Her collections are featured in Vogue and celebrities love her designs. WGSN Business Development Manager Angela Maria Diez charts the rise of the Colombian star
The first thing you need to know about Johanna Ortiz is her designs are the epitome of effortless sexyness. Her flirty style is absolutely feminine yet balanced and classy, relying on distinctive necklines and shoulders, latin vibes, dramatic volumes and vibrant colors. Maybe is her “caleña” roots, maybe is her “glocal” lifestyle, but her clothes are bringing that salsa music feel and appeal to women all over the world.
Ortiz was born in Cali, Colombia, also known as “the world capital of salsa” and studied fashion design in the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and Parsons School of Design. She then returned to her hometown to create beautiful clothing and, eventually, a very specific look that has captivated not only Colombian but Latin women and the fashion industry’s attention.
The designer’s eponymous label has been around for a while – it was launched in 2001 – but she wasn’t catapulted into fashion super-stardom until 2014 thanks to “Nativa”, her SS15 collection presented at Colombiamoda (Colombia’s Fashion Week).
It was full of travel references, must-haves and best-sellers such as the Tulum Top, showing the perfect amount of skin while retaining that very distinctive Colombian charm. She continued perfecting her signature looks with her subsequent collections.
For “La Garçonne”, Ortiz deconstructed specific masculine pieces and turned them into feminine staples. With her first Fall collection specially designed for Moda Operandi (she had never made Fall before due to Colombian tropical non-seasonal weather) she began exploring oriental silhouettes such as origami pleats and knots.
I also loved the designer’s Resort 16 collection, focusing again on off the shoulder tops, dramatic balloon sleeves, structured ruffles and day to night versatility. It was incredible – a distillation of the style her fans have fallen for.
So, seriously, if you don’t know her work, please do yourself a favour and check it out. Catch some Colombian “tumbao” invest in her collection and learn to salsa while you’re at it. You won’t be disappointed.
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