Editor’s Note: This is the first post in a 3-part series.
Last week, Medellin hosted Colombiamoda 2013, the country’s Fashion Week, which continues to grow in size and scope each year.
Most of the activities and runway shows for Colombiamoda actually take place over the course of just three days (Tuesday to Thursday).
For those in the fashion and modeling industries, it’s one of the biggest events of the year.
He was a textiles buyer, and an incredibly friendly and charismatic one at that.
Not only did he get me excited about attending Colombiamoda like it was my first time, he offered to help get myself, Richard (UK) and Ben (Canada) free passes, as well as seats to the Tarrao Underwear show which was happening several times a day.
With a renewed sense of enthusiasm, and an interest in photographing Colombia’s top models, I made my way to Plaza Mayor last Wednesday afternoon.
At 1:30 PM, I met up with Ben and Richard in the registration area. They were already in touch with Vivek, but he couldn’t secure the free passes.
[In the future, I will plan ahead and apply for a press pass, as I should’ve been doing all along.]
We were all prepared to pay 180,000 pesos ($95) for a ticket, which turned out to be incorrect. That’s the door price for Colombians.
International visitors paid just 90,000 pesos ($48), a humble 10,000 peso increase over 2011’s rates.
Once we had our badges (I was an International Buyer from Miami), we made our way over to the entrance.
Our first stop was to meet up with Vivek in the food court behind the exhibition hall.
Here, various local restaurants pay to have a presence, and serve food to the hungry masses. Another, permanent food stall section, features typical paisa fast food.
Vivek appeared out of nowhere, and we all thanked him for offering to help us out.
He told us to meet back at the Tarrao Underwear tent around 3:30 PM, where he’d arrange seats for us.
In the meantime, we began walking through the various exhibition halls, perusing the new clothing lines on display.
On a patio outside one of the halls, I noticed a TV crew. I stepped outside to see Mariana Davalos, one half of the Davalos twins, giving an interview.
Almost as soon as she finished her interview, and walked back inside, I saw Sara Uribe Cadavid appear, along with several other male and female designers.
Sara is a popular model from Medellin, who dreams of becoming a TV host. She’s currently dating Daniel Calderon, a vallenato singer.
Last Fall, she rose to greater prominence after winning a Colombian realty TV show, “Protagonistas de Nuestra Tele” (Stars of Our Television).
Her name has remained in the headlines due to a semi-nude commercial she shot, as well as more recently, a controversy suggesting she has worked as a prepago (prostitute) in the past.
I couldn’t resist taking a few photos with the models. Ok, A LOT of photos with the models. It seemed each one we encountered was prettier than the last.
And it wasn’t just the models who were attractive. Fashion students and fashionistas from all around Medellin and Colombia flock to Colombiamoda.
There was a jaw-dropping number of beautiful women walking around.
The Tarrao Underwear Show
At 3:30 PM, Ben and I returned to the Tarrao tent and met up with Vivek, who had already cleared it with security to allow us in.
Our two seats were in the back corner of the tent, but it didn’t matter. We were on the inside, waiting to watch some of Colombia’s top models strut their stuff on the runway.
We’d lost track of Richard much earlier. He was chatting up girls left and right, despite not knowing any Spanish, and we wanted to give him his space.
The Tarrao show alternated between musical performances by Chelo, a model/singer, and a Pitbull lookalike, and runway walks by the male and female models.
Attending this show (twice) was the highlight of my Colombiamoda, therefore I’ll be dedicating a separate post to what was going on inside the tent.
Attending the Isabel Henao Runway Show
After the show, we met up with Vivek in the ProExport lounge on the mezzanine level, where we had a chance to thank him again, and unwind.
There, he surprised Ben and I with tickets to two runway shows. These tickets aren’t easy to come by, but he’d managed to get them, and pass them off to us!
It was 6:30 PM, and Ben’s show started at 7 PM, so he had to leave right away. My show, by Colombian designer Isabel Henao, didn’t start until 9 PM, so I decided to head back to my apartment for a shower.
Of course it was rush hour, so I spent 30 minutes in traffic, but it still felt good to wash up and get something to eat before turning around and heading back to Plaza Mayor.
I arrived around 8:30 PM, and there was already a line of people waiting for the show.
I took a place in line, but it’d be another hour and a half before the first model would walk down the runway.
What surprised me most was despite arriving early enough to get a good spot in line, once we made it into the building, and down the escalators, there were tons of people already inside the designated room.
I could’ve saved myself waiting in line, and it wouldn’t have mattered.
The first two rows of seats were reserved, and then it was bleachers. I took a seat near the top, and waited for my first show to begin.
To Colombiamoda’s credit, or maybe it’s Plaza Mayor, there was Wi-Fi coverage throughout the event, which made sharing pics and video easy.
As Vivek warned me, the show would last no more than about 15 minutes. And he was right.
I spent most of the time trying to get photos and video, but it was difficult from my vantage point, especially with the bright lights on the models and runway itself.
The ideal position was at the very end of the runway, which was of course staked out by a few dozen professional photographers and cameramen.
By the time the show ended, I was absolutely exhausted. I returned to my apartment to rest up for day two.
My day two was technically the third and final day of Colombiamoda. This time, I met up with Ryan Goes Abroad at registration, and gave him the grand tour.
By mid-afternoon, we were joined by Ben who was back for more, and another reader, Jeremy, who blogs at This Gringo Travels.
Jeremy was the serious photographer among us, packing a DSLR and several lens. He’d been there the day before as well, but had only see a small part of the total exhibition space.
Together, we began walking through the exhibits again.
I don’t watch a lot of Colombian TV, but any time I saw video cameras, I knew someone noteworthy was giving an interview.
When in doubt, ask one of the Colombians around you. After asking one guy for the names of the people in the photo above, he then asked me to take a picture of him with Maria Clara.
She looks like the girl next door, because she’s promoting a brand, but this Soho video will have you seeing her in a whole new light.
As for Frankie Ramos, I couldn’t get over his yellow tropical pants. He might be the only man on Earth able to get away with wearing those.
Ryan left about a quarter past 5, but Jeremy, Ben and I wanted to stick around a little longer. And I’m glad we did.
Around 5:30 PM, we were over by the Tarrao Underwear tent again. We were talking to the guy who does the video of the show. He spoke fluent English, and said it’d be easy to get us in so we could get better pictures.
He then proceeded to tell security it was OK to allow the three of us inside for the final performance of Colombiamoda.
Again, I had so much fun in that tent, I’m going to save the experience for a separate post.
Once the show let out, we hung out for a little bit longer to hear El Combo de las Estrellas perform live.
In the outdoor section in front of the exhibition hall, there was still a lively scene of people eating, drinking, and hanging out.
The models were also making their exit, and we spotted Sara Uribe again.
I knew the night was young, and there were going to be a lot of parties going on around town, but I didn’t have the energy. I was wiped out by that point, and took a taxi home.
The Modern Art Museum was lit up, and as I walked by it, I recognized my dentist who was heading inside.
The museum was hosting one of the last runway shows of Colombiamoda 2013.