True story: on March 12, I walked through a deserted Herald Square making a beeline for H&M. The second installment of Johanna Ortiz’ collaboration with the high street brand had just dropped in stores that morning, and even a pandemic wasn’t going to stop me from securing the frock that I wanted. Even though an international travel ban had been announced the day before, I was planning to wear the dress, with its signature Ortiz ruffles and print, to a gala that was set to take place at home in Ireland a few months later. Like many, I thought we’d be over the worst by then. I did wear the dress for the occasion, albeit teamed with slippers and a spiked seltzer, as we all tuned in to raise a toast via Zoom.
I almost admire how hopeful I was on March 12, because six months later I’m still subject to the travel ban. But looking at the Colombian designer’s new Spring Summer ’21 collection reminds me to remain positive, because we will all travel and celebrate in person again, and when the time comes to book an airline ticket, we’ll be glad we invested in a little something special to wear.
Ortiz herself is grounded too: she couldn’t show her wares in Paris as usual, so she opted to showcase the collection in a lookbook shot on the streets of her hometown of Cali. This time around, she was striving for a type of ‘barefoot glamour’ (with our increasingly at-home lifestyles, is there any other kind?). While the collection was still indicative of the Johanna Ortiz aesthetic through and through, there were subtle shifts towards more versatile, wear-it-anywhere separates and staples. Voluminous silhouettes and tiered ruffles gave way to two-pieces and roomier robes in recycled cotton, poplin, and satin. Though femininity certainly wasn’t sacrificed, as there was still oodles of elegance to a cut-out embroidered dress with balloon sleeves, sleeveless longline vests, wrap skirts, and frilly tops.
The pieces were created in Colombia by artisans at Ortiz’ 380-strong Maison. Hand-woven accessories were also made by empowered female workers, and embroidery was completed by communities in Colombia and Panama. Sustainability goals and charity initiatives remain at the center of everything that the 17-year-old brand does, and this season Ortiz collaborated with several small groups, including Act 4 Amazonia who are working for ecosystem recovery in the Amazon.
Click through, and let yourself be mentally transported away from the rainy mid-week weather we’re experiencing here in NYC. See you at the airport….eventually!
See the full collection below: