The Good Side of Chile Fashion Week

Dear readers,
You have probably already read enough negative press and unenthusiastic comments about Chile Fashion Week, hosted by mall Parque Arauco on November 12, 13 and 14, that I’ve decided to focus on “the good” elements of the country's biggest fashion event.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Rebecca Gaulin (click for more)

According to some Chilean journalists, the show was far too commercial and they could have seen the same things, and saved themselves the time spent waiting between

Santiago Chile
Photo by Natalie Estay (click for more)

shows, by having a walk through the mall. In fact, most of the stores were displaying the very same clothes on the runway as they were in their store windows.

In defense of the event, we could say that, after all, it was only the fifth one in the history of Chile Fashion Week, and that the Chilean public might still prefer to be inspired by high-street designs. On the other hand, fashion is still all about dreams, creativity and fantasy and can be detached from reality (reasonably, nobody to this day has ever gone out with their faces painted a la Alexander Mcqueen). Personal taste comes into play when deciphering the runway codes, and it is only then and there that fashion becomes real.

Focus on the goods things, we were saying. For example, the unprecedented amount of fashionable stylish girls that all of a sudden were united together with their colorful leather shoes and trendy outfits, a rarity in Santiago.

Good thing: the cellulite in the legs of the models, which made all the women in the tent sigh with approval. Just too good to be true.

Good thing: the collection by Pecadores. Ethnic, urban, creative, with lots of stripes, lots of sequins and layers, layers, layers. Had I not known it was Chile and that I was watching Pecadores, this could have been the perfect Spring-Summer 2010 collection that Canadian designers Dsquared2, kings of urban style, unfortunately did not create.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Rebecca Gaulin

Good thing: Patricio Moreno. Although a bit unpolished, his colorful collection featured long dresses and three beautiful wedding dresses. It made me feel better after the annoyingly slow and repetitive Calvin Klein models.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Rebecca Gaulin

Santiago Chile
Photo by Rebecca Gaulin

Good thing: Emporio Armani. The collection was tasteful and any woman in the crowd could have worn it. However, I must say, dear Giorgio, that for as much as I think you are a genius, I can’t force myself to like your footballer line, Armani Exchange. I hope that Chileans don’t take you too seriously with those logo t-shirts (especially the sequin one). The women’s outerwear attempted to be more classy (after all, it’s still you, Giorgio, who scrutinizes what gets produced), but then, whoever put together your show lacked creativity in putting together the outfits. It was just so boring to see those empty see-through bags walking down the runway. Was it too much to think about filling them with a newspaper, cellphone, make-up case or even a box of tampax? Armani Exchange’s men looked too similar to the Colcci collection. Actually, when looking at the Colcci models, for a moment I was tempted to think that the slogan of the event, “la revoluciòn de la moda” (the revolution of fashion) was taking place in front of me. Then I stopped and analyzed this thought. No, it was actually the digression of good taste that was going on.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Rebecca Gaulin

Very good thing: the Greenpeace show. Provocative as in typical Greenpeace style, it was a good opportunity to take advantage of a very popular event to create awareness on ecological matters. Famous Chilean TV stars, including Eduardo Fuentes, Javiera Contador and Ariel Levi, walked the runway with oxygen masks, dirt on their faces, wearing Levi jeans and torn Greenpeace t-shirts (some of them even evoking gun-shot wounds with rounded holes supposedly discharging blood). They carried posters with messages highlighting humankind´s tendency to damage our green planet while the screen in the back showed images of icebergs melting, forests burning, earthquakes and tsunamis.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Rebecca Gaulin

Good thing: the show by store Casta y Devota. The first part of the show featured romantic country-side outfits in early 1920s style, worn by models wearing shocking pink wigs and angelic make-up.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Rebecca Gaulin

I was about to give my approval (in the end, I am a big fan of ballerina skirts) when a woman that I later recognized as the singer of the Chilean band Leche came out on the runway and started singing, while on the screen behind her played a video of another woman getting busy doggy style, which I found somewhat extreme for 9 pm. Besides these moments of gratuitous vulgarity, the show that followed was indeed very interesting. Models wearing black lipstick, carrying cigars and champagne bottles walked the runway sipping from their bottles and pretending to be drunken party-friends. If we hadn’t noticed, Casta y Devota reminded us that this is sequin season, and sequins were virtually everywhere. Thumbs up for the sequin glittering jumper and the shirt homage to Michael Jackson.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Rebecca Gaulin

Chile is still a novice to the fashion world and you could tell right away by looking at the models who were walking the runway, all well fed (bully for them). We even saw some bobbies going on, and a fair share of fake ones. A word of warning to all the young girls who were present at the event and who may think that having silicon breasts is alla moda. Let me just make it clear, dear younger ones, that it’s not, and in no runway show in Europe would you see models wearing boobs. A fashion runway cannot risk being confused with a nightclub stage.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Natalie Estay

However, the effort made by this event to advance in an area that is a mystery for most Chileans is definitely appreciable. It would have been better if things were called with their appropriate names, e.g. Armani Exchange and Colcci are certainly not “Prèt-à-Porter” (ready to wear), nor are Patricio Moreno, Max Gallegos and Ruben Campos “Haute Couture” as the program said. I admit having had a shock when I received a press release by the producers that proclaimed the presence of a collection by famous FRENCH designer Armani (for those uninformed, he is ITALIAN). This was enough for me to call them and ask for a correction (and also to straighten up the fact that Emporio Armani is not Haute Couture, as the leaflet I received stated).

Very brief digression: Haute Couture exists ONLY in Paris and is regulated by an institutional organization called Chambre syndicale de la haute couture. In a post-crisis economy where even Cristian Lacroix has to shut down his haute couture business, the least one can do is show respect and honor the work of the few geniuses remaining on track by appreciating the uniqueness of what they do.

Hopefully, by virtue of making mistakes and learning from them, Chile will soon have a Prèt-à-Porter-only event, regulated according to the rules of the fashion calendars, with the glamour, the glitter and the exclusivity of some of the truly best designers in the world.

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