This Bolivian designer gives a more contemporary twist to the traditional dress of her country, “but without losing its spirit.”
Life goes on normally in a small indigenous village in the Bolivian Andes, where clothes are made that inundate the landscape with bright colours. In Bolivia there are 36 different indigenous ethnic groups and one of the distinguishing features are the colours and shapes used by each group in their attire. In this way, an expert on the subject can differentiate from the crowd, individuals who belong to the Quechua group, the Aymara or the Guaraní, amongst others.
One of the defenders of this idiosyncrasy is the Bolivian President Evo Morales, an indigenous President of America, and who wears, in all his official acts, garments that his fellow citizens of the most rural areas wear.
For this purpose Hidalgo has recently presented a collection in London inspired by the costumes of indigenous people, but adapted to the current style. This was to mark the occasion of the ‘International Fashion Showcase 2013’.
“I had to do something representative of the culture of my country. A reflection of the ‘Andean cross’ in my designs, because it is used there to point out important dates, such as for example, the equinoxes and the planting season. My dresses are inspired by every season of the year”, she explains. The creation of her work has required a lot of research. She believes her work is essential for the traditional costumes not to disappear in a period in which a migrant exodus from the countryside to the city is occurring.
“People who go to the cities change their way of dressing, there is a fusion of styles. If young people do not continue weaving there is a danger of loss of the meaning of iconography and the colours that identify each village.”
In this way, the snake, condor or coca leaf, – the latter considered as a force element which allows indigenous people to contact their gods – are present in the creations of Hidalgo.
“According to their dress you can identify them. They shear the sheep and dye fabrics according to tradition. I know that there are projects so that women and children maintain these customs” she says.
But much of her joy is due to the numerous positive opinions of the attendees. “It is gratifying to see the reaction from people; even those from the Embassy are interested because they want to buy clothing for official acts that are distinctive of our country.”
The appreciation of Vivian’s work is extended by the Bolivian Corina Rojas, who notes that the standard used is “what we have in our country, but the designer has modified them, not only in the material used, but they have become more modern and contemporary.”
Furthermore, Carolina, one of the people who attended the show, notes that colourful designs embody the identity of Bolivia and have a “minimalist” touch which makes them pieces of fashion that will be used by “certain select groups of society.” Despite the result, Vivian Hidalgo has new projects in mind, including the making of costumes for President Morales himself or for the athletes of her country in the upcoming Olympics games in Brazil.
Among her objectives are a deeper understanding of the culture and traditional techniques, to make what was fashionable in the past a trend of tomorrow.
(Translated by David Coldwell: firstname.lastname@example.org)