management (L-R): Pamela Bustios of Chris Smith Management, Dream Team Agency Co-Founder Susan Stipcianos and Colombian artist Duina del Mar. (Photo: Michael Seto)

Billboard and Donna Karan New York celebrated "the inspiring women of Latin music" at a fashion show and luncheon at the JW Marriott Marquis in Miami on Monday. The invitation-only event opened this week's Billboard Latin Music Conference and Awards with a champagne toast.

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Don't miss the Billboard Latin Music Conference & Awards, presented by State Farm taking place April 23-26, 2012 at the JW Marriott Marquis, Miami. This year's conference includes Q&As with Pitbull and Jenni Rivera, the 2nd annual Latin Music Marketing Awards, and execs like Target VP of entertainment John Butcher and Univision radio president Jose Valle. Visit for details.

"You are fantastic accomplished women," Billboard Executive Director of Latin Content and Programming Leila Cobo told about 50 attendees, who included music executives, entrepreneurs, managers, artists, publicists and media. "It's not easy in this industry, so this lunch is for you."

"Women in the industry are few and far between and it's great to see that here they are a priority," commented Angela Martinez, VP of Latin Business Affairs at Capitol Latin, in a jovial mood. "It's interesting to see the diversity of women here. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy."


Comparing the Billboard charts to designer collections, Cobo noted that Billboard's role in the industry is to predict new trends, similar to the forecasts Karan creates with her clothes. Cobo wore a graphic dress in a modernistic tropical print from the designer's spring runway collection. The dress was furnished by Neiman Marcus, which collaborated on the event.

felita Felita Harris, Senior VP of Global Sales for Donna Karan and Janice Combs (Sean Combs' mother). (Photo: Michael Seto)

A pop-up shop and a fashion show at the lunch showcased designs by Karan. Felita Harris, Senior VP of Global Sales for Donna Karan, described the designer's lines as clothes that "encourage women to feel beautiful, powerful and sexy in the workplace."

Harris noted that the luncheon was the result of a partnership between Donna Karan and Billboard targeting women and music. She noted that the Latin Conference week event made sense because the designer has a significant Latin customer base.

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The subject of fashion inspired lunch table conversation about the typical bombshell image of Latin women.

"I would say our personality is what makes us sexy," said Rosy Cordero, a contributor to who also has a blog called "You can put a Hefty bag on a Latina and she's going to look fabulous."

Spanish singer/songwriter Beatriz Luengo, who joined Cobo on stage for a Q&A, took the subject further, commenting on what she called the aesthetic differences between Europe and the U.S. Pointing out her interest in the environment and recycling, and wearing artistic outfits, she recalled wearing a dress made of newspaper to Univision's Premios Lo Nuestro Awards for Latin music.

beatriz Singer Beatriz Luengo and Billboard Executive Director of Latin Content and Programming at the Billboard/Donna Karan New York fashion show and luncheon for women in Latin music. (Photo: Michael Seto)

"Nobody understood my dress," said Luengo, who moved to Miami and last year released an album in the U.S. for the first time. Playing the moment for laughs, the petite performer, wearing an off the shoulder Karan tunic as a dress, pointed out a bigger cultural difference.

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"In Europe it's normal not to have a large chest," she said, pointing to her top. "The first thing someone told me in the U.S. was if you are going to be a Latin artist in the U.S. you have to put in, you know," she held her hands out in front of her chest. "When I went to the Premios Lo Nuestro [and saw the women there], I understood."

Luengo, accompanied by a guitarist, performed two of her songs -- comic social commentaries on the superficiality of women's magazines and relationship strife -- to bilingual cries of encouragement from the ladies at lunch, who shouted: "Eso!" "Yeah!"

Mustache Mania: Singer Beatriz Luengo entertains the lunch crowd. (Photo: Michael Seto)

"To be happy, to be honest, to be different," Luengo said when Cobo asked what advice she had for young female artists. "It's a difficult moment in the music industry but that's why it's time to be different. People will put the attention on you."

The 23rd annual Billboard Latin Music Conference presented by State Farm continues through Thursday April 26 at the JW Marriot Marquis, capped off by the Billboard Latin Music Awards show at Miami's BankUnited Center, which will be broadcast on the Telemundo Network.