Designers creating one-of-a-kind handmade products
As I walked into Olga Piedrahita’s boutique, studio and gallery, a whole sensorial experience came about, difficult to describe at first sight. It’s clear that the form of expression this artist, who for some reason chose fashion as her main practice, are images and objects that carry a romantic, yet risky and out of the mainstream aesthetic. Thanks to the continuous exercise of inviting and collaborating with more than 15 creative designers within the same space, it’s clear that Piedrahita’s universe in not based on showcasing her work exclusively, but rather in the idea that all pieces are connected and enhanced by each other, in a web of signifiers and visual elements.
Olga Piedrahita’s studio is a net-like-gallery of creative jewelry, textiles, graphic and fashion designs. The studio is not meant for each one of the individuals involved in the creative, production and merchandising processes to have one and only mission within the company. It’s rather intended to persuade the dialog, and from it, the creation of playful, visual elements that always question the audience coming into the store in the midst of Bogotá’s fashion scene. Her proposal of ideas, silhouettes, and styling alternatives to clothing and shapes subtly subverts the way people approach fashion in a country like Colombia. Piedrahita questions, without any need of aggression – something that might come as unusual for a conceptual designer in the fashion industry.
The sweeping store speaks on its own, starting with the words that are painted all over white walls, ceilings and floors. The subtle, yet bold visual merchandising only reinforces the essence of this designer: from the digital prints on the majority of her garments, to her approach to interior design, furniture, luggage, and accessories. Shoes are the perfect arrangements on top of hay patches, and exemplify Piedrahita’s constant game between the old and the avant-garde elements she constantly works with.
The strangeness of the vintage objects-turned jewelry (Bazz de Grant, Danielle Lafourie), or the delicate silk flowers sewn together to form a wedding dress, as well as the landscape prints that compose feminine jackets, all coexist in the same space. Very often tromp l’oeil effects are applied to the visual merchandising and the design of the clothes, showing how “almost anything could be something else,” a phrase that can be fully understood once you’ve hanged out at Piedrahita’s store for a while. Dresses, skirts and jackets made of a structured cotton canvas look wide and flat when hanged on the walls, but surprisingly morph into voluminous and flattering frocks once they dress a woman’s figure. It is a fact that the canvas digital prints and the somehow unexpected silhouettes are, more than the key to a successful Lafayette collection, an imaginary experiment between surfaces, volumes and movement.
The jewelry, showcased on top of rough egg cartons and delicate bell jars, strikes for its impressive sizes, refinement and colors, but also because it embodies the history of vintage handles, compasses, charms and miniature objects turned into wearable sculptures for necks, arms and fingers. Chains and knots adopt a dressing function – sewn as tops – beyond mere accessories, and the millinery samples from La Coquito are intended to be rather small and hang on top of more-than-audacious personas, thanks to the festive ornaments that go from baroque feathers and little birds, to punkish studs, leather fringes and nets.
The whole store encompasses an intrepid sensorial quality; just like any fine arts installation at a white gallery, with the difference of the commercial input by which the audience is invited to adopt part of Olga Piedrahita’s lifestyle and fashion universe. It’s an invite for us to question beauty and style, and beyond it, for us to play, paint, design, photograph, embroider, print, and most importantly, challenge our dress codes!
To read the Spanish version of this post click here.
Olgapiedrahita.com – Cra. 14A # 82-36, Bogotá, Colombia; (571) 6228681
Photos by Laura Acosta