New York Fashion Week was forever changed after Mexican-American designer Willy Chavarria, 56, debuted his breathtaking Spring/Summer 2024 collection on Wednesday.

Presented at New York City’s landmark Woolworth Building, a Gothic-style Tribeca skyscraper built in 1912, Chavarria’s collection is an ode to Chicano culture, workwear, roses, and his birthplace of Fresno, California.

Because our jaws are still on the floor at the designer’s intense, cinematic collection — aptly titled “New Life” — we had to find out more. Turns out, as Chavarria told WWD, he puts emotion center-stage. “It always starts in the heart, it very much does.”

“I always start out with music and feeling and books,” he explained to the outlet backstage. “The creative process evolves all the way through.”

And does it evolveHarper’s Bazaar professed that the 56-year-old designer “won” New York Fashion Week. Glimpse the flourishing, “operatic” collection here — we’re swooning:

As one X user wrote after seeing the designer’s latest work, it was an “emotional” experience for them. They added, “Loved seeing Mexican representation at Fashion Week.”

Mexican-American designer Willy Chavarria was first inspired by zoot suits in bringing politics into fashion

Chavarria was born in Fresno to a Mexican father and Irish-American mother, and as per the CFDA, grew up in the San Joaquin Valley in a tight-knit farm laborer community.

Earlier this year, Chavarria wrote an op-ed for the New York Times about his upbringing, finding inspiration in Mexican-American culture in California, and bringing politics into fashion.

“I am warm butter melting inside a flour tortilla, held over the kitchen sink on the hottest day of summer,” he reminisced. “I am tattooed with stories of my family and of Catholicism.” Even more poignant, though, he spoke about how his community shaped “his sense of self.”

“I am a direct product of the desegregation that came out of the civil rights movement, which put my Mexican father and Irish American mother in the same high school,” he wrote.

The fashion designer explained he grew up learning about civil rights leaders like Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. He also read about the 1943 Zoot Suit Riots, where servicemen attacked Mexican-Americans and other people of color in Los Angeles for wearing zoot suits.

Chavarria stated that reading this changed everything for him. “The triple pleated trousers and voluminous tailoring of zoot suits, along with their history, are what led me down my current path.”

Once he saw clothing like zoot suits could “make powerful political statements,” he never looked back.

Today, the designer tells the Los Angeles Times how his childhood taught him about hard work. “Being around working people taught me how to have a work ethic, enabling me to grow myself and my business.” He added, “When you don’t have a lot, you make the best of what you have.”

Additionally, he is still much more inspired by grit, and people on the streets, than “the fashion world.”

He told Cultured, “There’s so much inspiration on the streets. I freak out every time I leave my apartment because people are so f**king amazing.”

“I like wrinkles, and I like crooked teeth; I like the flaws that make us real,” he described, a belief that even permeates who he hires in his company. “All of the people I work with know what it’s like to have suffered, what it’s like to have been on the sh*t end of the stick.”

In his op-ed, Chavarria said that fashion is “begging” for change, and he is up for the task. “I am here to show a new type of beauty,” he wrote, and he’s firm on not “tokenizing” his identity.

“Through my lens, I am not selling culture by tokenizing the less fortunate to benefit a big brand.” He made this even he also told Los Angeles Times: “As long as we maintain that sincerity, we won’t be at risk of commercializing our culture.”

“I want to show the entire Latinidad that we’re beautiful.”

What to know about the designer’s epic Spring/Summer 2024 collection

Chavarria, who is also senior vice president of design at Calvin Klein, brings his heart and soul into every piece of his eponymous brand. And yes, his latest collection is no different. As per Harper’s Bazaar‘s report, the Spring/Summer 2024 collection really did bring “New Life” into NYFW.

As per the outlet, Chavarria’s runway was “moving,” had “charisma” and “charm,” and more than anything, “heart.”

In fact, the designer put his Mexican heritage to the forefront.

This included shirts with the words “Grupo Nueva Visión Por Vida” printed on the front, red roses, crucifix necklaces, vaquero hats with more flowers, and a soundtrack that included songs like the bolero ranchero “Si Nos Dejan.” In short, it made your heart beat faster.

Chavarria explained to Vogue backstage, “It’s a very emotional collection for me because I found that as I was doing it that it touches on all these incredible influences in fashion throughout our Latinidad.”

“Moments that are from the ’30s, from the ’40s, from the ’50s, ’60s, and also the future,” he added. Even more, his fans felt just as emotional when seeing the collection. One X user wrote it was the “best closing fashion week could ever have,” applauding the designer’s brand identity:

Another X user said they are officially “converted” after seeing the collection, and… same:

In short, it’s safe to say Willy Chavarria’s latest collection all made us “feel things”: