Silvia Ferrusquia, owner of Latin Bridal. Photo by Anna-Luisa Brakman.

Nestled between 22nd and 23rd streets on Mission Street, Latin Bridal is a glamorous haven for opulent formalwear. Silvia Ferrusquia has owned and operated this Mission staple for 32 years.

The walls are lined with gold-framed portraits of smiling quinceañeras, glittering tiaras, and sparkling princess ball gowns. One such portrait is of a girl whose boyfriend recently proposed to her at the prom. Ferrusquia dressed her for her first through sixth birthdays, as well as her baptism, communion, and even her mother’s baby shower. “It’s very satisfying,” she says. Ferrusquia has dressed countless San Franciscans from their baptisms through their high school graduations.

Originally from Toluca, Mexico, Ferrusquia has lived in San Francisco for 32 years. Her mother was a dressmaker and taught her how to sew, so she was naturally drawn to the industry.

Ferrusquia says that 99 percent of her work is understanding the personalities of the people she dresses. With over three decades of experience, she has a dress in mind as soon as a woman walks through the door.

Latin Bridal on Mission Street. Photo by Anna-Luisa Brakman.

I’m beginning to feel like I missed out by not having a quinceañera of my own, but Ferrusquia reassures me it’s not too late. I wouldn’t be the oldest of her customers. She says that she once dressed a woman in her 90s for her quinceañera. Ferrusquia herself never had a quince.

Much to my surprise, she picks out a bright pink princess dress for me, complete with dazzling sequin appliqués and ballooned sleeves, telling me it “matches my personality.”

I’m curious whether she sees any differences in the celebration of quinceañeras between Latin America and the United States. She smiles. “Not really, the tradition is the same. But maybe in the U.S., it’s more … more over the top.”

She elaborates on one difference in the quinceañera tradition, relating to the última muñeca or “last doll.” Typically, the quinceañera gives away a prized doll, or toy, to a younger girl, signifying her maturity and lack of need for the toy as an adult. But Ferrusquia has noticed a trend: American girls tend to keep the doll for themselves. “It’s more me, me, me.”

One such última muñeca toy, traditionally passed on to younger generations. Photo by Anna-Luisa Brakman.

Latin Bridal shut down during the pandemic, but now business is busy as ever. “The city has changed a lot. A lot. Back in the ’ 90s, this neighborhood was very family-oriented. But everybody left.”

I ask about Ferrusquia’s vision for the future of Mission, and the city more broadly. She’s not entirely optimistic. “It’s so expensive, it’s very expensive just surviving. I hope we see more families move back.”

I wonder how many quinceañeras she has done — or how many she thinks she gets in a year. Hundreds? Thousands?

Rookie numbers. “Oh, I can’t even count.” 

After 32 years in the Mission District, Latin Bridal has been honored with a Legacy Business award by the City of San Francisco. I ask if she gets to wear one of her dresses for the occasion.

She smiles. “I can’t imagine not wearing my own.”

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