(Left to right) Isabella Chavez wearing Max Mara skirt and heels, Coach hat, Zero + Maria Cornejo coat; Yasnai Cajete Lopez wearing Dries Van Noten coat, Max Mara heels, Coach hat; Yanaisi Gordon wearing Max Mara coat, turtleneck and heels, Coach hat.

La Familia Urquiaga in Fashion

For stylist Jimi Urquiaga, the seasons come and go, but family is always on trend.

New York City fashion stylist and Las Vegas native Jimi Urquiaga has worked with celebrities such as Usher and Scott Eastwood, not to mention many fashion brands, but conceptualizing a hometown shoot with his entire family has been the most fulfilling project he has done to date.

“I wanted to showcase that this is beautiful, not just models in fashion,” Urquiaga says. “Stories with a little more substance, that go a little deeper than just, ‘This is Prada or Gucci.’ Hopefully, it also touches people because it’s a tribute to my grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s.”

Urquiaga conceptualized La Familia Urquiaga this past summer while discussing an upcoming fashion editorial with Hunger magazine.

“[The magazine] wanted me to shoot a certain type of editorial and I wasn’t really connecting with it,” he explains. “We got together, had a couple of drinks, and [the editor] said, ‘Well, what do you want to shoot?’ I went into detail about what my inspiration is, which mainly comes from my grandparents and my family, how I was raised with my [Cuban] heritage and culture, and, in general, what my family [is] like. She said, ‘OK, let’s shoot your entire family.’”

Urquiaga’s clan came to Las Vegas from Cuba in 1979. Getting out of Cuba at that time was very difficult, and their journey to the United States was filled with horrific experiences that have been described to Urquiaga over the years. The stylist marvels at the courage and tenacity it took for his elders to create a better life in Las Vegas.

“The piece is also a time capsule for my family to show generations to come, and my own kids—these are the kinds of women who they came from,” he says. “When you think things might be too tough or you think you can’t do it, these people conquered the impossible and came from a troubled country to a new country without even knowing the language and gave us every opportunity. I thought I was rich growing up because I was raised in abundance, but my grandparents broke their backs working multiple jobs with no days off. And at the end of the day, they found time to celebrate, take us on vacations and buy us presents for Christmas.”

The series also serves as a tribute to Urquiaga’s hometown and was shot guerrilla-style by photographer Alexander Saladrigas in August. The piece can be viewed in full in the November issue of Hunger magazine. It opens and closes with Urquiaga’s written tribute to his whole family and to his grandmother Sonia, as she continues to live with the memory loss that comes with Alzheimer’s.

“It’s a touchy subject, and I don’t think people know how to talk about it because it’s so nasty,” Urquiaga says. “It just takes over an individual you’ve known for your entire life and you lose them.”

Urquiaga family and friends
Wearing their own fashion.

“I knew I wanted to do a picture like this of my family, even before this came about. But this was the first shot that came to mind. It’s all about color blocking. My great-grandmothers are wearing bright red, showcasing that they are the matriarchs. Then all the [other] women in the family are in white—[these] women fight for the family spiritually and emotionally, so white is to show purity. All the men in the family are in black, which symbolizes bodyguards—they protect the family with strength and brute force. And all the friends are in different shades of tan to match their skin, because they are the family you choose.”

Encarnacion Corzo, great-grandmother
Miu Miu coat, Issey Miyaki coat, Kenzo purse

“She has her Cuban spice, so don’t piss her off, but she’s a lot more reserved and calm. She’s the polar opposite from my other great-grandmother [Olga].”

Olga Dematias, great-grandmother
Miu Miu coat and skirt, Kenzo purse

“This captures her personality perfectly. She is supercrazy and has no filter and says whatever she wants.”

Angela Urquiaga, aunt
Mulberry dress and shoes

“When we hang out, it’s like [being] with one of my friends. We wanted to have very powerful imagery so when I went location scouting, this [site] was perfect because of those lines, and the tones blended well with the Mulberry dress she is wearing.”

(Left to right)
Neven Chavez, cousin
Guess Jeans and Kenzo pants, wearing his own belt and shoes

Gianni Urquiaga, brother
Guess Jeans, Kenzo jacket, wearing his own belt and shoes

Derek Chavez, cousin
Wearing his own jeans and shoes

Isaac Urquiaga, brother
Guess Jeans, Kenzo pants and jacket, wearing his own belt and shoes

“This is one of my favorites. They weren’t even trying. We shot in five minutes because we didn’t want to get kicked out.”

Yanaisi Gordon, cousin
Max Mara coat, turtleneck and heels, Coach hat

Yasnai Cajete Lopez, sister
Dries Van Noten coat, Max Mara heels, Coach hat

Isabella Chavez, cousin
Max Mara skirt and heels, Coach hat, Zero + Maria Cornejo coat

“Those outfits are a reference to my great, great-grandmother, who passed away. I found this picture of her that was so cool. She was just wearing this superbig fur coat and not even looking at the camera. I said, ‘This is how we need to dress the girls.’”

Enrique Urquiaga, grandfather
Max Mara cape, wearing his own shirt, necklace, pants and shoes

Sonia Urquiaga, grandmother
Bally top and skirt, wearing her own shoes

“This photo is very personal, especially since the 1 October shooting in Vegas. The reason I placed my grandmother and my grandfather there is because they were the pioneers who brought our family over here. ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ meant welcoming our family to Las Vegas.”