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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Johanna Ortiz: A celebration of the exquisite


Special to The STAR

From the Resort collections I have viewed for 2023, one definitely stands out. It’s intriguing, sophisticated, rustic and playful.

Like all her previous work since her beginnings in 2003, Johanna Ortiz’s proposal remains fiercely authentic, feminine and very much her own. By this I mean that she integrates current trends in her own way, at her own pace. She will not allow trends to absorb her point of view but rather creates a space for them in her sketchbook.

Her unique proposal is elegant, mature. Her silhouettes are polished and sensual. The Colombian fashion designer doesn’t force sexiness. She doesn’t use super low necklines or double-high slits. Ortiz suggests all that femininity in a clever manner, so delicately that it takes a back seat to the primary matter at hand: her classy fashion-forward super chic designs.

Her signature style is front and center.

“Each piece confirms a commitment to excellence and originality. Precise in construction and exuberant in spirit,” as she explains on her website, “the allure of complexity, the mark of individuality.”

We love the big patterns, the supersized palm trees, the ruffles, the tribal feeling, the exquisite textiles. Born in Cali, Ortiz was trained at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, so part of her imprint reflects those two worlds, the modern influences going forward and the immensely rich artisanal details that she calls “intricate artistry.”

The details in her designs are not simple hints of her heritage, oh no. She celebrates our Hispanic culture to the fullest. Ortiz has been making global headlines and collecting stellar reviews for years with collections that don’t hide our cultures but rather celebrate them. She shares our colors with the world. This is her power.

Through her work Ortiz intertwines new and vintage using fascinating contrasts. We love the pairings she creates with beautiful and exciting effects: handwoven raffia and paillettes, seed beads and sequins, maximalist prints and knit, feathers and metallic accents, 3D cords and glitter. That impact is priceless.

In her Resort collection “Oriana” Ortiz includes elegant options and statement looks for women without borders. Her looks are not numbered like most designers do in their books. They are named like art in a gallery: “Pasado Tumultuoso Maxi Dress,” “Mother Continent Midi Dress,” “Iconic Terrains Cape,” “Chilling Out Pants,” “Latin Vintage Mini Dress.”

The color palette is fabulous as well: bright greens, blues, chocolate, lavender, burnt orange, coral, fuchsia, black and ecru.

I am still in awe at her mini dresses with raffia accents on the hemline and feather trimmings. Stunning, really. Her one-sleeve dresses and tops with asymmetrical draped necklines are oh so glam as are her wrap-around maxi dresses in patterns of fuchsia, chocolate and black.

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