Writer/Photographer: Roger Talley
Producer: Cartagena Fashion Week
Location: Cartagena, Colombia
For the last eight years, Cartagena Colombia has taken its place among fashion-oriented cities in South America having annual fashion shows. In 2016 the city sponsored their largest ever fashion expo, showcasing not only designers and their lines, as other Fashion Weeks do, but also the civic involvement of the region in the fashion industry. Runway presentations were made by the local fashion design school, local and regional fashion retailers, and even the provincial government, which sponsors local designers as well.
It seems generally true that Central and South American fashion weeks are dominated by swim and resort wear, and Cartagena is no exception. In a seaside tourist city where the temperature year-around is likely to be in the 80s and 90s, there isn’t all the much use for the high fashion gowns that are commonly shown elsewhere. There were, however, several couture shows by local and regional designers that had a colorful, distinctively Latin American flavor to them.
Runway shows took place over three days in four different venues. The event-opening show on Thursday, May 12th featured Ecuadorian model and designer Liliana Henao, with a swimsuit line that can best be described as “provocative”, putting Brazil on notice that it was not alone in setting the bar in that category.
For the next two days afternoon runway shows in a local mall displayed the “community” and what it had to offer. In the evening on Friday the venue moved upstairs to the roof of the mall, where models came out on a specially designed runway in the cool evening breeze. One of those evening shows was by Yuriko, the 2014 winner of Colombia’s Next Top Model, who turned her love of fashion into a swimwear line. Another swimwear show was by Colombian designer Vanessa Garces, presenting her Bika Line. Of special interest was embroidered outfits by Isabel Caviedes, whose designs are manufactured by home-based artisans and seamstresses, who had been helped by a local civic organization that provides the technology and training they need to be able to be productive at home.
The finale, on Saturday evening, was held in the courtyard of the ancient Palace of the Inquisition. Brazilian swimwear designer La Bamba showed in Cartagena for the first time, and local rising star Llach also showed her swimwear.
The finale also showcased the “couture” elements of Cartagena Fashion Week, including two local favorites. Lia Samantha Lozano Rendón expressed the vibrancy of her Colombian-African heritage with bright, vibrant, exuberant colors and flowing print designs that speak as much with their movement as with their colors. The star of the show was Maria del Pilar Agámez, a Cartagena designer with an international reputation who incorporates hand-made craft items and linen “sezgo”, strips of fabric sewn together, into her clothing.
Maria Del Pilar Agámez