Las Vegas designer explains how she overcame immigration obstacles to launch career

Get fashion designer Ermelinda Manos talking about her passion and it starts to sound like she’s making magic.

“I never questioned it, I never doubted, I know it’s what I’m always going to do. When I start designing, even when I look at a piece of fabric, I just, I’m in love. I could be locked up in a room and just design. I have thousands of ideas and I can’t even explain it,” she says.

Those ideas mostly manifest in the form of evening and bridal wear with tulle, feathers, sheer lace and lots of sparkles. They’re staples she’s crafted a fashion career from in a city that’s not exactly known for its fashion scene or culture.

In a book released this fall, “Lost in Las Vegas,” Manos reflects on the beginning of her career and pays tribute to the city that became home for her when she immigrated from Greece at age 12.

Manos paired a selection of her designs with various locations of historic or cultural significance around the city: a tulle skirt and vintage U.S. military parachute with a barren desert landscape in reference to Miss Atomic Bomb, a black sequined evening gown and black lace gloves outside the Mob Museum. With photographs at the Fremont Street Experience, Las Vegas Academy, El Cortez, the Plaza and Binion’s, the book features downtown heavily. Throughout the book, she chronicles Las Vegas’ growth.

Now 30, her own Las Vegas story began when, at age 12, she moved with her family into Circus Circus on the Strip, “where the cigarette odor of the casino carpet and slot machine sounds felt oddly comforting and all of my friendships with other kids lasted only a few days or the lengths of their family’s vacation,” she writes in her book. Her family lived there for about three months before moving to Summerlin, where she attended Becker Middle School and then Cimarron-Memorial High School.

Though her family immigrated legally, when Albanian-born Manos underwent the court process to become a U.S. citizen with her mother, both had their legal status revoked, making them undocumented. Manos’ status was tied to her mother’s because she was a minor. Manos was 17 when the court’s decision came down, and suddenly ineligible for college scholarships.

“It pushed me back so much, because I couldn’t go after my dreams the same way my friends could,” Manos says.

She attended the International Academy of Design and Technology in Henderson nonetheless, where she brought the timeless, glittering creations off the paper and onto the runways. Upon graduation in 2009, it was easier, she found, to start her own business as an undocumented immigrant than to secure a job at an existing company.

The immigration battle has been a constant in her life since those first days at Circus Circus. Over the years, she watched Congress fail to pass the DREAM Act, a bill first proposed in 2001 to give undocumented high school graduates a pathway to legal status.

Once President Obama approved the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy in 2012, Manos worked with Nevada Congresswoman Dina Titus to regain legal residency, though she is still in the process of securing citizenship. Her immigration status forced her to aggressively pursue her dreams.

“In a way, that kind of helped us connect as well because I was also an immigrant as well when I was young. I came to this country very young, just like her. It was a struggle to go through the right channels to become a proper citizen,” says Winnie Shao, owner of the manufacturing company LV Apparel Development. Manos helped Shao break into the fashion industry when she graduated from the International Academy of Design and Technology in 2012, and they’ve since collaborated on various projects, with Manos designing and Shao handling the more technical aspects of creating clothing.

Manos’ first clothing line debuted at LA Fashion Week in 2009. “Lost in Las Vegas” includes designs from the years since then. In the next year, she’ll release another line and has plans to sell her designs in brick-and-mortar stores.

“Both of us are really hoping on building the fashion community here in Las Vegas,” Shao says. Both place a high priority on creating opportunities and jobs in the city.

In one of the final images in the book, the model poses in a bright blue mini dress and red pumps in front of the “Viva Lost Vegas” mural just off Fremont Street.

“I wanted to do that, to dedicate (the book) to (young immigrants), that they don’t have to be afraid or ashamed of anything, they can always look at this book and feel encouraged,” Manos says. “And not just for immigrants, but for anybody who’s ever felt lost or had any battle in their life.”

Read more from Sarah Corsa at reviewjournal.com. Contact her at scorsa@reviewjournal.com and follow @sarahcorsa on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Life
Barber sets up shop in grandfather’s old shop
Andres Dominguez’s new barber shop is filled with memories of his grandfather, who ran the El Cortez landmark for more than 30 years. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Life and times of a 90-year-old horse player
Leo Polito of Las Vegas describes meeting legendary jockey and trainer Johnny Longden on the beach at Del Mar. Mike Brunker/Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Learning the history of singing bowls
Presentation at Summerlin Library teaches residents about the history of singing bowls (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learning live-saving techniques in Stop the Bleed class
Leslie Shaffer, an AMR paramedic, shows how to control bleeding during a Stop the Bleed course at the Summerlin Library. The class is designed to teach anyone how to control and stop life-threatening bleeding. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vicki Richardson speaks about on the power of art
Artist and arts advocate Vicki Richardson talks about the power of art to inspire and challenge. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DressCoders pairs tech with haute couture
DressCoders is a startup focused on haute couture garments. The company uses illuminated thread that is washable and can be sewn right into the fabric. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Brava infrared oven
In cooking with the Brava infrared oven,there’s no preheating. the bulbs can reach 500 degrees in less than a second. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sinks Merge Style And Utility
Study could determine cause of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s diseases
Dr. Aaron Ritter, director of clinical trials at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, discusses his research on how inflammation in the brain impacts Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. (Jessie Bekker/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Holocaust survivors talk about tragedy and friendship
Janos Strauss and Alexander Kuechel share their perspectives on life. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
'Siegel Cares' Santa delivers toys to kids at Siegel Suites in Las Vegas
Siegel Cares, the charitable wing of The Siegel Group, delivered toys to families at their apartment complexes in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Revisiting “Christ the King” sculpture
A longtime admirer of the sculpture at Christ the King Catholic Community in Las Vegas shares her perspective. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye)
Henderson couple adds another school to their generosity
Bob and Sandy Ellis of Henderson, who donate to several Clark County School District schools, have added Matt Kelly Elementary in Las Vegas to their list of schools where every student gets new shoes, socks and a toy. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Terry Fator Christmas House
Arguably better than a hotel holiday display, is Terry and Angie Fator's home located in southwest Las Vegas.
UNLV Winter Graduation Packs Thomas & Mack
UNLV's 55th winter commencement ceremony included approximately 2,146 undergraduate and graduate students who recently completed their studies. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Build-A-Bear comes to Reed Elementary School
Students participated in a Build-A-Bear-Workshop at Doris Reed Elementary School in Las Vegas, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018.
Rev. Father Seraphim Ramos talks about Greek Orthodox icons during an interview with the LVRJ
Rev. Father Seraphim Ramos talks about Greek Orthodox icons during an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center art depicts names of God
Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center founder Sharaf Haseebullah talks about new diamond-shaped art panels featuring some of the 99 names of Allah at the main entrance the Las Vegas mosque. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Holiday poultry with Tim and Chemaine Jensen of Village Meat & Wine
Tim and Chemaine Jensen of Village Meat & Wine explain the different types of poultry available for the holidays. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Catholic Charities hosts early Christmas meal
Students from the Bishop Gorman High School football and cheerleader team helped to serve food at the Christmas meal sponsored by the Frank and Victoria Fertitta Foundation at Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada on Sunday. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Incarcerated Christmas
This is the fourth year HOPE for Prisoners has worked with the Nevada Department of Corrections to create a Christmas for prisoners to visit their families. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
2018 Homeless Vigil
Straight From The Streets holds its 23rd annual vigil to remember the 179 homeless individuals who died in Clark County this year.
Getting through the Holiday blues
Psychologist Whitney Owens offers advice on keeping your mental health in check during the Holiday season in Henderson, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Operation Homefront Holiday Meals for Military
Operation Homefront Holiday Meals for Military program gave meal kits to 200 families at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10047 in Las Vegas Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. It all started with a chance encounter in a supermarket in Utica, N.Y., near Fort Drum. A soldier, his wife and infant had a handful of grocery items they couldn't afford. A Beam Suntory employee picked up the $12 cost for the groceries. The program has grown from providing 500 meal kits to military families in 2009 to providing more than 7,000 nationally this holiday season.K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto
An elegant Tea Party for substance abuse and homeless women
An elegant Tea Party for substance abuse and homeless women at WestCare Women Children Campus in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Former 51s manager Wally Backman chats about new job
Former Las Vegas 51s manager Wally Backman talks about his new job with the independent league Long Island Ducks during the Baseball Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Dec. 10, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside the kitchen at Springs Preserve
The staff of Divine Events do party preparation in the kitchen at Divine Cafe at Springs Preserve. With nine parties the following day, this is a particularly busy time for the crew. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pearl Harbor survivor Edward Hall talks about his memories of Dec. 7, 1941
U.S. Army Corps Edward Hall, a 95-year-old survivor of Pearl Harbor talks about his memories of that horrific day. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Roy Choi on cooking for Park MGM employees
As he prepares to open his new restaurant Best Friend later this month at Park MGM, celebrity chef Roy Choi took the time to cook for the resort’s employees Tuesday. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like