As the city’s fashionistas headed to the airport for Bogotá Fashion Week, Alejandra Chipatecua spoke to some of those involved
Although the city has more than eight million residents and is the financial centre of the country, Bogotá still seeks to reach the same level as other capitals, such as Buenos Aires, London or New York, and fashion can certainly be a part of this growth.
“The capital offers tourists the chance to explore a whole world of fashion. There are 7,000 stores and there are areas dedicated to clothing and emerging designers”, explains Tatiana Piñeros, director of the Instituto Distrital de Turismo.
With that in mind, Bogotá Fashion Week 2015 (BFW) was born as an event that hopes to stimulate the industry.
Colombia’s capital inaugurated its first fashion week just outside the city’s Aeropuerto Internacional El Dorado, showcasing nine talented designers – using a variety of textures and materials – to show the world the massive potential that Bogotá has when it comes to fashion.
BFW’s fashion curator, Pilar Luna, explains enthusiastically: “It’s incredible that Bogotá, unlike most major world capitals, never had an event like this, so it’s really positive. It stimulates fashion, as it’s not just a few catwalks, but boosting the whole of the city’s fashion industry. What’s more, we want to become a fashion destination, we want people to come shopping here and discover the quantity of talent and creativity on offer”.
Over the course of the week, the airport held a number of different exhibitions and catwalks from different designers who opened the door to the little-explored world of fashion in the capital. As Luna explains, “We have an impressive level of talent and that’s the point of these events – we want to show it off”.
BFW’s selection of designers was centred around highlighting things made in Bogotá, such as leather goods, upmarket jewellery, wool and handicrafts, with an emphasis on emerging design, showing off the wide variety of national products on offer for the consumer.
Leather, a must-have for the capital
The Julia de Rodríguez label surprised the visiting public with a collection inspired by Russia and its biting cold, which is beautifully embellished by huge coats and hats which mix wool and leather in an ingenious and masterful manner.
The brand’s designer, Augusta Rodríguez, told The Bogotá Post, “We have some Cossack garments, very typical of the region, with some very special materials, shiny, metallic, painted and aged leather, things which are rarely seen around here. The collection has a beautiful variety of textures, with different shapes. Each piece is created individually, so even if the basic design is the same, the colour or the buttons etc. will be different … no piece is the same as the previous one”.
And while Bogotá has had a long history with leather, the current state of affairs is quite different. Rodríguez tells us: “The situation is complicated, as are the production processes. The raw material is sent for processing in Italy or even in China and we are left with the lowest quality material, so we need to strengthen the industry in order to deal with the situation”.
The traditional, family-run company, which boasts a long history in the market, will be opening a new store in the Centro Comercial El Retiro, in addition to the first shop in the north of the capital.
A journey through artisanal traditions
Designer Juan Pablo Socarrás transported the audience to the north of Colombia with a homage to his family, called Vientos del Trópico. “It’s a journey through the south of La Guajira, it’s a history of those people who travelled around on a mule but who also had to take a train to the capital to study and better themselves. It’s a homage to my roots, to Colombian handicrafts, an attempt to take them to a state of glamour, make them luxury items”, explains the designer.
Socarrás continues, “It’s also a tour of the entire country’s industry, brought together in one collection”.
This young talent invites us to venture into the variety of artistic pieces that Colombia has to offer.
“Here you can find unique, handmade pieces, through which you can tell stories and which mix the work of many people across the country.”
Choose your style
Presenting for the first time in Colombia was mcma London – although its creator is a Caleña who travels the world in search of inspiration, it was not until 2009, after four years in the UK’s capital, that she got this initiative off the ground.
One of the brand’s designers, Carolina Mejía, explains, “As it is our first time in the country we wanted to show what the brand is about, the essence being individuality. That’s why there were a lot of dresses and outfits with words that encouraged people to ask themselves who they are inside. As designers, we just have to offer designs, not categorise women, but leave them to decide which style to include in their life”.
The collection included a contrast of leather, studs, sequins and cotton clothing. At the end of the catwalk a dancer from Cali delighted the public with his breakdancing, really bringing the party to the show.
But this intervention wasn’t just for fun, as Mejía explains, “Every time you buy mcma you help our foundation which subsidises extracurricular activities for children who have been victims of domestic violence, so one of our boys danced with the models. He is now part of a group and is here in Bogotá training for a tour around the country”.
By Alejandra Chipatecua, Photos: Ana María Salazar Echavarría