Local Designer Gustavo Alonso Wins Diet Coke Young Designer Challenge

We can't think of a beverage that screams "fashion" more than a Diet Coke. Fashion means skinny, and a Diet Coke is the alternative to a well-balanced breakfast of skinny fashion bitches everywhere.

Just in time for all the New York Fashion Week fuss, Diet Coke cans underwent a makeover, and now feature a cropped logo design that mimics the modern, minimalist looks of today. In celebration of the can's redesign, Diet Coke launched the Diet Coke Young Designer Challenge in alliance with the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). The design contest invited fashion design students across the nation to submit a T-shirt design inspired by Diet Coke's revamped look.

Some of the biggest names in fashion, including Zac Posen, Cynthia Rowley, and L'Wren Scott, selected the winning design from a pool of 10 designer hopefuls. Miami's very own Gustavo Alonso was the winner of the challenge. The up-and-coming designer, a student at Miami International University of Art & Design, edged out the competition with his voguish take on the new Diet Coke logo that features a mysterious woman in a chic red coat and stilettos. In addition to a well-earned career boost, Alonso also received a prize of a $10,000 scholarship and a trip to New York City to meet with Posen, Rowley, and Scott. You can snag one of the T-shirt's at select Target stores nationwide.

We caught up with Alonso to talk about his inspiration, and how soon we can expect to see his designs at New York Fashion Week.

New Times: How did you first get into fashion?
Gustavo Alonso: I got into fashion a couple of years ago after serving four years in the military. When I got out I thought I'd give design school a shot and see what was out there. I mean, I've always loved clothes, which is something that everyone says, but I really do love fashion. I had such a passion for it, that once I stared school, I knew it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

How did you hear about the Diet Coke Challenge, and what made you get involved?
I'm the type of person that gets involved in every single competition that my school presents. And that's how I heard about it. At the time, I thought it was such a great opportunity to be a part of something so big and I decided to enter, and well, here I am!

Love the design. What inspired it?
Oh, thank you! My design was basically inspired by a femme fatale -- that's why her face is covered, because I wanted every woman out there to represent themselves as that girl. The Diet Coke girl has the colors and she's just really thirsty for adventure. She wants to get ahead in life, that's why you see her stepping out and all the bubbles are sort of like moving forward.

What was the T-shirt design process like for you?
It was really exciting. I had a Diet Coke while I was designing it. I just had to! I get inspired, by studying things in pieces. It's why the design has the colors of the Diet Coke and the lightness of the beverage was also inspiring. I just went with it, and that's how the girl with the read coat came about.

What's the best part of the prize for you? The money, right?
Well, aside from the scholarship I got to go to New York. I went to the Glamour Live party at The Box that was presented by Diet Coke and Glamour magazine. At the party, I got to meet the judges, a lot of people from the CFDA, and The Target team, which were really excited about the design. I also met the Diet Coke team. I met so many great people that night, that to me, that was the best prize of them all.

Also, the fact that my t-shirt is being sold at Target is such a wonderful thing to me. To represent such a powerful company and Diet Coke, I couldn't ask for anything better.

When can we expect to see a Gustavo Alonso runway presentation at New York Fashion Week?
Well, I'm currently enrolled at Miami International University. I graduate January 2013 and we'll have a fashion show at my school. Once I graduate, my goal is to get a job out there in the industry and hopefully with a great designer so I can get some experience. Then, my fashion show can definitely be at Fashion Week. That would definitely be another dream come true.

What fashion designers are you most inspired by?
I look at every designer out there as inspiring. I like to learn their techniques and I study them really well and that helps me in my designs. I look to art a lot and history--I love history so much. So I don't really have a preference in designers. I like to see the work of every single designer that's out there, pick the things from them that I like the most, and try to incorporate that into my designs. But I reinterpret them, that way I can be one of them as well.

Describe your style in three words.
Comfortable. Glamorous. Classic. Obviously with a modern twist because fashion has to evolve.

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