Columbian designer Johanna Ortiz creates feminine, bright and joyful pieces that are made for endless summer – perfect for us in Dubai.
She offers and fresh and wearable colour palette and uses frills, bows and oversized proportions to add another dimension to all her pieces. If you’re a fan of ruffles, wiggle skirts and signature off-the-shoulder tops then Ortiz is for you.
Below, we meet the designer behind the label that can’t help but make you smile.
Who is the Johanna Ortiz woman?
The #JOwoman is festive and effortlessly elegant. She is a refined traveler who enjoys escaping to the tropics with the sand on her feet.
Tell us a little bit about your background and how you started in fashion.
I studied at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in the US. Then, I came back to Colombia and launched the brand with Resort collections. Soon, what I was doing evolved to a Latin-style ready-to-wear brand for the global woman.
Your collections always feel fun and joyful, what inspires you?
I always keep in mind our festive joie de vivre. I can say that in Colombia, we enjoy life at its fullest. But most of my inspiration comes from art, my travels, books and the botanical scenarios from the tropics.
Describe your design process?
I start with the inspiration, always thinking of what surrounds me, from banana trees, orchids, birds, it comes from palm trees to cockatoos. I produce a mood board with colors, vintage photos and fabrics that I find on trips and then I work closely with My team! We have some fun while drawing and painting and giving life and color to the ideas.
What role did Moda Operandi play in helping your brand reach a global audience?
It has been more than four years since we launched the brand to the international market, thanks to Moda Operandi. Moda has been an essential partner for our global vision for the brand.
What is your first fashion memory?
Using my mother’s interior design fabrics…
How has the fashion industry changed since you first launched your label?
I think the biggest change we all have all seen is the rise of digital and e-commerce. The truth is that e-commerce has opened doors to the international market and Instagram has brought us closer to our consumer. In terms of aesthetic, I think Fashion is always running from one style to another; women, however, always want to feel feminine. That will never change.
How important is it for the collections to reflect what you yourself would wear every day?
I always wear the clothes. It’s important to feel the clothes in real life situations; feeling the fabric is essential as I have to know how it will fit on the body. I live in a tropical paradise and that’s why we design collections that have a very resort feel. At the same time though, I do travel a lot so I like to design for moments in big cities and colder environments.
How has the brand and your design aesthetic evolved over the years.
We started as a Resort brand but soon evolved into ready-to-wear with a very couture-like process. We keep the essence of the brand; everything is produced in-house and we try to move forward in silhouettes while having fun designing each collection. We are also working with more sustainable fabrics, taking the company in a more ‘green’ direction. We have grown from a small team to 380 people working in Colombia.
What challenges do you face today?
I always push myself to be more creative and authentic. I am always striving to remain relevant in today’s ever-changing world.
What can we look forward to in your latest collection?
For spring-summer 2019, the starting point of the collection was Paul Jacoulet, a true renaissance man. He was French but born and raised in Japan; a good calligrapher and a recognized butterfly collector. His favorite clothes were kimonos. The muses of Jacoulet and his day-dreaming scenarios set the color palette for the collection. There were garden roses, a joyous tropical life, Ukiyo-e and the idea of creating ‘pictures of the floating world’… a creation by a romantic woman, a poète who wanders between her inner world and le monde extérieur.
The collection is feminine and bohemian; it is a collision of the oriental and the occidental. Raffia brings a relaxed tone whilst tassels create a more elegant mood. We incorporated fringe with our signature ballooned sleeves. We are still in love with embroidery, experimenting with pleats and polished cotton. Our love affair is and always will be prints; garden roses for poetic, more dreamy days and polka dots for those long luxurious nights.
Do you have any future plans for the Middle East?
From Instagram, I see many of our JO woman are from the Middle East which I love. I would also love to visit someday and meet all those beautiful women. I don’t have any upcoming trips planned but hopefully will very soon.
Name three items you can’t live without?
Sunglasses, iPad and my pillow.
Complete the sentence: I’m happy when…
I spend time with my family; my three boys and my husband are my everything.
What do you do to relax and unwind?
Every morning I have ‘me’ time. I need time alone to reset, be grateful, meditate and be in silence. I also love being with my three boys and husband every evening, it keeps my heart smiling and that is the best medicine.
What really annoys you?
If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Believe in yourself and have always compassion.
What is your most treasured possession?
My family. Always.
Who would you like to be stuck on a desert island with?
My husband, Cesar, and books.
Describe the view from your window today…
I’m looking at Paris, I’m staying here for a few days after the SS19 show at PFW. I love this view.
What’s your personal motto?
Treat others as you would want them to treat you.