Johanna Ortiz RTW SPRING Collection 2021

Johanna Ortiz’s clothes have always had a strong sense of place; her botanical prints and ruffled silhouettes couldn’t be the products of a Northerner. That puts the Colombian designer at an advantage in our new normal.

With Paris, where she typically hosts her seasonal presentations, out of the question, Ortiz shot her spring look book and video on the streets of her Cali hometown. The tropical prints on dresses and separates are echoed in the local vegetation, and their vivid colors are lifted from the city’s brightly painted architecture.

Ortiz gained international attention for her off-the-shoulder party tops. Her aesthetic is as upbeat and joyful as ever, but she’s made adjustments. More of the collection is made from cotton; versatile two-piece ensembles have replaced many of her dresses (some tops can be worn back to front), and her signature ruffles have taken a back seat to subtler embellishments like mola embroideries made from recycled threads.

“Barefoot glamour” is how she describes the mood, though most of the collection will look as good with stacked-heel boots as sandals. “We’re designers,” she says, “we need to give this uplifting ingredient to our lives, even though we’re all living in this difficult moment.”

Of course, Colombia hasn’t escaped the ravages of COVID-19. Nor is it immune to the dangers of global warming. Proceeds from this season’s T-shirt will be donated to Act 4 Amazonia, a group working for ecosystem recovery in the Amazon region.