April 27, 2024

She's a designer sharing this moment, a diosa in her own right. Un Espíritu libre.

Behind the scenes of a photoshoot, two women in cropped velvet bustiers and matching skirts that skim their ankles emerge from a private dressing room. A veil cut the accompanying fabric billows from the crown of their heads, obscuring all but the front of their hair. Thick gold chains, heavy with the weight of gaudy jewels adorning them, hang from the top of their glittering bodices.

The models receive the royal treatment — their bodies are ornamented from temple to toe in full Diosa sets, just launched on the brand-new Espíritu Libre website. The usual pre-shoot buzz that fills the room as photographers rush to make last-minute adjustments is silenced as the models step in front of the backdrop.

Daizy Lopez — the designer behind the pieces — is the last to step forward, a bashful smile on her face as she adjusts her red lace veil.

No one in the room can take their eyes off of the three of them. It’s mesmerizing.

As a camera flashes, Daizy fixes a bobby pin on the head of the model closest to her, ensuring the velvet veil stays put atop her dark hair. The interaction is second nature to her, and she steps back as someone takes a picture of the moment. The camera’s flash lights up the smile on her face — now proud, unabashed. The women flanked on either side of her mirror the same expression.

It’s illuminated then — the look on her face. She's a designer sharing this moment, a diosa in her own right. Un Espíritu libre.

Daizy Lopez is a free spirit — un Espíritu libre.

She’d be the first to tell you that, and her Instagram handle (one that hasn’t changed since she was in high school) would corroborate it. So when it came to selecting a name for her fashion label, it all fell together quite naturally for the Austin-based self-taught designer.

“I’ve always been a free spirit … very spontaneous and whimsical with life and what it throws at me,” Daizy recounts. “It was very fitting to make [the brand name] ‘free spirit’ in Spanish, paying homage to my Mexican roots.”

She knew that, in designing her pieces, she wanted to be able to pass some of that energy onto those around her. As someone who was naturally energetic and rebellious, she could never hope to contain her own creative energy, and she in some ways was only ever destined to pass it on, giving parts of it away to others — those who may need it.

But before Espíritu Libre, before the glamor of runway shows and Austin Fashion Week, Daizy was just a little girl. She vividly recalls being in elementary school, constantly cutting up clothes, upcycling them into a mismatched amalgamation of the pieces they once were.

“I was always wanting to do something bigger, always wanting to have a voice, always a rebel, just not conforming,” Daizy explains. From her earliest days, the family and friends surrounding her knew she was destined to chart her own course in life, to carve out a place in this world entirely unique to her.

As she grew into that very niche in the fashion and entertainment industry, the creation of her brand evolved as an extension of her career as a stylist. She had been styling for TV shows and short films, a gig that eventually developed into her making pieces for her to style. Entirely self-taught and validated by the overwhelming approval of her fellow creatives, Daizy began putting pieces together using inspirations and materials based on the community around her.

Just like that, Espíritu Libre was born — and Daizy began the journey of building a brand from the ground up.

“I need to have some girls wear this out and look cute, it's just sitting here,” she remembers musing to herself after designing a few pieces to style on set. That’s how she thinks — endlessly oriented towards her craft and those who wear it.

But Espíritu Libre has become so much more than some girls having fun and looking cute — though, at its core, it still is. With the inspiration of Austin’s vibrant Latino community and her own ingenuity, Daizy built a brand like no other, interweaving contemporary elements of Latino culture and sensual silhouettes to embody the free spirit that Daizy herself wants to share with the world.

The pieces themselves are the most breathtaking elements of the brand. The union of figure-hugging velvet silhouettes and brilliant gold hardware are unparalleled in the fashion scene as we know it, and Daizy says she has her heritage to thank.

“[The designs] are very much me, too, not only taking from Mexican culture, but also my identity,” posits the designer. “I love color, and I love gold. It’s very much a blend of who I am and what I wear on a daily basis and, subconsciously, the things prominent in the Mexican community and culture.”

The love and dedication that Daizy puts towards all of her pieces, models, and all those involved in the creative process manifest themselves at the forefront of every design made by Espíritu Libre. At her core, she’s still that little elementary school girl, upcycling old clothes — only this time, there’s hundreds of others like her applauding, eager to see their culture showcased like never before.

From the moment she started her brand, she knew she wanted to do things differently from the industry standard. She saw a lack of representation for people that looked like her, namely Latina women. For that reason, she exclusively uses women of color as her models. Being based in Austin, she felt particularly responsible with keeping the Tejano community alive within an industry that doesn’t make space for people like her.

Her diosas, the women who choose their bodies to be the hallowed space upon which her pieces may rest, are an extension of Daizy’s principal inspiration: her family. And their nomenclature — diosa meaning goddess in Spanish — was no haphazard coincidence.

“The pieces have this ethereal effect — it makes anyone who wears them feel this divine feminine energy,” she says. “The way it makes people feel… like this heavenly goddess, it makes them be like that person when they walk into a room.”

Pioneering this delicate foray into the uncharted waters of the fashion industry, Daizy sought guidance from her Latina roots. As the Espíritu Libre brand flourished, she found herself uniquely endowed with a newfound sense of purpose to spotlight a community that has long since been overlooked in traditional creative spaces. In their newly launched website, the site’s name dances across the top of the screen, illustrated in the style of a golden nameplate necklace, reminding any diosas thinking of purchasing their very own Espíritu Libre design of Daizy’s Mexican roots.

“Me being a Latina myself, I just wanted to be more represented,” Daizy explains her reasoning for her creative choices, distinctive in their willingness to go against the status quo. “I want to do that for my culture and my community — uplift and inspire each other.”

And uplift and inspire she certainly has. With a community of creatives supporting Espíritu Libre, Daizy has experienced immense growth in the past four years since her first runway show, in both her personal and professional life.

Her family has grown much larger since her first show — she's gotten engaged, had a baby, and spearheaded her career in fashion design. She cites her son, now a year old, as the driving force behind her brand’s recent uptick. His birth is the defining moment of that era of her life, and Daizy says he’s what pushed her to continue doing more runway shows instead of scaling it back into her comfort zone.

“Every runway show, [the baby] is there, getting ready with us, getting passed around with all the models,” Daizy reminisces. “It's a very family-oriented thing … I have a family and I have friends in a lot of them, so now it’s become a family business.”

Now, Espíritu Libre is more than a brand, more than a simple exchange between a model and a designer, or between buyer and wearer. Amidst the bustling creative energy present in Daizy’s life, her son is now an unwavering presence, seamlessly blended into her newfound role as a fashion designer and reminding her to keep her Espíritu libre alive to pass down for future generations to come. What’s more, she hopes to inspire other creators like her to take advantage of the opportunities abundant in the creative scene.

“Once you start, it’s going to be fine,” Daizy urges any young diosas eager to share their free spirits. “You’re gonna fail. There’s gonna be trials and tribulations that you go through, but that's the first step. From there, things will fall into place.”
Lopez is entirely sure of herself as she says this; she’s speaking from experience. Her brand, born from the eager buzz of untamed creative energy, is now ripe with the fruits of her labor. With each new endeavor she ventures into, Daizy finds herself guided by the same unshakeable sense of purpose. For this reason, it seems that the Espíritu Libre family will grow exponentially along with the love Daizy continues to pour into it.

Layout: Ava Jiang
Photographer: Liv Martinez
Stylist: Cynthia Lira
Set Stylists: Laurence Nguyễn-Thái & Mateo Ontiveros
HMUA: Averie Wang & Meryl Jiang
Models: Daizy López, Santini Anguiano & Pranisha Karuturi
Production: Saturn Eclair

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