Words and Photos by
Annabella Mireles

As young girls, many of us may have dreamed about becoming a fashion designer. Styling up our dolls, making clothes out of toilet paper, or even secretly cutting our own clothes to try and create something new for them.  

23-year-old Alexia Maldonado, fashion designer, owner of Ifellinlovehere, and creator of Amaldeux, made that dream her reality.  

She spends her days following the ritual of waking up early to make her sacramental espresso and heads out to her eclectic vintage clothing store, ifellinlovehere, to help curate clothes for customers who have booked a spot to shop at the store, as well as freshening up the racks with new 90s/Y2K looks, coordinating with vendors for her practically monthly markets and heading to the back of her studio to check on her inventory and organizing her stock for her own brand, Amaldeux.  

Her love of fashion developed from shopping at stores like Justice with her mom as a child to becoming a fashion student.  

“It started as putting on outfits, which was something that I really enjoyed as a kid and as I got older. I feel like it was more of a way to express myself and set myself apart from others,” Maldonado said. “I knew I loved clothes and shopping with my mom, but I wanted to know how they made them, what went on in factories, and what kind of fabrics were being used.” 

Despite not having experience in sewing, Alexia enrolled in the fashion program at EPCC in 2019. 

“I really loved the program,” she said. “It’s a really great starting point for any job or career within the fashion industry because they teach you the ins and outs of retail, buying, sketching and fashion history.” 

Maldonado left EPCC with a certificate in fashion and had her own garment show at Texas International fashion Week in 2022 while simultaneously starting Amaldeux.

Amaldeux, pronounced aa-mall-doh, is a subtly self-titled brand reflecting not only Maldonado, but also the types of people she caters to.  

“A lot of people don’t realize this but it’s a kind of self-titled brand name,” she said. “I took the ‘A’ and the first four letters of my last name and turned it into Amaldeux. The -deux at the end means two in French, and like I say, I design for two types of women. A motto I use for my brand is ‘simply innocent’ because I design for the more modest, naive kind of person that doesn’t really like to put herself out there, but I also design for everyone’s alter ego, the woman that likes to show a little bit more skin. She’s very confident and not afraid of people judging her or what people will think of her. So, I kind of find the balance between the two styles and I’ll put them into one. It’s a mix of sweet and sexy.”

Maldonado titled her first collection that was released in Spring of 2024 “Dollhouse,” which reflects the collection’s sense of innocence. Maldonado not only was inspired by 60s and 70s fashion, but also the period itself for how crucial it was for women developing their own style.  

“I took a lot of references from vintage styles like the 1960s and 70s,” she said. “It was an empowering time for women to kind of experience more within fashion and feel more comfortable in their bodies and feeling more like a woman should. We shouldn’t have men belittle us, and we should just feel empowered all the time. So, I think the clothing really translates that. I took a lot of references and inspiration from the 70s, so it’s not brand new, but I think the specific styles haven’t been seen or made before.” 

Unlike fast fashion, Maldonado strives to create ready-to-wear pieces and uses high quality material to create her designs.  

“Some of the fabrics that I use are genuine leather,” she said. “I use 100% suede and cotton for the baby knit rib T-shirt. I think certain fabrics elevate the quality of the garment. I want to make sure that I’m putting out garments that I know are worth the price.”  

Vanessa Ramirez, Maldonado’s fashion instructor at EPCC, also speaks about the quality of Maldonado’s clothing line and her growth since first starting at the community college. 

“I was unaware of how much she was willing to do to get to where she wanted to be,” Ramirez said. “I feel like her brand is very cohesive and thoughtful. On the plaid pants she made, she pattern matched. She’s gone out of her way to do that, which takes a little bit more time, a little bit more effort, and a little bit more money in the cutting process. It reminds me of higher fashion. Ready-to-wear, not fast fashion. Her pieces are not things you can find at your H&M or Forever 21. These are custom made and feel that way.” 

To Maldonado, fashion is art.

The clothes that she designs have a story and speak for her. The young designer explored the medium by letting her collection be a way for women to explore their identity.

“A lot of my clothes have a deeper meaning to it,” she said. “My first collection represents this growing stage in your life where you’re kind of in between stages. I’m not a teenager anymore. I’m in my early 20s, so I’m a young adult transitioning into this world and I want to be taken seriously. I want to feel strong and confident. I feel like I’m a woman in a man’s world. Fashion is also very much dominated by men as it is by women. I took references from the 70s for this collection because that was a time where women were starting to feel empowered. They were wearing different styles of clothing, mini shorts and miniskirts. They weren’t afraid of being judged.”  

Amaldeux brings an edge to how people style themselves in El Paso. Maldonado says that she feels the aesthetic she uses is suitable for anyone, no matter where they live.  

“I really see the LA vibe fitting here for El Paso,” she said. “It’s a sense of higher fashion which is what El Paso needs, but I can also imagine girls in Paris, Milan, and New York City walking the streets in some of my designs. Really, my designs are for empowered women that want to look and feel different and chic.” 

Maldonado’s mindfulness of using vintage fashion and ready-to-wear pieces shows not only how cognizant she is of sustainability, but also shows the vision she has for the fashion community of El Paso.  

So, what’s next for the young designer? 

Plans of releasing a fall collection are in the talks as well as a runway show and pop-up boutiques where people can have a sense of an elevated fashion experience.  

Based on my interview with Maldonado, several things have become clear: The one woman show that she is, is taking El Paso to places that this border town may not have thought it could go with its fashion, and we are going to see a lot more of this young designers work not only in our beloved city, but in fashion capitals in only a matter of time.