In her 23 years, Selena Quintanilla made music history with hits like “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” and “Como la Flor.” But the Tejano music star’s lasting legacy reaches far beyond the music. Quintanilla, a cultural icon, also remains a sartorial inspiration to millions of women who continue to draw inspiration from her bright and bold ’90s-era costumes.
Dubbed the “Mexican Madonna” and “Queen of Tejano Music,” Quintanilla was known for amping up her already electric stage performances with scintillating outfits. Think: brightly bedazzled bralettes. Silvery bolero jackets. Whimsical high-waisted bell-bottoms. Fringe-draped cowboy boots. Oversize Western belts—an homage to her Texas roots.
Today, her signature style dots Instagram feeds and runways, with designers channeling her flair for fringe and big shoulders during fall’s fashion week.
Some of Quintanilla’s most iconic looks have also been rediscovered through Netflix’s Selena: The Series, which honors the life of the late singer, played by Christian Serratos. In one scene, we see Quintanilla’s iconic white rhinestone bustier. In other, her all-black ensemble takes center stage at the 1986 Tejano Music Awards. Below, the show’s costume designer Adela Cortázar discusses recreating her favorite looks for the show.
Belle of the Disco Ball
Cortázar’s design inspiration came from studying Selena’s evolving style throughout her career. This outfit is based on an early gig with her band, the Dinos. “A fashion icon of her time, she was immortalized for her sexy bras, stones, glitters, big hoop earrings, and red lips,” Cortázar says.
Bidi Bidi Bustier
“This is one of my favorite outfits,” Cortázar says. “It’s very feminine and super sexy. Many actresses, models, singers, designers, runway shows, and editorials have [imitated similar] high-waist trousers and brassiers. It’s interesting how almost 30 years later, that still reminds you of Selena.”
Tejano Music Star
“This particular piece wasn’t easy to put together,” Cortázar says. “The only video [from this event] we could get had a very low resolution, opening the door for imagination. Is it plastic? Is it fabric? Is it leather? Is it a trouser? A skirt? A corset? Two skirts? A dress? They were enigmas to be solved. When we sketched the garment it looked weird. Then, I woke up one morning and screamed, ‘Of course, it’s like Catwoman!’ I really love the result.”
Brush Your Shoulder Pads Off
“This is how teen Selena y Los Dinos looked,” Cortázar explains. “They started their group when they were kids, and used everyday clothes for their gigs. In the ’80s, every band member [had outfits]. They were very colorful, gold and silver, and always with sequins.”
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