Why is south of the border style having a moment?
Must love Mexicana
Sporting an abundance of south-of-the-border influences, designers are decidedly in fiesta mode. Inspired by the culture-rich, colour-soaked countries of southern America, resort collections are hyper-decorative in Ecuadorian-inspired rainbow embroidery, El Salvadoran-style ruffled blouses, Guatemalan ikat weaving and Mexican tapestries. Even Pantone tapped a fiery red shade entitled 'Fiesta' as one of the most important colours of the season ahead.
Diana Vreeland once said of sartorial inspiration, "The eye has to travel." Taking this literally, Valentino's Resort 2016 collection went around the world in 82 looks, taking care to spend a significant amount of time in America's southern states. Ponchos, shifts and separates came blossoming in floral embroidery, fringing and studs. Millinery label, Sensi Studio, released a capsule of dresses and beach cover-ups in intricately woven and traditional embroidery, courtesy of local Ecuadorian Cañari artisans. Australian stylist (and ex-British Vogue fashion editor) Pippa Holt launched her debut collection of kaftans with Moda Operandi - each piece hand-woven by an artisan in Mexico. Even French label Chloé had tie-dyed, Mexican-inspired tassels decorating their rainbow silk dresses.
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Taking less inspiration from traditional embellishment and more from traditional costume, New York label Apiece Apart's resort collection was heavy on gaucho pants and ruffled bodices, reminiscent of El Salvadoran national dress. Prints took on organic, earth-toned stripes, inspired by woven Mexican serape scarves.
Some may have taken their inspiration too closely: Isabel Marant's huipi-inspired designs recently led to an incident that saw the French Government issuing a patent document to the authority of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec of Oaxaca city, Mexico, on behalf of the designer, preventing its residents from selling their native designs. (Marant denies having issued the patent and is currently working with the French courts to rescind it.)
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So, how to get into the spirit of fiesta season without looking like a Frida Kahlo tribute act (fabulous though that may be)? The key is to try one element at a time. Beginners might dip their toes into the trend with an off-the-shoulder, subtly ruffled frock in the seasons signature red such as Johanna Ortiz's. Alternatively, try Sensi Studio's black cotton shift, hand-embroidered in hyper-colours, paired back with simple black sandals and fuss-free grooming. Then, when feeling bolder, embrace flounce, vivid motifs, loud prints and playful extras - and be sure to have fun with it. They don't call it a 'fiesta' for nothing.
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