Arts & Entertainment

Silk Road, Inca empire’s Qhapaq Ñan inspiring Ecuador fashion designers

By Susana Madera

Quito, Sep 6 (EFE).- The Silk Road, the ancient and extensive trade network opened up by China in the first century AD, and the Qhapaq Ñan, the network of roads that linked the vast Inca empire, have merged in inspiring a group of young Ecuadorian fashion designers to create garments with the Asian and Andean essence of those two great elements of human heritage.

The Qhapac Ñan, with some 30,000 kilometers (18,600 miles) of roads and pathways connecting modern-day Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, all of them strategic for the unification, growth and organization of the Inca empire, are now being incorporated into the design details of a series of garments transmitting power, peace and harmony.

The typical dragons and details from delicate Chinese porcelain appear in some of the allegorical depictions of the famous Silk Road, the vast road and caravan route network that connected Europe and Asia and over which circulated merchandise as well as scientific, cultural and religious knowledge.

In 2014, the two routes were recognized by Unesco as elements of World Heritage, a designation that served to motivate Ecuador’s Yavirac Higher Technological Institute of Tourism and Heritage to organize a gala to commemorate the 44 years of the historic city center of Quito as part of humanity’s cultural heritage.

“Quito is one of the main axes of the Qhapac Ñan because for them it was the most special place where the sun set vertically,” Yavirac rector Ivan Borja told EFE, referring to the fact that the Ecuadorian capital lies almost right on the equator.

For the Yavirac center, the Qhapac Ñan is living heritage and, aiming to rescue and display its wealth, art and culture, students in the Fashion Design curriculum in their designs have fused the contemporary with the ancient, the abstract with the real and the technical with the artistic.

Using assorted prewashed industrial and homemade textiles, embroidery, precious stones, laser cutting and other techniques and inputs, the students have created outfits for both men and women, short and long garments, some with long capes, that feature Andean, Asiatic and European representations.

Cocktail dresses adorned with precious stones applied by hand contrast with silk to create a harmony that suggests the red lake located in northern Chile and mining along the Copper Route.

Stylized and body-hugging designs with drape and fringes, and a collection of colors inspired by the different warm and cool hues of corn and straw appear in other outfits that will be presented on Tuesday night at the cultural fashion gala inspired by the two trade routes “that join borders.”

Making their way along the catwalks will be a number of models wearing designs with delicate references to Greek and Roman architecture, with subtly suggested details of church domes in guipure on the capes that shift as one walks, along with other outfits featuring Greek columns fashioned in precious stones.

Yavirac instructor Liliana Galarza told EFE that most of the outfits are in silk, and one of them features the flowers that grow along the route uniting six South American countries, while in another one can behold the fortress of Atahualpa, the last ruler of the Inca empire, while yet another highlights the “peace and tranquility of the sea.”

“The blue color of the outfit represents Atahualpa’s fortress,” Darwin told EFE while wearing formal three-piece silk suit, highlighted with cashmere.

At his side, Leonardo was wearing another silk outfit inspired by the “highway of the sea,” with a dark background suggesting the depths of the ocean and covered with designs inspired by the waves, the marine habitat and the strength of the sea.

For the design of the garments inspired by gunpowder, one of the most important inventions to come out of China, embroidery and precious stones represent its explosive power while the color red makes reference to the energy and the fire produced by the combustion of its various chemical elements.

Thus, coats and jackets, pants and shirts, suits with rectangular silhouettes, inverted triangles, trapezoids with both symmetrical and asymmetrical cuts – all of this suggesting the Silk Road and the Qhapac Ñan – will be on display at the Yavirac gala, not only just a fashion show but also a journey of contemplation and identity.



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