To commemorate World AIDS Day on December 1, we spoke with fashion designer Cesar Galindo. Cesar was on Bravo’s “The Fashion Show” and also designed Gwen Stefani’s L.A.M.B. collection. More importantly, he designed several red dresses to be auctioned off for an AIDS charity in his hometown of Houston, Texas. He talks with us about how AIDS has affected him personally, but also how it’s provided him with a positive outlook on life. In a separate video, he talks about his inspiration and personal connection to the dresses. Continue Reading to watch both videos.
My name is Cesar Galindo, I was born in Houston, Texas, and I currently live in New York City. I’m actually co-chair for World AIDS Day in Houston, Texas this year, and I designed seventeen original gowns, all in red, and they’re all going to be auctioned off during the luncheon, which I’m really excited about.
When I was really young in Texas I remember talking to my mother about this and telling her that I’ve lost over a hundred people, and I was a teenager. And she didn’t understand it, she couldn’t wrap her head around it. She didn’t know what was going on, and honestly, I didn’t know either. But I do remember being in people’s hospital rooms, and these were like my gay mothers and fathers telling me that I needed to live life to its fullest and live life for them because they aren’t going to live any longer. And they were just basically experiments of medications that were just killing them. And I grew up with that at a really young age, and I saw that in front of me. It really opened my eyes to the reality of life, as far as how precious it is, and how much you can miss somebody, how much you can miss a community. I mean, there’s a whole gay community that’s missing. Are we supposed to experience that much death at a young age? I didn’t think we should’ve, but I didn’t have any choices. That was the path that we were existing with.
I moved to New York City twenty-two years ago with my partner, Brian Nelson. We were together for eleven years, and he was diagnosed with HIV, and it became full-blown AIDS, and at that time it was a whole different era. This was at a time before the meds came into play, and we weren’t so educated or aware, or maybe we were just in denial about the situation. I knew that Brian was sick, but you know, of course we were hoping that he was gonna get better. We didn’t know what it was; we actually had a diagnosis that there something was wrong with his spine, that there was something wrong with his lower back, so we kind of dealt with it that way. Chiropractor, everything else you could imagine, besides going to a real doctor. Not that chiropractors aren’t real doctors, because I have full respect for them, but we didn’t expand upon thoughts of it being something else.
I went to Vegas for Market and then I got the call, my friend said, “We had to take Brian to the hospital, you need to come home now,” and that was like, okay, I needed to go home. And of course, finding out that it’s berkus lymphoma, and then realizing after the fact–well, during the situation–that it was HIV, and his situation was pretty rapid, and in an advanced stage that his diagnosis was death. So it’s like, we tried the best we could, and you embrace it. You play all the best music that they love for them, and you dance for them, and you act silly for them because you just want to make a smile on their face. It’s a very special time when you realize how bonded you are with somebody that you love. It doesn’t even have to be a partner. It could be your loved ones like your mother, your father, sister, brother. When someone can’t talk to you because they have everything put in their mouth, and they’re looking at you and all you’re doing is dancing around to make them like, roll their eyes and kind of like put a grin on their face, it’s the simplest things probably one can do. I did it, and that sounds kind of crazy, I never actually really admitted that so many times, but I did do it. It’s the simplest form of communication sometimes, body dialogue, you know? You walk into the room as happy as you can be, it’s a bitter sweet moment.