I have Colombian blood. I don’t think about it all the time but it is surely with me. When I see someone who is from Colombia I look carefully for something I recognize in myself. Something – I don’t know what. I guess I am looking for a connection. And when I hear about someone who is from Colombia, I take notice. It happened recently when I read that Nina Garcia, fashion journalist and critic (and long-time judge on Project Runway) is Colombian. And it happened today when I read the sad news that Colombian fashion designer and president of luxury handbag and accessories brand Nancy Gonzalez, Santiago Barberi Gonzalez, passed away. And so sad too, that he was only 40 years old. I didn’t know anything about the brand, but reading that it was deeply admired and that it’s design aesthetic was rooted in the natural beauty and rich culture of Colombia, touched me. And hearing about the kind of person Gonzalez was did connect me in some way – to his humanity. He sounded very special. As it happens, he and Nina Garcia were friends – she wrote on Instagram, “He was a star.”
When I hear about Colombia I am intrigued. My Colombian roots come to life as I search a face or see a photo or hear a piece of cumbia music. So when my friend Tina traveled to Cartagena and took images for me I had to see for myself what is Colombian fashion and maybe, discover what makes me, me …
Silvia Tcherassi is a Miami-based, Colombian fashion designer born in Barranquilla, Colombia. She has been described as “revolutionizing the Latin American fashion scene in a definitive way.” Says Tina, “Haute couture melds with street fashion in Cartagena… just as the old melds with the new!”
Tina: “I love the front window at this fabric store! I don’t know if you can see all the detail but the orange dress actually has 3D flowers on it! The perfect place for budding designers… and if you can’t afford the fashion at Silvia Tcherassi make something unique yourself!
Did you know that in Colombia, South America, it is a tradition to wear white on New Year’s Eve? Wearing white symbolizes purity and a fresh start to the new year. So, while I was (and still am) trying to figure out how to properly wear winter white in sub-zero temperatures, Colombians were ringing in the New Year in white while turning up the heat to 80 degrees. Another fun fashion trend in Colombia? Wearing loud, colorful pants with bold prints.
Who told me? Caroline Misan Alvo, founder and leader behind Gambita, an online shopping destination for the petite woman (5’4″ and under), who recently spent 10 days in Colombia: Medellin, Santa Marta and Cartagena. And I am especially curious, because…? Because my birth father is Colombian, and I am interested in the Colombian people and culture.
Caroline says that the people of Colombia are very warm and friendly. They love their families and are a fun, party-loving people. Medellin is one of the largest cities in Colombia (Bogota is the largest) and home of Colombia’s national flower, the orchid. It has a definite urban feel. Santa Marta is a coastal city, with a small-town vibe. It borders a preserved park and is an up-and-coming city. And Cartagena? The very chic destination for the ‘who’s who’ of Colombia, with beautiful colonial architecture, great fashion and shopping. A very European city, Cartagena is home to the well-dressed.
Thank you, Caroline, for helping me learn more about my heritage.