The Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts will host a fashion show with more than 75 elaborate outfits by acclaimed Salvadoran designer Mario Chacon on Saturday, March 11. The styles range from ethnic to European-influenced to Carnaval costumes.

Chacon, whose designs have graced many a San Francisco Carnaval parade, originally studied architecture in El Salvador but turned to fashion after enrolling in a design program at City College of Los Angeles. His designs have appeared at the de Young Museum and are displayed in San Salvador, most recently in the historic town of Santa Tecla.

Exhibits at the center are often not just artistic or musical, but very political in nature and coincide with national movements – this month, for example, the center will open its annual “solo mujeres” exhibit featuring exclusively women artists. The day of the inauguration, the center opened an exhibit dedicated to political dissent entitled “Exist and Resist.”

In its programming, the center strives to be inclusive of a diversity of Latino cultures.

We are a cornerstone of the identity of the Mission District. Since the moment we were founded, I think that we have opened our doors to the different Latin American communities living here in San Francisco, trying to give them a voice, trying to make their causes relevant,” said MCCLA Events Coordinator Arturo Méndez. “I think that that’s a commitment for the next 40 years: We’re looking forward to providing better spaces, better galleries, shows, everything for the community to come and to feel a part of this thing that we’re doing.”

The Cultural Center’s anniversary is officially in September, when a celebratory gala is planned, but staff have events planned throughout the year.

“You cannot celebrate 40 years in just one night. We’re going big with this one,” Méndez said.

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