Texas-based fashion designer, Rulli Torres, whose passion for The American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women mission is fueled by his personal connection to heart disease, as his mother suffered a stroke.
Torres designed breathtaking pieces for the fashion show that took place at the 2023 NWA Go Red for Women Luncheon, a fundraiser that was held in Northwest Arkansas a few weeks ago. Since 2004, the Go Red for Women movement has educated millions of women about their No. 1 killer: cardiovascular disease. Each luncheon is a unique event led by local leaders to meet the needs of that community. Featuring inspiration, education and community among women, the Go Red for Women luncheon is a powerful and moving experience.
We caught up with Torres to learn about his beautiful NWA American Heart Association Red Collection by Rulli and his strong connection to the cause.
How did you become part of the Go Red for Women event? What drew you to this organization?
I’ve always been involved in helping others since I was in elementary school in California. I remember volunteering to assist handicapped, special needs students, or other disabilities. After graduating from college, I started getting involved with various non-profits such as “Together We Rise”, DIFFA Dallas, Susan. G. Komen, ALS, American Heart Association, and I produce my own Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Fashion Show in Dallas, Texas.
My mother had a couple of strokes and a heart attack. When she had her first stroke, it really devastated me. She has always been a strong woman. I had never seen her so vulnerable and what hit me the hardest was her not recognizing me. I had to be a strong man and follow her example not to be weak. I had to hold in my tears, be strong, and I told her that she had to get up from that bed. I remember telling her clearly “You need to get up from that bed and you will be walking down the Catwalk with me at my next fashion show!” I know she heard me because she did exactly that.
I had a fashion show in Dallas. I told them the story about her stroke, she walked down the catwalk and she got a standing ovation. The story repeated itself after her second stroke and heart attack. I still don’t understand where her strength and willpower come from. She is my Iron Lady, superhero, and Wonder Woman!
Lety Vega and Viko Bellmonthe invited me to be part of Vestido Rojo, and I dedicated that show to my mother. Again, she got a standing ovation. I like to stay involved. give back, volunteer, and collaborate with nonprofits that have affected my life directly or indirectly. This year I dedicated my fashion show to my sister Sara who recently had a stroke. She was present at the show, and I told her how much I love her!
Tell me a little about your ready-to-wear Red Collection. Where did you get the inspiration?
I am infatuated with Spanish Flamenco! I get a lot of my inspiration from Flamenco Dancers and Spanish Music.
Are there any details you can share about some of the designs?
I love RED colors, ruffles, and dramatic styles on the catwalk! I like my designs to have meaning for the cause or for the survivors. I surprised a couple of survivors by designing a couple of special garments for them. A picture on the catwalk captured how they looked at each other. Moments such as those make my work, sacrifice, and design life worth every second of it.
Did it mean a lot to you to be a part of this life-saving event?
I had so much on my plate with graduate school, teaching, and designing at the same time. I hardly got any time to rest. I believe in sacrifice and hard work. It always pays off so Yes, I am beyond grateful to have been part of such a successful event!
What was it like planning a fashion show like this? It looked spectacular!
One has to be extremely organized! I had a thousand other things going on at the same time.
Zoom and cell phone Meetings were required with AHA organizers, makeup artists, and hair stylists, choosing fabrics, fabric shopping in Los Angeles, Dallas, mood boards, looking at color palettes, model casting calls, and music selection.
I love how the models wore KISS lashes? Did that all help add a little extra glam to the looks?
I had a performing group a few years back, and the first thing I would request was Lashes. I am infatuated with KISS Lashes! They sealed all of the looks on the catwalk and social media photos!