July 24, 2013 A Celebration of LBDs

The Little Black Dress (LBD) is a fashion staple that every woman should have in her closet. LBDs come in every shape and fabric, making them the perfect foil for year-round style statements, and now the centerpiece of a fashion exhibit in Paris.

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“Little Black Dress,” is a show organized by the Savannah College of Art and Design and curated by Andrè Leon Talley, former editor for U.S. Vogue, at the Mona Bismarck American Center for Art & Culture in Paris. The exhibit is on display from now through September 22 and highlights the versatility and timeless appeal of the LBD. “Little Black Dress” features approximately 50 garments from a canon of modern fashion designers, including Vera Wang, Marc Jacobs, Riccardo Tisci, and Oscar de la Renta, as well as pieces worn by those on the International Best-Dressed List.

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Caroline de Maigret, 2001 Peruvian Connection model, attending the debut of the Little Black Dress exhibit at the Mona BIsmark American Center for Art & Culture in Paris. Photo by VOGUE.

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Peruvian Connection Spring 2001 cover featuring CHANEL muse and music producer, Caroline de Maigret.

The debut of the “Little Black Dress” show during couture week in Paris this month drew numerous notable designers and attendees, including CHANEL muse and music producer, Caroline de Maigret.  Caroline was a model for Peruvian Connection in our Spring 2001 catalog and has walked the catwalks for design houses like CHANEL, Balenciaga and Marc Jacobs.

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photos by Forbes.com

The evolution of the LBD across social and fashion history through the 20th and 21st centuries is a visual treat worth seeing. Visit www.monabismarck.org to find exhibit days and times.

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July 11, 2013 The Huipil, tunic of Mesoamerica

A Huipil (pronounced wee-peel) is the traditional garment worn by the indigenous women of Mexico and Central America. It is a loose-fitting tunic, made from rectangular pieces of fabric joined together, with an opening for the head, and often with open sides. Huipiles are usually woven of cotton on a backstrap loom, heavily decorated with designs woven into the fabric, then further ornamented with embroidery, ribbons, lace and even feathers.  Decorative elements are often arranged in striped bands. The style of the huipil indicates the woman’s ethnicity and community and the decorative elements can signify history, cultural identity, or something personal about the wearer.

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A Guatemalan woman in a huipil embroidering a belt.

Each village has a distinctive style, and the huipiles of Chiapas, Mexico, the location of our Fall photo shoot, are rich in symbolism with images of gods, flowers, frogs and other mythological influences. Other Chiapan huipiles are made of white cotton ornamented in feathers, sewn with colorful thread. These feathered huipiles are used for weddings, believed that they ensure a good marriage.

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Huipiles in the Museo de Arte Popular in Mexico City. photo: Thelmadatter

The making of traditional huipiles is an important cultural and economic activity, especially where most women wear traditional clothing. Young women learn techniques and designs from their mothers and grandmothers. The weaving is an important source of income in many agricultural communities. While they design and weave household items such as tablecloths and other items of clothing, the most popular and most valued remains the huipil.

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Floral and stripe huipil from Patzún, Guatemala.

It is a ritual act when a woman puts on her huipil, especially a ceremonial one. She becomes the center of a symbolic world as her head passes through the neck opening. With her arms, she forms a cross and is surrounded by myth as between heaven and the underworld.

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Maya woman in Chichicastenango, Guatemala on All Saint's Day.

Ceremonial huipiles are the most elaborate and are reserved for special occasions, burials, for women of high rank, and even to dress the statues of saints. In a number of indigenous communities, an extravagant huipil is made for a woman’s wedding, then carefully stored to be used for her funeral.

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An overdyed ceremonial huipil from Chichicastenango, Guatemala

Several of our Fall items were inspired by huipiles:

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Lucia Pinafore, Huipil Studio Tunic, Salinas Tunic-Dress

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July 9, 2013 Into the Wild Blue Yonder

Peruvian Connection’s designers got the blues this past weekend when they participated in an indigo dyeing workshop in Kansas City. Taught by renowned fiber and textile artist Neil Goss, they learned the techniques of dyeing with natural indigo, using native Kansas sumac leaves as a mordant.

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Sumac leaves to be used as a a mordant for indigo dyeing.

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Soaking damask napkins dyed with indigo.

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Neil Goss tests the indigo dye bath.

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Mixing indigo dye solution and mordant.
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Tabbetha's indigo scarf

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Finished indigo projects drying on the line.

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July 2, 2013 A Beautiful July Day at PC Headquarters

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June 13, 2013 From Peru: Inti Raymi

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The stage at Saqsaywaman for the ceremony.

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El Inca (King) being paraded around.

Every year on the 24th of June, thousands of people gather in Cusco for Inti Raymi, the Festival of the Sun.

Before the Spanish conquest of the Incan Empire, the Incas celebrated Inti Raymi in Huacaypata, what is now the Plaza de Armas of Cusco.  This ancient ceremony was carried out each year coinciding with the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year when the sun is furthest from Earth.  The Incas gathered together from each of the four suyos (sides) of Tawantinsuyo (territory of the Incan Empire) to invoke the Sun God to return closer.  The culmination of the ceremony was making an offering to the Sun deity; the Incas always found the plumpest, youngest, blackest llama to sacrifice to the Sun, asking for in return that the Sun bring good harvest and protection against hunger and famine.

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La Qolla (Queen).

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Jungle people dancing in celebration.

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Inti Raymi at Saqsaywaman.

After Spanish conquest, in the 16th Century, the Spaniards banned the celebration of Inti Raymi because of its Pagan nature.  Nearly four centuries later, in 1944, Inti Raymi was resurrected in theatrical form.  The celebration nowadays occurs in three acts.  The opening act is at Q’orikancha, the Incan temple.  This is followed by the second act in the Plaza de Armas.  The third and final act, concluding the nine hour celebration, is at Saqsaywaman, the ancient fortress just outside the city.

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El Inca (King).

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Dancing in celebration.

Inti Raymi is a living testament of the rich and endless culture that still survives in this part of the world.  Inti Raymi is also known as el Dia del Cusco, Cusco Day.  It is one of the biggest celebrations in all of South America, and it is by far the biggest celebration in Cusco.  Every 24th of June, thousands of spectators, tourists and locals alike, come to Cusco just for this.

-Kezia Huseman

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