October 7, 2013 PC’s Favorite Photo Shoot Locations

Biddy and Annie Hurlbut on Canaan Farm in the '70s.

Biddy and Annie Hurlbut on Canaan Farm in the ’70s.

Over Peruvian Connection’s 37 years, we’ve trekked to some magical places, searching for the perfect backdrop to photograph our globally-inspired collections. The first few catalogs were shot in the backyard at Canaan Farm, where the company began. Founders Biddy and Annie, as well as their family and friends, modeled the latest styles. Soon after the catalogs were shot in the parks of Kansas City, in the dusty canyons of Santa Fe, then Mexico, Central America, South America, Europe and the Mediterranean, and the United Kingdom. Photo shoots evolved into more sophisticated productions, taking an expanded roster of talented crew further from home.

Annie & Yfke

Our model with Annie (in typical Turkish attire to beat the 100 degree heat) overlooking the bay in Kekova, Turkey.

One of the most memorable locations was one that was completely unplanned. Intending to shoot in Istanbul, our efforts were thwarted by huge crowds that made it a logistical nightmare.  We scrambled to find a new location, and after 5 hours of travel by plane, car, and water taxi, we finally arrived in a mysterious new place under cover of darkness. We photographed our Resort ’08 catalog on the remote island of Kekova, Turkey, where the ancient ruins of a Lycian city rose from the turquoise water.  The villagers of Kaleköy may have been initially surprised by our eclectic entourage of photographers, stylists, models and equipment but they quickly adopted us during our stay and made us feel right at home. We were especially enamored by their menu of eggplant with fresh-picked basil, local fish, yogurt, warm crusty bread and fruit.
See the video from our photo shoot in Turkey.

Mariachis serenading our model in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Mariachis serenading our model in Oaxaca, Mexico.

The lively culture, welcoming people and local cuisine of the various locations are etched in our memories as much as the gorgeous scenery. The fiestas and flavors of Latin America have enriched many of our catalogs, with shoots all over Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Argentina, and of course, Peru.

In the altiplano near Urubamba, Peru.

In the altiplano near Urubamba, Peru.

Cuzco, Peru is the real birthplace of Peruvian Connection, where Annie Hurlbut visited the markets and first encountered sweaters handknit of luxurious alpaca. Every few years we return to Peru for our photo shoot, where the Andes and the ancient Incan walls set the scene for our newest collection.

Quechua women spinning yarn in the village of Chincheros, Peru.

Quechua women spinning yarn in the village of Chincheros, Peru.

In an effort to dodge the Fall hurricane season in much of the southern US and Mexico, we have ventured to the Mediterranean for many of our Spring catalog shoots. The spectacular scenery, old-world charm, sunny clime, and of course the amazing food have put Italy, Greece and the south of France near the top of our list.

Shooting amidst the grandeur of Italian frescoes.

Shooting amidst the grandeur of Italian frescoes.

Tuscan allee

A Tuscan allée of cypress trees, made famous by scenes in Gladiator.

A model poses precariously on the rocky cliffs of Gallipoli.

A model poses precariously on the rocky cliffs of Gallipoli.

For a closer look behind-the-scenes, check out the videos from our photo shoots.

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September 23, 2013 We’ve Got the Blues

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A look at our beautiful blues.

Literally.  We’ve got the blues throughout our Fall and Winter collections—from pale ice and steel blues to vibrant sapphire and true blue.  Not only is blue one of the most universally flattering shades, but it also promotes feelings of calmness and confidence (it’s no coincidence that blue is the corporate business-suit color).  With all it has going for it, it’s no wonder that blue was chosen as one of the colors in the Pantone Fashion Color Report for Fall/Winter 2013.

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A glimpse of the Pantone Fashion Color Report for Fall/Winter 2013. Image courtesy of pantone.com

Every season, around the time of New York Fashion Week, the Pantone Fashion Color Report is released, giving a detailed overview of designers’ use of color in their upcoming collections and how these colors work together.  Click here to see the latest Fashion Color Report! What started as a small company manufacturing cosmetic color cards in the early 60’s, Pantone has become one of the highest authorities on color—influencing color trends and color combinations all across the fashion world.  After being named one of the color trends of the season, the color blue exploded on design boards, runways and sales racks.  Although many shades of blue are a hot commodity this season, the Pantone Report specifically named Mykonos Blue—a rich, classic shade of blue—as the shade.

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Mykonos Blue Pantone Color Swatch and our Miramar Jacket

At Peruvian Connection, every season begins with the selection of colors, which we have developed exclusively for our collections.  The inspiration for colors is far-reaching—from seat belts (yes, seat belts!) to feathers, leaves and flowers.  Most of our colors may be selected before the Pantone Fashion Color Report is released, but that’s not to say our use of color isn’t influenced by the Report (because it is—just look at all our blues!).  So, if you’re looking to add some trendy color to your wardrobe, while keeping it classy and cool, take a look at our Winter Blues Collection!

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September 9, 2013 Artisan Knitters of the Andes

handknitting

A knitter switches colors as she crafts an intricate handknit pullover.

Countless hours and often a lifetime of experience go into the creation of our art knits. Only a handful of knitters in the world have the skill to transform the intricate and original designs we come up with into exquisite wearable art.

knitter in hat

Artisan at work.

The Andean knitters who knit our designs are lifelong artisans, like their mothers and grandmothers before them. Unlike factory employment, hand knitting blends in beautifully with daily life in the Andes. Skilled hand knitters can earn an income as they travel on a train or bus, sell in the marketplace, take a break from harvesting a crop, or watch over their children at home.

Kitzbuhel design

Kitzbühel Tunic: as a design sketch, and the finished product.

It is a brilliant collaboration when these skilled knitters in Peru team with our in-house designers. The first prototypes are developed in our collection colors. Once the initial design concepts are refined, it may take a knitter several weeks to finish one of the more elaborate designs. At times the hand knitters are managing four different stitches at a time, keeping track of multiple yarns streaming down in tiny bobbins.

Huari design

Huari Cardigan design and final piece.

The hand knitters work with fine-gauge needles, changing colors and stitches several times each row. Some of our sweaters use dozens of colors – one best seller had over 70. Once the knitting is complete, there are hundreds of strands of yarn dangling inside of the garment that must be worked back into the fabric or carefully tied off.

Red Mesa

The inside of Kaffe Fassett’s Red Mesa Vest, revealing the careful finishing of dozens of yarns.

Almost as daunting as hand knitting, many of our art knits and collectibles are hand framed or hand loomed. While this is done on a machine, it is an extremely complicated manual process involving no automation.

When you choose an art knit, not only are you choosing a beautiful piece of clothing, you are helping to preserve a remarkable and ancient cultural tradition. Click to browse our current art knit collection.

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September 5, 2013 Making It Our Own: Menswear in Women’s Fashion

The female face of Yves Saint Laurent's menswear line.

The female face of Yves Saint Laurent’s menswear line.

The term “menswear” is nearly devoid of meaning these days, as women have deftly made it their own over the past century.  Long gone are the days when women were expected to only wear constrictive corsets, heavy underskirts and long elegant dresses.  Now we wear suits, pinstripes, plaid shirts and skinny jeans without abandon.  Women have even been the face of couture menswear lines.  Of course, this drastic shift didn’t happen overnight, or without struggle….

Workers having lunch in typical shirtwaist attire, circa 1910.

Workers having lunch in typical shirtwaist attire, circa 1910.

World War I catalyzed major shifts towards women’s liberation—not the least of which included fashion.  Before this time, social customs were very strict regarding women’s clothing.  Ankle-length dresses, overly inhibitive underskirts and painfully tight corsets were a must.  As more women entered the workforce during the war though, they demanded less restrictive, more practical attire.  Although women continued to wear skirts, their clothing became decidedly more masculine, adopting tailored suit jackets and shirtwaists.

Young women donning "sportswear", circa 1924.

Young women donning “sportswear”, circa 1924.

With post-war optimism spreading, a booming stock market and less restrictive social customs, the 1920’s set the stage for the most dramatic transformation in women’s fashion.  Women were flooding the workforce and had gained the right to vote.  Fashion trends followed suit (literally!), becoming more masculine, more practical and, for the first time, sporty.  Led by “flappers,” corsets were completely abandoned in favor of looser clothing that emphasized a straighter, more boyish figure (flattened bust, loose waist).

Coco Chanel's rebellious menswear look in the 1920's.

Coco Chanel’s rebellious menswear look in the 1920′s.

One of the most influential fashion icons of the 20’s (and to this day!) was Coco Chanel.  She rebelliously dismissed the feminine styling of her day and embraced an androgynous style which continues to influence contemporary fashion.  She may be famous for her luxury fragrances and haute couture dresses now, but she was one of the first women in history to wear trousers! She paved the way for menswear-inspired clothing, dexterously designing elegant suits, tweeded blazers and simple, yet powerful everyday-wear for women. Throughout the 30’s, Hollywood continued the sky-rocketing popularity of menswear for women with such actresses as Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn.

Image courtesy of "Make and Mend for Victory" booklet, at Cargo Cult Craft.

Image courtesy of “Make and Mend for Victory” booklet, at Cargo Cult Craft. 

During WWII, “fashion” took a back-burner and menswear became women’s clothing out of necessity.  With post-Depression-era sensibilities and strict rationing of raw materials, women were encouraged to “Make Do and Mend,” often remaking mens clothing into their own (since the men were away at war).  As a result, suits became even more popular and women’s fashion absorbed the use of classic menswear fabric and patterns.  Military styling also became fashionable during this era, with the use of epaulets and large bellows pockets, as witnessed with cropped “Eisenhower Jackets” that have made a resurgence in recent years.  At Peruvian Connection, we love the edgy juxtaposition of military details on an elegant, “feminine” garment.

YSL's "smoking jacket", circa 1966.

YSL’s “smoking jacket”, circa 1966.

Yves Saint Laurent took menswear-inspired styling to new (sexier) heights with his “Smoking” Tuxedo Jacket.  Created in 1966, his Tuxedo Jacket was hailed as the alternative to the Little Black Dress.  As he said himself, “For women, the tuxedo is an indispensable outfit, which they feel comfortable with, so they can be who they are. This is style, not fashion. Fads come and go, style is forever.” To up the sensual, womanly appeal, he encouraged women to wear only their bra underneath–a trend that seems to be taking off in recent years!  Undoubtedly, the Tuxedo continues to be an “indispensable outfit” for women, riddling runways, filling magazines and inspiring designers all across the world.  Just check out our Kelston Blazer!

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Diane Keaton in "Annie Hall," 1977. Diane Keaton in “Annie Hall,” 1977. Image courtesy of IMDB.

Although Coco Chanel, Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn rocked trousers before the 30’s, it really wasn’t until the 70’s that women commonly started wearing pants (meaning it was no longer rebellious!).  In fact, it wasn’t until 1972 that the United States banned school dress codes that required girls to wear dresses!

And then came “Annie Hall.”  No one can deny the indelible print left by Diane Keaton’s menswear-clad character on the fashion world.  With her cool, casual menswear styling, she helped popularize the Bowler Hat, vests, wide ties and button-up shirts on women—a look that is still popular to this day!

Classic 80's: graphic prints and bold, in-your-face shoulders.

Classic 80′s: graphic prints and bold, in-your-face shoulders. Image courtesy of totally80s

Another look that has yet to be forgotten: the iconic shoulder pads of the 80’s.  They may seem laughable now, but, surprisingly enough, shoulder pads were associated with “power dressing”—a way for women in the workforce to show that they were equals to men.  This time women’s fashion wasn’t borrowing from menswear per say, rather we were borrowing the look of their broad shoulders!

Making menswear our own. Image courtesy of practicalenrichment.com.

Making menswear our own. Image courtesy of practicalenrichment.com.

These days, “menswear” is everywhere in women’s fashion—from sculptural shoulders, buttoning vests, plaid patterns, classic fedoras and military trench coats to slouchy boyfriend jeans and suit sets.  But, we’ve made it our own—cinching in waists, adding ribbons or lace, brightening colors and softening fabrics!  Check out some of our favorite menswear-inspired pieces.

 

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