The photographers of ColombiaModa 2013


As a nurse, and a writer who mainly covers medicine and surgery – I was a bit nervous when I embarked on the Colombia Moda project.  However, with fashion and beauty playing such a large role in Medellin (and other cities in Colombia), I thought it would be a huge mistake not to cover this event.

the other end of the runway (Matt Rines)

the other end of the runway (Matt Rines)

So far – it’s been wonderful – and my fellow writers and photographers have been particularly so.  I was worried with my lack of fashion photography background/ experience that the other prensa (press) at the event would be daunting, or intimidating.

friendly Colombian photographers help the newbies

friendly Colombian photographer, Stevin Ortega helps the newby

But they haven’t been – they have been friendly, nice and amazingly helpful.  Before the first runway – there they were – scooting over so my additional photographer (Matt Rines) and I would have a good view of the runway – and giving us tips on using the best camera setting to capture images in this sort of setting.

Colombian photographer before the show

Colombian photographer, Federico Rios before the show

Watching the professional photographers is a little awe-inspiring.. Since we are sitting shoulder-to-shoulder (and even closer sometimes!), I can see their photos almost at the moment the shot is taken (on the digital display), and these guys are just amazing!  The clarity, the vision (to see that it’s going to be a good shot) is just phenomenal.  I was actually sucking in my breath –  a couple times as I glanced at some of my neighbors photos while we waited for the next model to come out..

with Juan Bouhot and Juan Estaban (Colombian press) - waiting for the runway to start

with Juan Bouhot and Juan Estaban (Colombian press) – waiting for the runway to start

International Press but little American representation

The majority of the journalists are from Colombia (InFashion, Caracol, El Colombiano and just about every Colombian magazine/ paper you can think of) but I have seen journalists from Panama, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and even Australia.  Matt and I haven’t seen any other press from the United States yet – but somehow that doesn’t surprise me.  (When I was pitching this story to two different news outlets – both said that readers weren’t interested in stories about Colombia.)

But for my readers here – I’d like to get closer, and get some more stories about the people who shoot the photos.

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More than Colombian News

But this isn’t a story about Colombia, really.  It’s more of a story about fashion, beauty and all that goes with.   Fashion is international – and this event certainly proves that. One of the big focuses this year – is trying to “reshore” the clothing construction industry as one of this year’s lecturers from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) explained.

It’s no longer cheaper, or easier to have clothing made in Bangladesh, India or China.. And that (previous) cheapness came with other complications – like long wait times, and a lot of bureaucratic headaches for designers and retailers.. Relocating these industries to the Americas is a boon for everyone.  Especially now that designers and retailers are changing their selling models – to embrace 7 or more lines a year “short lines” versus the traditional 2 to 4 lines.  But we’ll talk about that later – it’s almost time for the next runway to start!

Impanema runway model

Ipanema runway model (K. Eckland)

If you want to see more images by some of the photographers I have met:

LookatU – Paolo Trujillo

Julian Carvajal – (I was peeking over his shoulder at times – he’s a fantastic photographer).

Style Street –  fashion + photography

Estudio 8A – photographer, Jorge Ochoa from Argentina

Succo

John Drews  – highlights some of the work of Medellin-based John Erick Velasquez M.

What the runway looks like from behind the lens

whitedress1

 

As for me – I am working on several articles for other outlets – so I will post more information, and links when they are done. For the time being, you can follow my Colombia Moda twitter feed: K. Eckland for up-to-date photos and news.

Plastic surgery & Colombia Moda 2013


ad for Colombia Moda 2013 from Inxemoda

ad for Colombia Moda 2013 from Inxemoda

Fashion + Beauty are intrinsically tied together.  Sometimes it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins… (This is the more in-depth discussion from an article published on Examiner.com)

Fashion as the evolution of beauty

Fashion is the evolutionary arm of our concepts of Beauty..  While ad campaigns talk about ‘timeless beauty”, in reality, the standards of beauty are constantly evolving, changing, expanding..  This has occurred throughout recorded history.. with dramatic examples of idealized beauty in ancient Rome, feudal  Japan, China and the noble houses of Europe.  With that in mind – the evolution of beauty over time has more impact on (mainly) women, but also economics, surgery and technology.

Changing and conforming to beauty ideals throughout time

Since the earliest of times, we’ve used cosmetics, clothing, and even surgery (yes, surgery) to change our looks to conform to the beauty standards of that time/ place/ culture.  With the advent of the internet age, ‘global beauty’ is the concept that cultural differences in beauty ideals are breaking down and becoming enmeshed into a single universal ideal.. While my fellow writers could (and have written) millions of words on the sociological and psychological aspects of attempting to fit into a ‘beauty ideal’ – I am not interested in discussing the ethics, moral or personal beliefs of independent individuals nor shall I attempt to impose those opinions on readers.. What I want to know, and to see – (and be able to watch and identify) as these beauty ideals morph and change.

So – I am heading to fashion week 2013 here in Medellin with high hopes.. Medellin has long been a leader in fashion, beauty and plastic surgery – and I want to see what’s trending now – and what’s coming next.  Not so much interested in the styles of the clothes, as I am, in the bodies beneath the clothes, and how the clothes showcase or encase certain areas of the bodies..  Is the focus on hips and buttocks this year, or is it swan-like necks and slim backs?  High rounded breasts or sleek arms and shoulders?

A brief history of Fashion (and Beauty)

In the last century alone – we’ve seen dramatic sweeping changes in beauty ideals.. From the corseted Gibson Girl with her sweeping locks to the androgynous flat chested flappers with eton crops – the pendulum of beauty swings bag and forth..

As flappers out grew their short locks, styles in the 1930’s featured more natural but subdued curves..  to the mannish shoulders and aggressive features of our 1940’s gals..  Back to the softly overblown 1950’s pin-ups.. as the swinging sixties came in – so did Twiggy.. slim boy-like 70’s to anorexic 80’s with icons like Jane Fonda.. The 90’s heralded the rise of J. Lo, and the voluptuous figure once more..  But what comes next?

We’re heading off to Colombia Moda 2013 this month to see if we can spot the latest trends in beauty (and plastic surgery)

Additional references

The Gibson Girl – a (Virginia native like myself)

Heisan beauty ideals

How to dress like a flapper

Betty Grable and her great gams

Bettie Page

Twiggy

Miss Korea candidates and plastic surgery

Latin American pageant winners and plastic surgery

Talking to Wilmer Villa Miranda of Arte & Glamour


I am back in Mexicali (for the time being) but I was so busy during the last few weeks that I didn’t get to finish some of my posts talking about the interesting people I’ve met – and places I’ve seen..  I certainly don’t want to skip over Wilmer Villa.

Wilmer

He’s not famous, nor is he a surgeon – but just like so many of the people I’ve met in Colombia – he has a story to tell.  It’ didn’t start as an interview, but then it rarely does – it started out as a visit to a salon on Calle 115 No 59 – 35 with a friend.  But as Wilmer talked about his new salon (his first), and we celebrated the one month anniversary of his shoppe, a story started to  form.

No, he hasn’t invented a cure for cancer – or even a way to arrest the  relentless aging  process.  But he has managed to create a tranquil little spot in the middle of Bogotá for people to come and enjoy themselves for a few hours.

It hasn’t been easy – but with the help of a good friend (and long-time client), Alcira Acosta de  Chaves, Wilmer was able to move out of the previous salon where he had a chair to establish his own salon.  It’s a dream that has been several years in the making – which is obvious as soon as you enter the salon.

Everything is immaculate; organized and set out in a classically elegant black/white and silver scheme that evokes the 1940’s heyday of glamour.  But it’s more than just a place for a haircut or a manicure, Wilmer. 27, states.  It’s the entire package – the total experience, he explains, as he pours a client a cup of herbal tea.

“People can come here and get away from all the negative, and the stress [of their daily lives.]  We are here for more than just hair, and make-up. we are here for laughter, smiles and good times with friends.

His cheerful attitude is infectious, and as clients come in, he and Almira take time to explain the philosophy of the shop, and the experience.  “I want this place to be different” – it’s not a place for catty remarks, or cutting down of self-esteem.  It’s not about malicious gossip or sarcasm, ” We don’t need any of that here,” he says.  “It’s a place for people to form long-term relationships, share celebrations, milestones and happy events,” he adds.  And he means it – as each person enters, he greets them by name, they share a smile or a silly story.

It’s nice – and certainly different from many of the other salons in the area.  It isn’t about the up sell, or preying on women’s insecurities about their looks to sell services*.  They seem to genuinely enjoy their customers and in making their clients look and feel their best.

wilmer2

About Wilmer:

Wilmer, the child of a Colombian mother and a Venezuelan father, was born Cucuta, near the border.  He grew up in Chinacota, Colombia near the border with Venezuela.  He attended cosmetology school in Perico before coming to Bogotá.

After finishing school, he come to Bogotá to apprentice with several well-known stylists such as Hernan Abandano, and received a scholarship for additional training as a colorist.  He eventually received international certifications as a stylist and colorist – and has been a stylist for seven years.

He talks about how these experiences have shaped his life, and his outlook.  “I like to meet people from different places, and hear more about their lives.  I am learning English because I enjoy meeting and talking to Americans – and hearing their ideas and perspectives.”

Maybe Wilmer isn’t changing the world – but he is making it a more pleasant place.

*There is nothing more disheartening in my opinion than going for a manicure than being offered, “How about if we fix your hair” or “some Botox for those wrinkles”.. Or some other, more personal reminders that beauty, particularly in Latin America, is sometimes seen as more important that what’s inside.