Johanna Ortiz is a Colombian fashion designer whose ultra-feminine dresses are loved not only by her Colombian friends and clients but also by women all around Europe and America, including Hollywood stars such as Kerry Washington, Malin Akerman, Kate Hudson, Jennifer Garner, Keri Russel, Rachel McAdams and singer Beyoncé.
The designer was born in Colombia and studied fashion design in Florida, where she graduated with honours from The Art Institute. She said she knew early on that she wanted to work in fashion as she had always loved to draw and dress-up. In 2001, after graduating, she returned to her native Cali, in Colombia, and because she couldn’t find clothes that she would want to wear, she began designing her own clothes. Her friends loved her looks and used to ask for advice and help with styling, so she thought: “why not start my own brand?”
She began with swimwear, tunics, and sarongs. This year, as her eponymous brand turns 15, besides the feminine dresses that have already become her trademark, she also designed for her latest Fall collection coats and jackets in military-style and decorated with several diamanté pins, which were inspired by the military decorations from her grandfather who had been a cavalry general.
Johanna Ortiz has already become a big commercial success, selling her evening dresses and wedding gowns at Moda Operandi, Net-a-Porter, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Lane Crawford, she is now considered to be kind of an ambassador for Colombian fashion, showing her work even at the White House.
Ortiz’s style is definitely very sexy and flirty. She designs dresses for women of all ages who want to accentuate their femininity and want to feel free to have fun when wearing her clothes.
Her inspiration is quite international and eclectic. It goes from Latin women and South American rancho style to American Georgia O'Keeffe and her landscape paintings of New Mexico's desert, women from the 50s, French women and also menswear and military style.
This big mix of influences results in exuberant one-shoulder or off-the-shoulder dresses with bold and colourful prints and plenty of ruffles, that can be layered with tailored military-inspired outwear in a perfect balance. Ortiz likes to include menswear-inspired pieces as she feels they bring a different type of sexiness to her collections.
Besides making incredibly gorgeous gowns, Johanna Ortiz also has a deep sense of social responsibility and, to give back to the community, she works with indigenous communities and women in Colombia. Our Kudos to you, Johanna!
Photo: Johanna Ortiz' Show by Aldo Decaniz