This year’s Bogotá Fashion Week is expected to be the most Colombian inspired ever.
While the country’s indigenous languages, rituals and crafts continue to survive in Colombia, these traditions often seem to be fading and it can be surprising to see them. But they will be represented at the fourth Bogotá Fashion Week, April 24 – 26 at the Centro de Convenciones. The event is expected to draw around 13,000 people and this year’s opening Colombian designer is Adriana Santacruz, a woman who has been working her whole career hand-in-hand with indigenous communities.
Organisers at the Institute of Design (IED) decided to give the 56-year-old the prime slot in the show because this year’s main topic is local identity. Colombian culture is the thread that weaves the 2018 fashion week together, with every designer being chosen with this in mind. With some two billion pesos expected to be spent, it’s a big opportunity.
Adriana was born in Pasto in the south of the country, where the indigenous population is still prominent. Ever since her first collections, Santacruz has become well-known for always taking the risk of working with local communities and their ancestral craft techniques.
She has worked with indigenous communities not only because she is inspired by the techniques they use, but she also feels they help her in a spiritual way. Every collection Adriana has launched is a mix between the design knowledge and mystic practices they have taught her. This year is no exception. Her Prêt-à-porter fall/winter 2018 collection, the first Colombian show of the week on April 24, is called ‘La Ruana’. It is inspired by what she describes as present contemplation and future expectations.
The materials used to create ‘La Ruana’, cotton and wool, were woven using ancestral techniques such as horizontal, vertical and waist looms called guangas. In addition, the clothes were dyed in traditional ways such as tie-dye, Ikat and brocados, passed down as family heritage, especially through women from the Pastos ethnic group from the south of Colombia, who Santacruz has worked with in this particular collection.
Adriana is also known for her eco-friendly designs, due to the knowledge the indigenous community has imparted to her. All they need is the loom and a stove that they can work around. That’s the way the collection became ready to wear.
On the catwalk the collection will be complemented with the accessories of Danielle Lafaurie. Despite being the daughter of a famous clothes designer, Olga Piedrahita, Danielle has made a name for herself in the jewellery design world. She learnt it when she worked in the Gem Palace, a well-positioned jewellery outfit in India, as well as designing shoes for Divina Castidad, a brand that is best-known for their handbags.
It won’t be the first time the Colombian designer has participated in an event like Bogotá Fashion Week, having previously appeared at Colombiamoda, World Fashion Week Paris, Vancouver Fashion Week, among others. Hence the inaugural show will be another achievement to add to the list of Adriana Santacruz’s accomplishments. In recognition of her work rescuing local traditions, and bringing them to a larger audience through fashion, she has been honoured with acknowledgments from the likes of Lápiz de Acero Azul, the greatest award a Colombian designer can win, a scholarship from the Marangoni Institute in Milan and an Iberoamerican exhibition of design in Spain.
The takeaway lesson for Colombia’s aspiring fashion designers at this year’s Bogotá Fashion Week: it pays to work hand-in-hand with the local culture. To see the proof, they need only attend the opening catwalk by Adriana Santacruz.