March 17, 2010 Through the Grapevine

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March is a time for dusting out closets and heralding the first glimpses of spring sunshine. In Peru, it’s the time of the annual grape harvest. Every year, the southern Peruvian city of Ica hosts the traditional International Vintage Festival (Fiesta de la Vendimia), celebrating an important agricultural gem, the grapevine. The abundance of grapes in Ica is especially celebratory because the greenery of local vineyards stretches across hundreds of acres of once desolate desert. The first vines were brought by the Stills_05_116 Spanish centuries ago and has turned a bone-dry desert into fertile land. The whole city participates in the festivities along with an estimated 200,000 tourists who flock to Ica for the majestic celebration.

The Vintage Festival is kicked off with a colorful parade, where folk dancers and traditional music invigorate the merriment. During the parade, the people of Ica crown their Queen of the Vintage Festival. The Queen will then ceremoniously tread through a grape-filled vat to extract the sweet juice, which will eventually be fermented into either wine or pisco. Pisco is a clear distilled grape brandy made from the quebranta grapes grown in the fertile Ica valley. To partake in the festivities at your home, try serving up the national drink of Peru, the  
Pisco sour Pisco Sour (see recipe in our Fiestas Patrias blog). Made from simple sugar syrup, lime juice, pisco and frothy egg whites, the tangy Pisco Sour is sure to brighten any day.

During the week-long Vintage Festival, the streets of Ica are filled with fairs, floats, competitions and mouth-watering local sweets. Tejas, a delicious confection made from pecans or candied fruits, filled with caramel and then coated with sugary icing, are a traditional favorite during this time. Locals are also known to host parties where guests dance the traditional Afro-Peruvian festejo, which celebrates Peruvian Independence. Although the celebration formally ends March 15th, these festive vines will continue to inspire remarkable pieces such as our Vendage Cardigan and Grapevine Skirt, as well as out Tendrils Pima T-Shirt.

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March 10, 2010 Explore Santa Fe’s Spectacular Textile Treasures

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The Textile Museum in Washington, D.C. is arranging a wonderful educational travel program, Santa Fe: Historic and Contemporary Treasures of the Southwest and Beyond. From May 19 – 23, join Maryclaire Ramsey, CEO of The Textile Museum, for an exclusive curator and director-led, behind-the-scenes tour of one of the world’s most fascinating cities.

Santa Fe is a crossroads of American Indian, Spanish Colonial and other influences, and was designated a UNESCO Creative City in 2005. Within this small city are more than a dozen museums, hundreds of galleries and excellent restaurants and shops.


Under the guidance of a world renowned textile expert, Susan Brown McGreevy, travelers will have access 440px-Navajo_blanket to the exquisite collections of the Indian Arts Research Center, the Wheelwright Museum and the Museum of International Folk Art, as well as several private collections and artist studios. Participants will also have an opportunity to engage in lively discussions with museum directors and curators, gallery owners, collectors, contemporary weavers and textile artists at private receptions. Visits to the Spanish Colonial village of Chimayó, as well as Santa Fe’s culturally vibrant Canyon Road area and Railyard District will also be included.


Peruvian Connection will host a special private reception at our Santa Fe store, an easy walk from the hotel.

See the Textile Museum’s brochure for full details. Please note that space is very limited for this tour and is on a first-come, first-serve basis and is for Textile Museum members at the Supporter level ($250) and above only. To become a member or to upgrade your membership, call (202) 667-0441, ext. 17 or visit the Textile Museum online.

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March 1, 2010 Caviar, Couture, and Peruvian Connection

Caviar affair Peruvian Connection has just been featured in the Winter 2010 edition of Caviar Affair, an über-tony quarterly magazine dedicated to the lifestyles of the rich and famous. With articles on decadent culinary experiences, bespoke travel and opulent style, the magazine brings the best the world has to offer to those with discriminating tastes and boundless budgets.

The article itself focuses on PC’s passion for preserving Peru’s treasured textile traditions, its commitment to fair trade practices, and, of course, the collections themselves—from the intricate designs and luxury fabrics to the global-chic, old-world-meets-modern-world aesthetic that has been Peruvian Connection’s signature style for more than 30 years.

 

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February 25, 2010 Blooming Inspirations

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Spring is here…at Peruvian Connection at least. Although the snow is falling and winter is still calling, warm up your wardrobe with our latest spring selections. We traveled back in time and across oceans to bring you an inspirational palette of ethnic textiles. From Tajikistan embroidered bridal veils and traditional Mexican pottery to antique textiles from India, discover a cultural feast of prints.

For centuries, India has been at the heart of textile traditions, renowned for their brilliant use of color, ingenious embroidery techniques, and artistic patterns. This season, our designers were particularly inspired by the ancient textiles of Gujarat, India. Once the home of peace leader Mahatma Gandhi, Gujarat is now the economic center of India, representing 25% of the country’s textile production.

Both our Ocean Tide Cardigan and our Gujarat Cardigan were inspired by a Gujarati antique block printed head covering, known as "Odhani". Block printing is an ancient technique that was used more than 4,000 years ago. It involves cutting a pattern out of a block, usually wood or tile, which is then used as a "stamp" to transfer the cut-out design.

Odhani Our Spice Route Dress melds two distinct cultural traditions: Gujarati and Irish. The jacquard for this dress was inspired by an ancient textile from Gujarat that was block printed and then resist and mordant-dyed. Resist dyeing methods are used to "resist" or prevent the dye from reaching all the cloth, creating a pattern and ground. The most common resisting agent is wax, which is used in batik-prints. Mordant is a substance used to set dyes, resulting in a complex shading or intensification of color. Interestingly, this ripe Gujarati pattern is then paired with a crochet neckline inspired by traditional Irish Crochet.

Another ancient textile hub, Turkey, provided the artistry for our gorgeous Sardis Cardigan. This design is inspired by a Turkish plate made in the Turkish plate Ottoman reign of Suleiman the Magnificent in the early 16th Century.  The decorations are commonly known in Turkish as "saz leaf and rosette style," which translates "reed leaf and rose."

Let’s travel now to the gorgeous coasts of Uzbekistan, where our designers discovered the majesty of ethnic Russian textiles. Once considered part of the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan has managed to preserve the cultural traditions of the Uzbek nomads, who still represent a large portion of the country’s population. The jacquard for our Tashkent Top and Chintz Knit Coat was inspired by a Russian printed cotton cloth from the 2nd quarter of the 20th Century, which was used in Uzbekistan to back tribal textiles.

Our globally inspired prints carry cultural customs, ethnic ties, and ancient legacies. We take you across oceans and centuries to fill your closet with histories and traditions. We have only elaborated on a handful of inspirations here, but our catalog is filled with cultural heritage. If you ever want to know more about the story behind your garment, please feel free to ask! We hope you will cherish these unique pieces and carry forth their legacies for years to come.

–Amanda Hart

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February 11, 2010 H.E.L.P. Makes Dreams a Reality for Orphans in Malawi

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Over one million children in Malawi are without a parent, a home, and an education. Peruvian Connection has joined the efforts of H.E.L.P, a nonprofit organization, to make it possible for these children to make their dreams a reality, by providing Hope, Education, Love and Protection. Malawi is one of the most poverty stricken countries in the world, with the majority of its 12 million inhabitants living well below the poverty line. Malawi is currently ranked 164 out of 177 on the Human Development Index, due to the devastating lack of clean, safe water, primary health care, primary education, and sustainable food (meaning it’s the 7th poorest country in the world).

The H.E.L.P organization was founded in 2006 by Jillian Wolstein and her family with the ultimate vision of carrying out their mission on a global level. Currently, H.E.L.P is focusing their efforts on the destitute community of Malawi with projects that include Nutritional Education, Life Skills Class, Libraries, Day Care, Drama Club, Water Hyacinth, Providing clean, safe water, Wound Care Clinic, Malaria Nets, andSpring10_39A-0091_highres much more. It is through donations and sales of merchandise that H.E.L.P is able to collect the much needed funds for these humanitarian projects. Sales of our Fetish Bead Necklaces, Malawi Wood Bangles and Fetish Bead Bracelets will directly fund these aims. 100% of the funds collected by H.E.L.P will go to direct services. Together we can all continue to make a difference in the lives of children faced with a suffocating barrage of daily challenges. 

One of the most foundational feats H.E.L.P has achieved is the construction of a full primary school and health clinic. The traditional open-aired rural school in the Balaka district of Malawi was transformed into a well-equipped primary school with eight classrooms, seven teachers housing units and latrines. Originally, the Nanthomba Primary School nurtured 320 students, but thanks to generous donations and support, this number has risen to over 750 students. H.E.L.P provides training for teachers, which has contributed to the rising educational standards for the area. In the future, this school will have the resources needed to allow H.E.L.P to provide a nutritious breakfast to students every morning, including a generator, fruit orchard, livestock and storage facilities. H.E.L.P is also hoping to build another secondary school in the near future. These goals will be achieved if we work together in the effort to bring hope and education to Malawi children.

The Wound Care Clinic, which was also established in 2006, serves the teachers, students and even the local communities. The clinic is currently able to treat wounds, infections, illnesses and diagnose urgent needs that will require hospitalization. H.E.L.P has set goals to construct a fully-equipped healthcare clinic and maternity wing that will provide vital medical care. Without this clinic, the closest health care facility is 3-4 hours away by car. This new maternity wing will help reduce the astounding maternal death rate by providing a safe, healthy delivery. Malawi has the third highest maternal death rate in the world. Recent statistics show that 1, 120 mothers and 4, 200 babies die for every 100,000 births. 

This new healthcare development will also serve as an approved HIV/AIDS testing and treatment site, which has increasingly ravaged African communities over the last couple decades. Currently, over 14% of the Malawi population is living with HIV/AIDS, which includes 641,000 children (of which 550,000 are orphans) and 500,000 adults. For more detailed information about the heath-care services that will be provided, please visit www.helpchildren.org. With each donation, they are one step closer to opening the new facility and reducing these heart-breaking figures of death and disease.

Spring10_38B-0104_lowres In an effort to raise support and awareness of this charismatic foundation, Peruvian Connection is offering a selection of H.E.L.P products, including the Fetish Bead Necklace and Fetish Bead Bracelet. These products use hand-crafted beads that have been collected from the African trade markets. Culturally, African beads are used as repositories of ancestral wisdom and tradition. Each bead is not only unique, but contains a piece of African history. We are also offering the Malawi Wood Bangles, which are entirely hand-carved by African master carvers. 100% of the proceeds collected by the H.E.L.P foundation will be directed towards education, healthcare and relief in Malawi.

Please join Peruvian Connection and the H.E.L.P foundation in the journey to spread Hope, Education, Love and Protection to the children of Malawi. If you would like to donate to the cause directly, please visit www.helpchildren.org. Little contributions will bring big changes: $5 will buy a life-saving mosquito-net to protect against malaria, $20 will buy three baby blankets and $50 will purchase much-needed school supplies for 25 local village children. Your generosity and support will help now and future generations for years to come.

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