Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi’s music video for “Despacito” has garnered more than 4 billion views on YouTube, making it the most-watched video of all time. Part of the video’s success depended on the authenticity and believability of its costumes, which is where Puerto Rico-based designer Yasiri Castro came in. She was tasked with styling the entire cast, including former Miss Universe Zuleyka Rivera. Meanwhile, Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee were styled by Ed Coriano and Rachel Johnson, respectively.
Castro has spent more than a decade working on local and foreign projects, including the film The Rum Diary, where she assisted Academy Award-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood, and Talento de Barrio, which Daddy Yankee produced and starred in.
Despite Castro’s impressive résumé, she didn’t set out to conquer the costume design world. She stumbled into the trade — and fell in love with it — after helping style a film cast when she graduated from the University of Puerto Rico.
She sat down with PEOPLE CHICA to talk about her latest work on the record-breaking music video for “Despacito.”
PEOPLE CHICA: Are you surprised by the success of “Despacito?
YASIRI CASTRO: None of us thought this would happen. When the director Carlos Perez approached me I just said “yes” without hesitation, but unaware that it would have this much of an impact. I had worked with Daddy Yankee before on his movie Talento de Barrio, and, of course, I’ve always been in awe of Zuleyka Rivera. So, it just seemed like a fun project to be a part of. The production was super low-key.
PC: What was the inspiration for the styling?
YC: We wanted to paint the hood basically. Everyone thinks the hood is not beautiful, but La Perla, where the video was filmed, is a very colorful and vivid place. We referenced a lot of Rihanna photo shoots like the one she did with Vogue Brazil in 2014. We also referenced Janet Jackson’s “Got ‘Til It’s Gone” music video. I think one of the biggest challenges was to make Zuleyka, who is a gorgeous ex-Miss Universe, seem like just another girl from the neighborhood. So, our references were heavily focused on her wardrobe. As for the rest of the cast, we wanted to really bring out the colors of La Perla. Not only with Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, and the dancers, but the extras too. We paid attention to every little boy and girl on camera.
PC: What elements of Puerto Rican culture did you draw on for the video?
YC: The thing about Puerto Rico is that it’s a very casual place, yet everyone is well-dressed all the time in very colorful clothes. Old men still carry the tradition of wearing hats and suspenders, so I wanted to incorporate these everyday characters in the video. That’s why the men playing dominoes and at the nightclub look so dapper. It’s funny because one of the men in suspenders actually brought those clothes himself and he’s notorious for them. That’s what we wanted, really, to emphasize how colorful and stylish the Puerto Rican people are.
PC: What are some of your favorite pieces and looks in the video?
YC: Probably the sandals Zuleyka wears in the opening scene. I found those on Instagram because the designer Erika Peña posted them. I completely fell in love with them, and so did Zuleyka. But, I also love the look of the dancers and the extras. I think a lot of stylists and costume designers forget about the whole background of the video and focus only on the protagonists, but what I love about this video is that the whole cast looks very real and united. It paints a complete picture.
PC: How has the success of “Despacito,” which is now the most-watched YouTube video of all time, impacted your career?
YC: It really hasn’t hit me until now that it’s the most-watched. Those are a lot of eyeballs and none of us thought this would happen. It’s very different because in music videos there aren’t credits like in movies, so a lot of people don’t even know I worked on this video. But, I think it’s really going to change because now other creatives are referencing the work we did for “Despacito.” This could open some big doors, not just for me, but for everyone who worked on this project behind the scenes.