By Jeimmy Paola Sierra
Medellin, Colombia, Jul 27 (EFE).- After dazzling the fashion world once again on the Colombiamoda catwalk and noting the impact that his “Amazonas” collection is having on people, Colombian designer Diego Guarnizo has reconfirmed to himself that his task “is being done well” by connecting with the purpose and creative spirit that motivates his heart and mind, namely: “Making fashion in Colombia, for Colombia and with Colombia.”
In an interview with EFE, the designer said that the people who create fashion in his homeland “always look abroad, (they) want to emulate spring-summer, autumn-winter, Milan, Paris,” and although he does not view this in a negative light because that’s what “globalization” is all about, he does hope his trade will look inward more and develop its “own real” industry.
“In Colombia, where we’re still building this industry, it seems to me that I’m undertaking a very responsible and honest activity in terms of really making visible what we’ve got. It’s very powerful. This country has suffered a lot, but despite all the violence, drug trafficking, corruption, despite all the pain, Colombians keep smiling,” he said.
Apart from the applause he’s received for pieces like the “pirarucu dress” (a reference to an Amazonian fish), the “heliconia” (a tropical plant) coat and the jaguar jacket on display during Wednesday night’s fashion parade, for which Guarnizo was inspired by the Amazon jungle, the designer said he gets fulfillment from having put a message regarding conservation into the public domain in a fashion show with content, origin and voice making us turn our attention to the region known as “the (green) lungs of the planet.”
“Clothing speaks. I want all of us to turn clothing into a fashion manifesto – for clothing to be something above and beyond (simply) being,” Guarnizo declared.
The Colombian designer is viewed as an “inspiring leader” who tells conscientious stories via his garment creations, as has been the case with “Feliza,” a collection that turned public attention toward the Colombian Pacific to provide lessons and learning about “Respect for the black race, especially for the black woman, who is mistreated at all levels.”
With his “Alegria” collection, inspired by the Colombian Caribbean, especially by the city of Cartagena, he paid tribute to the women who make the typical pastry known as “alegria” (joy), and then immersed himself in his “Magdalena” collection to highlight “Colombia’s river of life” which has fed the country but which today – he said – has been “turned into a cemetery.”
“I have to be consistent with my country, I have to be very responsible with the industry,” Guarnizo said after calling to mind his memorable collections, with which he invites the Colombian fashion industry to be “true to itself and real, not lying or frivolous.”
With this eagerness to work in his homeland, Guarnizo even resurrected machines that had been idle for years in Bogota to start making embroidered elements using the “guipure” technique, “which had been forgotten.”
With the help of a local entrepreneur, the designer created the thousands of lace accessories that he needs for his collection.
For Guarnizo, “no designer can yet say that we’re making luxury garments. In Colombia, we still don’t do luxury.”
“The only true luxury” is called “national handicrafts,” a theme that was very much in evidence in his “Amazon” creations, which came to fruition with the contribution of indigenous communities who, in addition to being “so wise,” are surviving in an “extraordinary” way by using various local fibers because “the jungle is powerful”.
“Just look at the story of the rescued indigenous children. The jungle itself protected and fed them,” he argued, referring to the story of the four young siblings who survived for 40 days in the Colombian jungle after a plane crash, adding “how can we not pay homage and give Amazonas a woman’s voice.”
In addition, his role as a “guardian” of Colombia’s Serrania de Chiribiquete National Nature Park, designated by UNESCO to be part of humanity’s Cultural and Natural Heritage, motivated him speak up this year for the Amazon upon viewing the deforestation and damage to ecosystems occurring there.
“The … members of the industry underestimate the power of fashion because we don’t believe and the ego defeats us,” said Guarnizo, and for this reason he said his aspiration is for whoever buys an “Amazon” garment to get a “very clear” message that we are guilty of destroying the planet and to “start doing something, even if it’s small.”