Johanna Oritiz traveled the globe to pull together a treasure trove of inspirations, from the colors of saris in India, filtered through the flora and fauna of her home country of Colombia and with an added bit of Spanish flamenco flair for this season’s collection of feminine dresses.
In bright greens, deep purple and rich browns, Ortiz played on the travel theme with palm prints, triple-tired skirts and fringed mantoncillos that did double duty across the collection, first as traditional cover-ups then translated into fringes on skirts and ’70s-inspired halter dresses. There was flounce in her skirts this season, but she still cuts a sharp blazer for a modern touch.
As always, Ortiz’s accessories were an intriguing strong point, particularly her handwoven bags. Each one was unique and takes months to make. This season some were mask-shaped, inspired by the Embera tradition, talismans for an evening out.
Ortiz is vocal about keeping her production in Colombia even as her business expands. She works with local artisans and established a trade school to teach couture-level craft. She also offers up a new ethos, one of staying small.
As orders amp up, “it’s become a challenge,” Ortiz said. “But I don’t want to make it, like, massive. I just want to make it unique and relevant for those that really appreciate it,” she said of her brand, which has developed a loyal following.
“People tell me you need to produce [outside of Colombia] to become bigger, to sell more, but I think that I want to keep it as I’m doing it — simple.”
For pulling in from all these traditions, her vision feels very modern.