Sergio Guadarrama Has A Sense for Fashion and the Soccer Field

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Sergio Guadarrama, 31, is competing in soccer this week in the Gay Games in Cleveland. He is one of 18 Austinites and 98 Texans competing in 36 sports at one of the world’s biggest gay sports competitions.

Guadarrama, a Cedar Park native, is playing with the New York Ramblers, with whom he began playing eight years ago while studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and beginning his fashion line, Celestino. He returned to Austin last year. Guadarrama also has an image consulting business.

Sergio playing soccer copyThis is your second Gay Games. Tell us about your first experience in Sydney in 2002, what you expect out of this one, and your motivation for participating in the event.
I had just graduated from high school and was [starting] in college in Los Angeles. That was my first experience learning about gay soccer teams. I was pretty surprised because I actually didn’t even know one gay person, anywhere, when I moved to Los Angeles.

I competed with the LA team [LA Suns], and I also did the 100-meter dash. We ended up getting fourth place, and I got fifth place in the 100-meter dash. I was pretty excited about that.

After that I just got very busy developing my line, and [soccer] just didn’t quite fit with my scheduling and budget. Those trips can get a little expensive. Now my life is balanced and settled, and I wanted to give the next one a shot.

What was it like growing up in a household where your dad played professionally and your two brothers eventually played for pro soccer teams? Was there any doubt you’d play soccer, too?
That’s what my dad wanted. I’m the oldest, so he probably put the most pressure on me to do that, but I knew that I had a different calling in life. My main passion is designing. But I’m glad he pushed me into it. I love the sport. I love it even more now than when I was growing up, because I didn’t have too much of a choice about it then.

You play on four soccer teams in Austin, including a gay team, the Austin Goldstars. You must have played a lot growing up.
My dad had a soccer ball at my feet when I still was in diapers, learning how to walk. He had us training pretty much every single day. We would train in the morning. Then we would go to school and train with the school team, and then my mom would drive us to our club team. It was pretty much all about soccer.

How did your passion for fashion design develop despite all of those hours on the soccer field?
Any little time I had, I would always be sketching and attempting to sew. I would take my grandmother’s old lacy underwear that she would use to clean and stuff, cut them up, and make little dresses for my cousins’ dolls. It was innate, because no one in my family sews.

Photography by Michael Thad Carter

Photography by Michael Thad Carter

I’m guessing there aren’t many gay, soccer-playing fashion designers out there.
[Pause] I’m probably the only one on the planet. [Laughs] And I’m probably the most aggressive person out there. Usually when people find out, “Oh, this dude’s a fashion designer,” they’re like, “What?!”

Do your teammates look to you for uniform designs or fashion sense?
I get a thousand text messages a day about what people should wear. Guys on the straight team are always asking if I can design their girlfriend’s or fiancé’s wedding gowns.

You established your label, Celestino, in 2006, and have said your father’s career as an architect has influenced your designs. How is that?
When I was little, he showed me how to paint, and he showed me proportion and perspective and all of those things, so he did help me develop a creative side. I would look at all of his plans from his buildings. I just loved the perfect lines.

Do you still paint with all of your other commitments?
I don’t have time anymore. I put 1,000 percent into whatever I do, so I have to [limit] the things I focus on. Designing is how I express myself, my creative freedom. Soccer is the stress reliever. It’s a creative sport, but you also get to knock people around a little bit to get some stress out.

Sergio gownWalk us through the design of a collection, from inspiration to runway.
One of the first things I do is go shopping in New York for textiles, because I like to feel and touch what I’m going to create with. Then I spread them all over the apartment to see how they work with each other, and just start sketching and developing silhouettes that are flattering and inspiring to women. Then I fuse that all into what I feel is an ideal. I do about 25 looks a season.

You’ve said your family encouraged you to express yourself and find what makes you happy. Did that include your sexual orientation?
I came out to them when I was 21, first to my mother. She thought she’d done something wrong. I was like, “No, I’ve been like this since I was little.” My father accepts it, he just doesn’t quite understand it. My brothers and sisters are completely fine with it. They love it.

As long as you tell them what to wear, right?
Exactly! I’m designing my little sister’s wedding dress at the moment.

Guadarrama’s made-to-measure designs are sold through his website (celestinocouture.com) and at Julian Gold, 214 W. 6th St .

Interview by Jana Hunter. 

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