My relationship with fashion dates back to the early childhood. Dressed in floral ensembles with glittery boots of matching colours, a tiny bow decorating the bob haircut I—to the horror of my mother—had insisted on getting, I daydreamed about becoming like the empowered, stylish woman that brought me up: always immaculately dressed with pastel-coloured pantsuits, sky-high heels, and long curls framing the beautiful smile that still manages to comfort me more than anything else in the world. The early ensembles were often replaced by full-skirted dresses for special occasions; later, and more permanently, by outfits made up of cropped tops, bell-bottom jeans, and 5-inch platforms; and eventually by pussy-bow shirts, culottes, and floral Gucci slippers. As I grew, the ways I fashioned myself changed, but one thing remained constant: the sense of empowerment that I give myself with clothes.
With Colombiamoda (Colombia’s annual fashion week) just around the corner, I have been thinking a lot lately on the state of fashion both in the country and the broader region of Hispanic America. Although my thoughts on the matter have evolved as I develop a more critical, studied, perspective with my increasing knowledge of the field, two common threads don’t change at all: First, that Colombian (and Latin American) fashion has a great potential of appealing to cosmopolitan consumers from different places and of providing the international fashion market with world-class goods; and second, that there is a strong need to develop a more critical approach, in which we talk about fashion as a local phenomenon, within its own context.
Here are some of my thoughts, a short reflection on the topic I wrote about 18 months ago.
One of my favorite ways of researching fashion is documenting and reflecting on my own dress practices. In doing so, I undergo a process of introspection where I question not just the actual clothes I choose to wear—both on the day to day and on special occasions—but also the reasons that lie behind those choices. It is a process of self-ethnography that allows me to explore the relationship between my own body, its material extension in clothing, and the social context in which it lives.
Two—or rather, three—years ago, I embarked on what has been the wildest adventure of my life: getting a Master of Arts in Fashion Studies from Parsons School of Design. I still remember waking up one day and deciding to send my application, rushing to meet my Professors to get recommendation letters from them, trying to find inspiration to write my application letter, and even having to fly out of town to get the required standardised test done. And even if I tend to think doing things last minute doesn’t turn into positive situation, amidst the rush and the stress, I always knew I was going to get in. Somehow, I always knew I belonged to Parsons.
My sister has always been a character, especially when it comes to dress. When she was a little kid, she would hang around our home wearing a bikini, claiming that the perfectly cool weather of Bogota was too hot to wear anything else. She also was one of those kids that obsessed over her Halloween costumes and wore them for months. The most memorable one was of Bella, the Disney princess of Beauty and the Beast. The dress was made in a shiny fabric with golden sequins, and it brought a little crown and shiny plastic heels that matched with it. And I’m pretty sure my sister only stopped wearing it because it fell into pieces after years of use.
I wrote this article originally in Spanish, to be published on Inédito.co.
Much has been said in the history of fashion about high heels. Not so long ago, in the exhibition “Killer Heels,” at the Brooklyn Museum, over 160 high-heeled shoes, both contemporary and antique, were brought together in order to explore what is considered to be one of the most provocative of fashion accessories.