create a sense of Tokyo’s architecturally impressive skyline. Most stunning were the origami-influenced details on evening dresses. Folded two-toned pleats in bright teals, deep plums and red oranges on silk charmuese and silk jersey dresses brought the art of folding paper to a whole new, fashionable light. Tops in bright hues and cut to show sexy curves rounded out the collection with a young, funky vibe. These are two sisters that are ones to watch.


Sonia Santiago, Santiago Couture
To set the stage for Santiago’s 1930s and 1940s inspired collection the show kicked off with a steamy Tango number on the runway and the sexiness played through the rest of the show with glamorous gowns and elegant pieces that took you back in time. The stunners of the show were the pink-gold, yellow-gold and white-gold evening gowns in silk chiffons and charmeuses with metallic finish and silk organza that shimmered and floated with every step the models took. Adding in silk taffettas for well-constructed skirts and nipped in waists, chantillie lace and wool gabardine in teals, deep reds and blacks, finished off the looks for Santiago’s fall collection.


Custo Barcelona

Known for his bold graphic prints and equally bright and enticing colour choices, Barcelona did not disappoint at Puerto Rico High Fashion Week. One of the few non-Puerto Rican designers to show, Barcelona’s runway looks drew in one of the largest crowds for the week. The theme for Barcelona’s fall look is classic meets experimental. He achieved this look by taking classic materials and cuts, then adding his own twists of graphic colour, and adding futuristic looks to fabrics by mixing Alpaca and Mohair wools, leathers and silks to create a dual effect. The must-have from Barcelona’s hip collection — a Mohair wool coat with splashes of vibrant hues woven throughout the fabric.


Luis Antonio
Antonio’s collection showed that he is ready to take on the rest of the fashion world outside of Puerto Rico. His elegant and sexy, well-cut dresses, blouses and skirts in jerseys and silks played with every curve on the models. Antonio’s creations ranged in colour from deep and sultry navy, to burnt orange and black combined in graphic prints, and vibrant green sequined numbers that drew applause along with "oohs and ahhs" from the crowd. The look we want to add to our closet this fall? The orange, black and white graphic pleated skirt, with a stretchy black turtleneck and black tights.

Learn more about Puerto Rico High Fashion Week by visiting www.prhighfashionweek.com