FEATURE PERFECT: AN EXCLUSIVE TALK WITH JOHANNA ORTIZ
LATIN ROOTS, GLOBAL APPEAL
Johanna Ortiz is on a roll. The Colombian designer certainly took the fashion world by storm with her ultra-feminine and dramatic aesthetic defined by off-the-shoulder tops and dresses with festive tiers, bouncy ruffles, and a Latino-infused sensuality.
“My creative process is deeply rooted to my Latin background. It’s all about joyful prints, color palettes, volumes and dramatic shapes that are characteristic of heated salsa nights and tropical festiveness,” says Ortiz of her flourishing namesake label in an exclusive interview.
Ortiz, who dresses the likes of Beyoncé, Kate Hudson, Jennifer Garner, Mandy Moore and Olivia Palermo, studied Fashion Design at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. After graduating with top honors, she returned to her native Colombia and set up her couture label in Cali, where she was born and raised. Her first Resort collection bowed in 2002 and evolved into a full-fledged women’s ready-to-wear line by 2014.
For sure, you can always count on Ortiz to bring a ray of South American sunshine and steam into your day. Citing such elements as ruffles and oversized shirting as hallmarks, she points out that evolution comes in the form of “integrating new silhouettes as well as beautiful tropicália-themed prints made in the atelier in Cali.”
Similarly, the pretty brunette thrives to strike the right balance between femininity and strength, between female empowerment and effortless elegance. It’s not by chance that her muses are Lee Radziwill and real women that express individuality.
Elaborating on the sexy-versus-sensual dilemma, Ortiz states it’s all about “balance, body language and attitude. The elegance of the neckline with the off-shoulder top is the perfect reference of Latin sensuality with refinement.”
Her creative spark is kindled by everyday life, from long walks on the beach to club hopping to leisurely balmy Sunday afternoons reading a book. Because, after all, “life itself drives creativity.”
In terms of growth, Ortiz is chugging full-steam ahead to expand and establish her brand globally. With 350 employees in her Colombia headquarters, she is keen to grow that number and generate more opportunities with her hometown with which she is deeply rooted to. It’s no wonder she has become a fashion ambassador for Colombia, invited to show her collections at the White House and at the UN center in New York. “I believe in giving back to my country which is why working with indigenous communities in Colombia and with women who are head of households is a top priority for me,” she stresses.