The very first thing Emilio Sosa designed was a blouse for his mother.
I was about 15 when I went to a fabric store, searched through the scraps, and picked out a charmeuse polyester fabric. Then I gave my sketch to my aunt who sewed the blouse for me. To this day, I don’t know if the blouse has survived, but I think the little bow tie that came with it is still there somewhere.
Sosas’ fondness for design began when he was a young boy. Born in the Dominican Republic, Sosa moved to New York City with his family when he was just three years old.
Today I consider myself to be an artist and an artist does a lot of different things, Sosa explains. At first I started out as a young boy just drawing, then the drawings turned into fashion. And by the time I went to art and design high school, it was totally fashion that I wanted to do.
I had a third-grade teacher who showed me how to use art as a way to express myself, Sosa continues, and I got into the water like a fish. Fortunately, it opened up a whole new world to me.
Eventually, this new world led him to study fashion design at the Pratt Institute in New York and make a stint at Grace Costumes, quickly becoming its Creative Director in 2009.
I wanted to get into designing women’s clothing, but I needed a job, Sosa recalls. They took me on sight, and I haven’t left the theater or the entertainment industry since. I attribute a lot of what I do as a fashion designer to this position because, after all, designing costumes is just designing fashions from another era.
On Wednesday April 7 at 6:30 p.m., the American Theater (ART) at Harvard University and the Museum of the American Revolution will jointly present Deborah Sampson Unveiled: A Virtual Conversation.
On the anniversary of the wedding anniversary of Sampson, a woman who dressed up as a man in order to fight in the War of Independence, the event will feature a conversation between costume designer Sosa (upcoming production of ART in 1776, among others), and acclaimed historical fiction author Alex Myers, as well as a virtual tour of the museum’s special exhibition, When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story, 1776-1807.
Having to make a period piece takes a lot of research, Sosa volunteers. But that’s part of what I love about my job. I love to look back. I love to search. I love looking at old paintings and photos. Costume design involves two of my favorite pursuits: research and fashion.
Over the years, Sosa has deployed its fashions and talents in many places. For example, he has toured the world with Celine Dion, worked with The Alvin Ailey Dance Company, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, etc.
It was designed for music icons Diana Ross, Mariah Carey and Gloria Estafan.
His talent was evident in the seventh season of Project Runway and Project Runway All-Stars.
Additionally, these talents have earned Sosa numerous awards, including a 2012 Tony Award nomination, Lucille Lortell Award, LA Ovation Award, and multiple NAACP Theater Awards.
Sosa says: Designing for the theater allows me to express my art in a purer form, whereas with fashion there are a lot of things to consider when creating a collection But I love everything. I am a designer and I really love to create.
Describing himself as a great storyteller, Sosa believes clothes are the fastest, easiest way to tell a story and help people identify you.
When people come to me and tell me that the clothes I designed help them remember something from their past, it is very rewarding. It lets me know that I have done my job and what makes me most happy.
For more information and to get free tickets for this event, visit, AmRevMuseum.org