C-13 | Anciela

Anciela is a London based womenswear brand, which was founded in 2018 by designer Jennifer Droguett. Named after her grandparents, Angel and Graciela, Anciela celebrates Colombian folklore and the culture of showing off your most colourful outfit at loud parties full of dancing.

This collection takes inspiration from one of the most infamous cities in the world, Medellin, Droguett’s hometown. The story is a remarkable tale of social change in the slums after civil war, drugs and displacement. “A time of complete crisis and a moment of hope” said Ortiz, the architect who worked on the city strategy.

By modifying urban spaces and co-designing with the community, it was possible to unite people with a common cause. One of the big drivers of change was the integrated mobility system, metro, cable cars and escalators going to the very top of the mountains where otherwise it was impossible to get to. This way the areas started to change, people were given paint and materials to finish their houses. Forging a new identity, integrating spaces, while also creating cultural buildings of international quality.

Here Jennifer Droguett shares an insight into the collection, in her own words.

Anciela is a womenswear label based in London, that celebrates Colombian culture and experimental tailoring. I founded the label in 2019 to pay homage to my heritage. I’m originally from Colombia and Chile and a grew up half of my life in both countries. Anciela gets its name from my grandparents, ANgel and GraCIELA. My work reflects my history, my culture and my own experiences growing up in South American and abroad.

I believe in bringing new narratives to clothing, I think is very important to develop a relationship with the garments we wear. At the end of the day, clothing plays a big part of our identity. I make clothing that has a story, functionality and fun from the fabric to the trims and how to wear it. Every collection has an underlying story inspired by social events that took place in Colombia, I’m hoping to play a part in shifting Colombia’s negative perspective to a joyful one. We want to show the world another face of this country besides narcos and plastic surgery.

The main focus for this season is a series of garments and outfits inspired by the neo-landscape of the slums with a structural take on the history of displacement that took place in the 90’s. I want to pay homage to all the people that suffered the violence from drugs. People that had to become nomads and leave their homes behind. Garments serve a dual purpose and take on a conceptual role with a series of 3d pocket compartments with chunky metallic zippers, that not only create a mountain like silhouette but also pose the
question: if could only take what you’re wearing with you, what would you take? But what if somehow you could take a piece of your land and store your memories within the same piece of clothing?

We produce everything in London, reducing the environmental impact, ensuring good labour standards and delivering beautifully hand-crafted designs that are friendly to our planet. I have a mindful approach towards designing Fashion with sustainability as a starting point.

I believe in creating light-hearted clothing both functional and fun to encourage women to mix bold colours and dynamic silhouettes. I want garments to empower and truly shape the wearer to be their unique self in any situation. 

The collection is a tableau vivant of a landscape photo of the Comuna 13 slum. The composition represents the valley, the mountains, the houses translated into the custom weaves and prints or in the form of an origami step cape made out of banana mesh, as tribute to the iconic escalators, or long ties and adjustable godet inserts, making the garments fit to various sizes and representing the ability to adapt.

Each piece has been carefully handcrafted to create unique silhouettes and every little detail somehow embodies a symbol of the slum. As part of the core values of the brand, sustainability is embraced from the beginning of the design development. I developed custom jacquards with recycled yarn NewLife from ocean plastic waste in collaboration with Textile Designer Alice Timmis. Every season fabric remnants from previous projects and deadstock fabric are being used, as well as natural trims such as coconut and corozo buttons.

Craft is the only way I know how to create. I feel most comfortable when I’m in my studio drawing, draping and playing around with fabrics. I use my work as a way of expression and as a medium to showcase my roots. When I first started out, I used to seek inspiration from things alien to me, and far away. Now I’ve ended up looking within and using the rich experiences of my childhood as an inspiration. I feel that I’ve learnt to channel my own identity and developed a unique aesthetic as a Designer.

I think is vital to preserve the invaluable knowledge that tradition and folk bring to us as a society. Nowadays it’s more important than ever to learn and share our own traditions and culture. I cherish my own background and try to learn from everything that inspires me. I spend a lot of time researching my own culture when developing my work and I’m grateful to be able to pay homage to my incredible culture and the beautiful people that have played an important role in making and preserving it.

With this collection, I want to portray the journey of transformation where the clothes become the story, depicting the process of reinvention and happiness that came with change. By promoting this narrative I want to shift the international perspective of Colombia to a positive and joyful one.

PHOTOGRAPHY

Silvana Trevale
@silvanatrevale

PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANT
Austin Fischer
@austnfischer

STYLING & CREATIVE DIRECTION
Daniela Benaim
@danibenben

MODEL
Carmella Anderson
@carm_anderson

HAIR & MAKE UP
Rebecca Hampson
@rebeccahampsonmakeup 

SHOES
AAA/unbranded
@aaaunbranded

Visit Anciela’s website and follow on Instagram