The coveted Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is known around the world as the fashion industry's leading "strategic partner," highlighting cutting-edge, innovative designs that turn up the needle on the fashion Richter scale.

On Nov. 26-27, the event continues to be artistically groundbreaking with its addition of the first-ever Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Guatemala.

For over a decade, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week's influence and reach has impacted 100 places around the globe -- including New York, Miami, Milan, London, Berlin, Madrid, Cali, Istanbul, Mexico, Dubai and Australia, among others -- and now Guatemala, who has been added to the "fashion industry map."

Latin Post caught up with one of Guatemala's top designers, Thelma Espina, who will be showcasing her high-end, hand-woven handbags adorned with Guatemalan textiles, as well as her new clothing collection.

Being a part of the first-ever Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Guatemala event in her native country is epic for Espina.

"I have been to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City and also in Miami and it has always been a dream that one day Guatemala could host their own [show]," she told Latin Post in an exclusive interview. "So it is a dream come true to see the fashion industry progress and take such a monumental step forward. It is an honor to be part of the much anticipated, first ever Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at which I'm going to launch my clothing line. This is the beginning of a fashion-forward era in Guatemala."

Espina will feature her collection, called "MULTIFACETICA," which is an exploration of "how women can be beautiful in every stage and role she develops."

"This collection is designed for multifaceted women with an active social life, who enjoy pieces that are unique and different," she explained. "These women are trendsetters and their clothes will most likely become the topic of conversation. A great deal of thought and care goes into the look of each one of these pieces. They exude quality and show a combination of modern elements, along with femininity and much drama."

Espina will also feature her versatile collection of purses/handbags/clutches/hobos for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Guatemala, which can be worn during the day or evening.

"My handbags feature the clash of various cultures by incorporating trendy, high-end fashion concepts with original, Guatemalan textiles exclusively hand-woven for the brand," Espina explained. "The fabrics used in the handbags are a true, one-of-a-kind masterpiece; it takes between four to 10 months for a woman weaver to complete each piece."

"I am very proud of my culture, where we have come from and where we are heading," she added. "A percentage of the profits are donated back into the community which is one of the founding reasons I began producing the handbags."

With the launching of the first-ever Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Guatemala, designer and fashionsitas alike hope it will ultimately change the fashion industry's landscape and gain more recognition from around the world.

"There is so much potential in Guatemala and this is one huge step forward for the fashion industry," Espina added. "Hopefully new doors will open and this will help put Guatemala on the fashion industry map!"

There will be seven Guatemalan designers showing at the first edition of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Guatemala who sell their designs both here in the U.S. and overseas, including: Guishem by Guillermo Jop (selling in U.S.), Juan Carlos Quintana (based in London), Liza Carrillo (based in México City), Eduardo Figueroa, Hernán Dubois and Mauricio Samayoa.

"I am familiar with their work and respect and admire each one of them. They all are very talented, each in their own style," she said. "Throughout the process of getting ready for MBFWG, I have interacted and gotten to know the designers better and become more familiar with their individual styles. It is amazing to see fellow Guatemalans share the same passion that I do."

Espina, who sells her designs in Guatemala and Latin America, has a partnership with Henri Bendel in New York on the iconic Fifth Avenue location.

"I was fortunate enough to be invited to such a prestigious store to showcase my handbags on the first floor at Henri Bendel. It was an honor to be given the privilege to have a trunk show there and it was an inspiring experience for me in so many ways. I was able to share my story and passion to hundreds and hundreds of people from all over the world. It was truly a humbling experience and was definitely a kick start to my dream."

Retail fashion has always been a family affair for Espina, but she wanted to take this passion a step further and make a difference in her beloved native Guatemala.

"My family has been in the retail fashion industry for almost 14 years. After college, I eventually worked my way into opening up a few of my own retail stores," Espina said. "I have always had a passion for fashion and while working day-in and day-out at my stores, I was inspired to do something bigger and wanted to give back to my community."

"At first, producing handbags was just a hobby that I enjoyed doing for myself and for friends. Then one day, I decided that I can do what I love to do and at the same time I can give back to my community by donating a percentage of the proceeds. By using my creative talents to produce purses and now a clothing line, I not only want to create more jobs but I also want to put Guatemala on the fashion industry map. I am very proud of my country and want to do all I can to give back and help it prosper."