Johanna Ortiz

Designer

| Cali, Colombia

If emojis could pledge brand loyalty, the salsa-dancing “lady in red” would surely call “dibs” on Johanna Ortiz. Granted, the situation is far-fetched, but our hunch isn’t—after all, the playful and party-ready icon is sort of what Ortiz is all about. The Colombian designer, whose super fans include superwomen like Queen Bey and SJP, has become synonymous with a “good time”— now, whether that means flaunting balloon sleeves at a cocktail party or bow-bedecked men’s shirting at the office, she’ll leave up to you. The former is what caught the eye of Moda Operandi’s Lauren Santo Domingo, who, after swooning over Ortiz’s exuberant gowns on Instagram, put the label on M.O. almost immediately. You see, it’s rare to find a designer who can capture the dynamism of women today; and yet, Johanna Ortiz does it seamlessly— poetically balancing the light-hearted and the sensual; romance and liberation. Take, for example, her most recent Resort ’18 collection, a smattering of girlish eyelet gowns next to funky silk pajama suits with personalities as layered as the inspiring women who’ll wear them. Come to think of it, the designer, herself is no exception—Ortiz makes all of her clothing in Colombia where she works with local women to support their communities. A superwoman who celebrates all of us superwomen… where can we pledge allegiance? Here, she sits down with CITIPHILE to reveal her little black book on Colombia.

NEIGHBORHOOD STANDBY: In Cali, it’s El Falso Olivo (MAP IT); in Cartagena, it’s La Vitrola (MAP IT) for the fish of the day cooked in plantain leafs and some arroz con coco.

COFFEE OR TEA: Colombian coffee from Juan Valdez (MAP IT).

ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANT: Pajares Salinas in Bogotá (MAP IT)— I went every time with my parents when I got good grades and it’s been my favorite ever since! Order the huevos estrellados (fried eggs with fried potatoes and Ibérico ham).

COCKTAIL DE LA NUIT: A dry martini, shaken, not stirred from Harry’s Bar in Bogotá (MAP IT).

WHERE TO BRING OUT-OF-TOWNERS: When in Bogotá, you need to go to Andrés Carne de Res (MAP IT)— great food, drinks and crowd.

TO STAY: Bogotá Casa Medina (MAP IT, BOOK IT) which is now operated by The Four Seasons. It has been declared a cultural interest by the Colombian government; the beautiful building is from 1945 with beamed ceilings and hand-crafted floors, and it is the home of many Colombian art pieces.

BEST PEOPLE WATCHING: Cali, my hometown, is diversity at its best! It’s a happy, salsa-dancing town! I love a place in midtown called El Habanero (MAP IT), but if we are aiming for a long night, we would go out to Chango that is located in the small town near Cali, Juanchito (MAP IT).

HEALTHY STAPLE: Masa in Bogotá (MAP IT); I love their quinoa arepas.

GUILTY PLEASURE: Brownies made with dátiles instead of starch (they are called “chocolov”) and cappuccinos from Juan Valdez.

COLOMBIA’S BEST-KEPT SECRET: We are all friendly people with tons of energy. Also, our typical drink, “aguardiente” (a Colombian liqueur).

TO SEE AND BE SEEN: Somewhere cool that the locals go is known as, “The Golden Mile.” It is one street that has the best restaurants in the city: La Brasserie (MAP IT), Primi (MAP IT), Casa (MAP IT), Di Lucca (MAP IT) and, the latest addition, Osaka (MAP IT)— my favorite sushi in Bogotá.

TO RELAX AND UNWIND: The nice big lake Calima— famous for kite surfing! My parents have a chalet there where I learned to do water sports as a child. It has a great climate: the mornings feel like spring and the nights feel like fall.

CLOSET CHECK: My style is effortless; feminine; boho with a sexy twist. In my wardrobe, everything has to be comfortable. I love to look for original, handcrafted pieces found in the streets of Cartagena—everything from earrings to mochilas and straw clutches. Calle las Bóvedas has a great variety (including the best Panama hats). 

BEST GIFTS: Artesanías de Colombia; St Dom (MAP IT) and Casa Chiqui (MAP IT) in Cartagena.

ULTIMATE CALI MOMENT: Every day, I have an “only in Colombia” moment! CP

Johanna’s Colombia

From L to R: First Row: Casa Medina; Fashion from St Dom; Johanna Ortiz; Bogotá. Second Row: Johanna Ortiz; Casa Medina; Colombian coffee; fashion from Casa Chiqui.

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