At her recent presentation at Paris Fashion Week, we caught up with the Colombian designer about her Spring 2018 collection and more.
Colombian designer Johanna Ortiz may have shown her spring/summer 2018 collection in Paris this season but it sure felt like she welcomed us into her homeland. Held at the Colombian ambassador’s private residence in the Seventh Arrondissement, the presentation allowed Ortiz to showcase her beautiful designs in the most authentic (there was a spread of Colombian snacks and sugar-free mojitos) and intimate way. We were lucky enough to snag a few minutes with the designer who shared with us the starting point for the collection, who the Johanna Ortiz girl is, and more. —Jessica Minkoff
What was the starting point for the collection?
I design my own prints with my team. The prints started from a nice picture from Gaugin called ‘Who Am I, Where Did We Come From, and Where Are We Going?’ It is a painting that embodies everything that Johanna Ortiz is. It is joyful, festive, and effortless, tropical feeling. This time I tried to mix cultures and the cultures are Africa, Asia, and America joining together, and by joining them I mean styling them together and working together and actually it works in an way that is effortless because cultures do mix each other and unite with one another. That was the message that I want to give. It is unity and that there are no frontiers. Everything can work together.
"The title itself asks the type of question that makes you realize that we are one."
What specifically about the painting inspired you?
The title itself asks the type of question that makes you realize that we are one. It doesn’t matter where we are born or what religion we are from or what culture we come from. You can see in the kimonos I used the bugs, which brings America and the tropics in a bit to Asia, in order to have a fusion of everything and create a balance. The balance is around having a bit of each culture.
How has the brand evolved since you started?
Well now I am in about 30 doors and I started with one! [laughs] And that was three years ago so it has been a lot and now I have 350 Colombian people working in my atelier. We are doing all the manufacturing in Colombia and I think it has been amazing, not only the growth of the brand but for me as a Colombian designer bringing a bit of Colombia to the world.
When did you realize that you wanted to start your own line?
Actually I studied fashion and I went back to Colombia and I got married and had kids and everything and I was always working as a designer. It was after I became famous in Colombia that I landed on Moda Operandi and I was the first Colombian designer of apparel, because there was Nancy Gonzalez and Aquazzura. It was amazing because then everybody became interested in the brand and in three years we have opened all of these doors and I have been tagged [on Instagram] with people in Asia, and I have been tagged with people all over the world and it just feels so good.
Who would you say the Johanna Ortiz girl is?
She is somebody who wants to look festive and elegant, and enjoys fashion.
Tell me about the models here today.
We brought six in from Colombia and the rest are from here in Paris. We did a casting a few days ago and we were looking to create a multi-cultural scene. I met this girl who looks like she is from a Gaugin painting and when I saw her I was like ‘ahhh, she is my muse for this collection.’