Latin America On The Catwalks: Bolivar Hall Hosts Ecuadorian Fashion Show:

The 2011 Fashion Season is almost over. The main focus of attention (as always) has been on New York, London, Milan and Paris. Other venues such as Hong Kong, Berlin, Copenhagen, Moscow, Tokyo, Sydney and Barcelona also attract considerable global fashion media coverage – but only one Latin-American city: Sao Paulo, which twice a year holds what “Vogue” has described as the region’s “pre-eminent fashion show”. According to the magazine’s market editor, Emma Elwick  (quoted in the “Independent” newspaper),”Brazilian design and designers are spearheading a new look that is increasingly taking over in Europe and the US”. The Independent itself has concluded that UK consumers are steadily embracing Brazilian styles – especially those of leading names such as Daniella Helayel, whose latest “Issa” collection featured on the catwalk at the British Fashion Council (BFC) Showspace  on 17th September during London Fashion Week (LFW). In her LFW profile, she cites Karl Lagerfield, Miuccia Prada and Coco Chanel as her “design heroes”, emphasizes that her label “is all about effortless glamour” and attributed her inspiration for Spring / Summer 2012 to “Rio and everything that goes with it: Carnival, sunshine, colour and nature.” Her compatriot Inacio Ribeiro  also participated in LFW as one half of the “Clements Ribeiro” label ( he is married to the English designer Suzanne Clements) as did the “Belgian / Peruvian” Christopher de Vos for the “Peter Pilotto” company.

In April, ABC News defined Latin American fashion as being “ all about ruffles, femininity, sexiness, comfort and funky accessories”. Hollywood stylist Phillip Bloch has noted (on  “ that “some of the fashion industry’s top designers are Hispanic” – among them Oscar de la Renta (Dominican Republic), Carolina Herrera (Venezuela) and Narcisco Rodriguez (Cuba) – and that “embroidery, embellishment, colour, flowers and beading are important to Latinas and to Latin American history”. De la Renta, he contends, “caters mostly to a socialite-and-celebrity crowd” (for example, Cameron Diaz, Sarah Jessica Parker, Beyonce and Hillary Clinton)  and “weaves hints of latin flamboyance” into his collections. Meanwhile, the Atlanta-based fashion writer Sofia Ambrosia has accredited the “ resounding success” of Herrera’s Spring 2012 collection at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York to her “stunning” use of colour: “Green, in various hues from emerald to lemon grass, as well as in stripes; A classic  & infinitely wearable black, red and white combination with an incredibly stylish leather belt, matching handbag and equally unusual red sandals”. Shakira, Nicole Kidman and Renee Zellweger are reputed to be Herrera fans.

Among the many other Latin American designers who have had an impact on the global fashion scene in recent years are: Carlos Miele (Sao Paulo, Brazil), who “uses plenty of patchwork, structures his clothes with bold colour and is popular with Christina Aguilera, Penelope Cruz, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Lopez, Sandra Bullock & Naomi Campbell”. (“”). Esteban Cortazar, (Bogota,Colombia) whose “dark, elongated silhouettes, rock n’roll leggings, bold touches of colour, audacious and elegant body-fication” at last year’s Colombian Fashion Week in Medellin evoked enthusiastic comments from Alice Pfeiffer of “Fashionista”. Madonna and Beyonce are said to be Cortazar admirers. Gustavo Cadile (Argentina): Celebrity followers: Catherine Zeta-Jones  & Eva Longoria. From Mexico, Carla Fernandez, ”specializing in handmade textiles” and Alexandra Quesada “who takes inspiration from her country’s strong connection with embroidery”. ( Ruben Campos, the “architect” of Chilean fashion, whose work has been described as “startingly beautiful, elegant and  sophisticated” ( Liliana Castellanos, Alejandra Moreno, Marcelo Rojas and Keny Gutierrez are just four of the many Bolivian designers who “launch their latest concepts, especially women’s dresses for high society events” at “Bolivia Moda” during May each year in Santa Cruz. From Ecuador, Tatiana Torres : “Elegance and sensuality are the keys to her creations” and Luis Tippan, identified with “ versatile designs, fantasy, cocktail and gala”. Ecuador’s Fashion Week 2011 took place at the Simon Bolivar Convention Centre, Guayquil in August. The Ecuador Miami Fashion Show has been scheduled for October 8th. These events  and the “(re) making of traditional latin american garments such as the poncho, the guayabera and the maguey-like sandals” (assessed in “The Latin American Fashion Reader” by author Regina Boot ) are having an increasing influence on global fashion trends.

The Anglo-Ecuadorian Society’s Fashion Show in Bolivar Hall on Tuesday 20th September (coinciding with the latter stages of LFW) was – as their events organiser, David Palmer, acknowledged – “a bold innovation” on their part. Nonetheless, there was an excellent turnout for the occasion – including a media contingent from the LFW catwalks – and fervent applause for each of the evening’s three presentations. “Top of the Bill” was Ecuadorian designer Maria Cuji, who has in interviews indicated a predeliction for “high-waisted leg trousers, gorgeous evening dresses and sophisticated headgear” – the last of which was in particular evidence that evening. Indeed, as she has emphasised, she “first became involved in the fashion industry (15 years ago in Ecuador) by working for a modelling agency and making hats”. At Bolivar Hall, her display was preceded first by that of Debbie Huntley’s “L.2 Mae”, for whom “aesthetics artists & shapes and mountains are sources of motivation”. Her label veers towards the high-range market. She was followed by a parade of colourful and appealing designs by John Kaveke, who studied fashion initially in Kenya, then in Spain, where he worked for other fashion labels before starting his own. Most of the audience stayed behind long after the official conclusion to enjoy the drinks and canapés and to take informal photos of the models who mingled with the crowd.







Filed under: Society | Posted on September 29th, 2011 by Colin D Gordon

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