Johanna Ortiz’s vibrant colours, feminine silhouettes, signature ruffles and off-the-shoulder silhouettes have earned her a loyal clientele, but how did she incorporate her design aesthetic into her latest collaboration? For its annual Festive collection, Nespresso collaborated with Ortiz on a “Gifts of the Forest” collection which features limited edition coffees and accessories that make inspiring designer gifts, while also helping protect trees in the Amazon …
Firstly, what is your daily routine?
As a Colombian, I love coffee! It is part of my morning ritual; I take a moment for myself over a cappuccino before meditating and working out and always before my three boys wake up when the morning really begins. Colombian coffee is of course my favourite and I love the Nespresso Master Origins Colombia – it is fruity and sweet with a red berry aroma. I get to the office around 10am and get ready for fittings and meetings with my design team. After lunch, and during collection times, I will have a pick-me-up coffee. I rarely go over three coffees per day. In the late afternoon I usually go watch my boy’s polo lessons, which is a great way to unwind after a busy day.
What is your working wardrobe?
I’m all about being relaxed yet sophisticated and adding a little bit of the extraordinary. I usually go for tunics with strong prints and flat sandals, or a wrap skirt with a bodysuit that accentuates my silhouette. If I want to accessorise, I’ll add my necklaces made of Iraca palm or a beaded mochila [pouch].
Your brand is very much a reflection of Latin vibrancy …
Yes, Colombia and the tropics are always part of my inspiration. The woman I design for is a lover of beauty and a passport stamp collector. I’m always curious about embracing and mixing my culture with other cultures from around the world. My roots and my surroundings are very important to me, so one thing that is always present is the fantastic Latin American “magic realism”.
Your AW21 collection is glamorous yet grounded with versatile pieces and new prints …
“Aureliana” is a collection inspired by magical realism and the delicate line that exists between fantasy and the new reality in which we are living. It is designed for an edgy woman, with vibes from the 1980s, a little more rebellious and less romantic. We wanted to create the perfect silhouettes for “barefoot living” using sustainable materials and creating versatile garments and different ways of wearing with the idea of focusing on conscious consumption, but at the same time elegant and effortless, all characteristics of Johanna Ortiz.
As your brand has evolved you’ve collaborated with Aerin Lauder, Tabitha Simmons and most recently with H&M, which was the first time H&M had collaborated with a Latin American designer. You have really put South American fashion on the map – how do you define its style to others?
I think South American fashion has really evolved. From materials to fabrics and natural fibres, it’s a region that has so much history and unique craftsmanship, it’s impossible not to admire what these designers bring to the fashion industry.
What was the starting point for the Nespresso “Gifts of the Forest” collaboration?
For me, design and nature go hand in hand which is why this collaboration resonated personally. As I have said, Colombian coffee has a truly special place in my heart and as an active supporter in the fight against climate change, knowing that Nespresso is going beyond its agroforestry commitments by supporting the protection of ten million trees in the Amazon, it was another huge reason why this collaboration made perfect sense. When designing the collection, I took the idea of capturing the beauty of the forest throughout every piece, by incorporating rich forest canopies and dark earthy tones within my designs. It’s been an amazing process and partnership.
Does designing for product rather than prints on dresses require a recalibration?
My design process always starts with a colour palette for inspiration. Once we had the lush, earthy colour hues, we added the print. It’s all very connected, when we develop a print, we also work on the universe around it – the practicality of a versatile design that can be used in clothing but also interior design and as inspiration for our home collection.
This collaboration is in keeping with your other initiatives and brand ethos to help others. What achievements are you most proud of?
My proudest achievement is without a doubt La Escuela Johanna Ortiz. Through our Escuela, we offer local women from my hometown Cali, embroidery and seamstress courses free of charge. We offer the skills necessary to dignify and augment their careers while receiving emotional, mental and psycho-social support. The training also dedicates time to building strong personal skills, such as emotional intelligence and self-confidence, as well as basic finance to apply to their own households. Upon completing the programme, the participants have the tools to either be part of the Johanna Ortiz family or pursue their own professional careers in the industry. This programme is meant to positively impact our community and contribute to be a more sustainable business.
What’s on your Christmas wish list this year and where will you be spending it?
As this collaboration developed, I was more and more inspired to get creative with gifts that give back – to find meaningful expressions of love that are more than just trinkets. Every piece we designed with Nespresso as part of this collaboration carries a promise for future generations and is a way of giving back, which is part of my Christmas wishlist! Finally, as a family, we love having special traditions for the holiday season and spending Christmas with the whole family in Cartagena, more specifically, the island of Barú, is one of them.
Need to Know: The Nespresso “Gifts of the Forest” collection features a range of limited-edition coffees for both the Original and Vertuo systems, along with festive-infused accessories. Top picks include the advent calendar, from €39, and sleeves of Forest Black, Fruit or Almond (ten capsules are €5.20) for original coffee machines. For Vertuo Coffee machines the sleeves of ten capsules are €7.20. Nespresso is giving back to the forest by helping protect ten million trees in the Amazon. www.nespresso.com
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