Latin fashion designers find inspiration close to home, in Venezuela, Ecuador and Colombia

Jul 16, 2016

With a penchant for bright colors and graphic patterns – and thanks to growing interest among luxury retailers and celebrities – South America’s hot crop of designers are set to embolden your wardrobe.

Lady's Panama hat, made in Cuenca.

Lady’s Panama hat, made in Cuenca.

They don’t have to look far for inspiration, borrowing their lively, often wild, emblems, colors, and styles from Venezuela, Ecuador, and Colombia.

Colombian Johanna Ortiz, who jump-started the current off-the-shoulder blouse craze with flirty fare favored by fashion plate Olivia Palermo, offers a silk-satin jumpsuit with a sweet floral motif. Olga Piedrahita (also Colombian) found inspiration in wild, winged things for her current collection, including the quirky parrot print on her Loritos skirt.

Andean earrings.

Andean-inspired earrings.

Venezuelan coastal-style skirt.

Venezuelan coastal-style skirt.

Jewellery designers Paula Mendoza (Colombia’s number three desginer) and Monica Sordo (Caracas-born New Yorker) take a geometric approach to their pieces. Mendoza’s bold ring set – which can also be worn as an ear cuff – features raw emeralds, while Sordo’s stunning statement necklace is a mix of 24-karat gold and rhodium plating.

Bogota-based Mercedes Salazar’s festive drop earrings will work just as well with a simple T-shirt as with an LBD. Salazar, whose baubles have been worn by Katy Perry, is part of a group of designers who will have work featured in Holt Renfrew’s Uncrate South America pop up, launching in stores this September. She’ll join Gabriela Goldbaum, creative director of Valdez – a brand of made-in-Ecuador Panama hats – in the H Project space.

chl clutch

Lady’s clutch uses indigenous symbols.

“I was born and raised in Ecuador so I grew up influenced by artisans and aware of the cultural heritage of the Toquilla  or Panama — hat,” says Goldbaum, whose focus on translating traditional craft techniques to contemporary pieces is shared by many other designers in this mix.

Her hats will be produced in Cuenca and be exported primarily to the European market.

“I really want to promote and share the beautiful work of the artisans with the world.”

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Credit: The Globe and Mail, www.theglobeandmail.com

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