by Tia Janowski
Anciela took over Crypt on the Green in London on the 18th of September to showcase their newest collection, “Latin Notes” at London Fashion Week. A historic venue with its brick ceiling and warm-toned wood flooring combined with the dark, atmospheric lighting of the show, Crypt on the Green was the perfect place to showcase this collection.
Founded by Colombian and Chilean designer, Jennifer Drougett Espinosa, Anciela strongly values inclusivity, sustainability and creativity.
Espinosa created the brand to explore her South American roots, drawing inspiration from diverse backgrounds and cultures. She often uses Latin folklore, craft and childhood memories, as well as her experiences of being an outsider in London, as inspiration for her designs. She also heavily draws inspiration from literature, historical costumes and surrealist artists such as Leonor Fini and Remedios Varo.
“Latin Notes” is the result of four years of collaboration and creative expression, celebrating Latinx art and tradition whilst also addressing the importance of identity, immigration, and environmental responsibility.
“Migration is a profound journey that prompts introspection, encouraging us to ponder the essence of our individuality and the transformative power of life experiences” the press release states. The collection is a personal exploration of what it means to be a Latin immigrant living in London whilst also exploring what it means to be a designer during this time of environmental challenges.
Following her goals to be environmentally conscious, this collection uses various sustainable materials, including deadstock poplins, Irish hemp-linen jacquards, recycled British yarns from Linouiio and vibrant deadstock fabrics by artist Allegra Hicks.
Collaborating with Studio Kuhu, this collection also features signature blends of Mexican dyes, including cochineal from Oaxaca, Mexico. In Mexico, natural dyes are used to convey stories and symbolise identity to connect with Mexico's land and history. The sustainable materials alongside dyes from Mexico strongly tie this collection to Epinosa’s inspirations and its values as a brand.
“Latin Notes” showcases a diverse collection including everyday wearable pieces like maxi dresses and puffy jackets and more artistic garments such as a cage dress embellished with origami butterflies. The clothing pieces, including short blazer dresses and colourful, tight body suits, are well-suited to modern fashion, highlighting the model’s feminine figure in a non-stereotypical way.
Many of the garments feature large shoulders and voluminous sleeves while maintaining a natural flow with unique and abstract shapes. The designs incorporate elements such as open backs, halter necks, and exposed skin, providing a flattering fit that will make anyone feel confident.
This collection showcases a range of patterns and experimental techniques that exude a powerful seventies vibe, as demonstrated by the prominent use of teardrop and bleach patterns. The orange jumpsuit is a prime example of this inspiration, featuring a low-halter back and flared legs. The use of natural and vibrant colours reflects the influence of surrealism and aligns with the collection's sustainable ethos.
The models were the highlight of this showcase, embodying the brand's inclusive ideals with a diverse mix of ages, sizes, ethnicities, and gender identities. It was truly wonderful to witness the wearability of the collection, as each piece was expertly tailored to flatter the model's individual features. The models brought their own unique flair to the show, with some dancing, others moving freely, and some sticking to traditional walks that felt natural to them. This personal touch added depth to the performance and made the collection feel accessible to all.
Singer, Desta French displayed the final garment: a long, quilted purple dress. Designed to expose the skin in various experimental ways, the dress was draped to flow naturally despite the weight of the fabric. The outfit was completed with a matching angled headpiece and long orange gloves, which blended seamlessly with the rest of the collection. While walking down the runway, the designer, Espinosa, followed the model with a cart containing a jar of natural dye with an altered PH and a paintbrush. She proceeded to paint French's dress and headpiece for several minutes, creating a design that matched the floral pattern present throughout the collection. The process was captivating to watch, with French moving her body on the spot whilst Espinosa painted her to showcase the outfit.
The show came to an end with a stunning performance by Desta French and Viva Msimang, while the models took their final walk down the runway. Maestra Eliania Echeverry's musical composition, which was inspired by the Llanero tradition and Manuel Rangel's rhythmic interpretation of the maracas, accompanied the showcase. The eclectic mix of sounds complemented the collection beautifully.