Voz celebrated its first New York Fashion Week by showing off its latest collection of hand-woven wool, baby alpaca and llama shawls, ponchos, tunics, dresses and coats. The Chile-based fair trade company works with Mapuche women artisans who practice traditional weaving methods to create designs that are attractive to a contemporary audience. For its NYFW debut, the company expanded its list of materials to include raw silk and silk chiffon and featured jewelry by Mikuti.

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Voz’s Fall/Winter 2013 collection was heavily influenced by founder Jasmine Aarons’ work with indigenous Mapuche women in Chile. Inspired by traditional weaving techniques and patterns, Aarons sought to find a way to unite a deep respect for Mapuche culture with contemporary design. She explained, “In this show we’re finally realizing our vision of bringing indigenous ceremony, crafting and textiles to international, contemporary forefronts, connecting large markets of the fashion world and the art of the fashion industry to indigenous textiles.” Asymmetric ponchos and dresses featuring a mix of durable hand-woven fabrics mixed with fine silks, demonstrate the mix of techniques and fabrics used to accomplish this vision.

The Voz collection is dominated by deep, burnt tones that mirror the Chilean landscape. Coffee browns, burnt oranges and tans pay homage to the beautiful natural state of the various fibers or to the plants that were used to make a range of natural dyes. For instance, the black and white Star Shawl is dyed using mineral clay. A terracotta 100% wool skirt is dyed with native hualle leaves while an ivory dress is dyed using the same plant, but rather than the leaves, moss from the plant is used to attain a lighter tone. Each piece reflects a deep, traditional understanding of what the landscape has to offer and how it can be transformed into beautiful objects by the human hand.

Beyond the color palette, several of the designs featured cultural symbols and traditional patterns in homage to the Chilean cultural landscape. A V-dress features hand loomed vine symbols. A diagonal tunic features diamond symbols. Uniting appreciations for indigenous cultures and craft, Aarons chose to feature jewelry by Mikuti. Also a fair trade, ethical fashion company, Mikuti operates out of several countries in Africa. Founder Erika Freund explained her interest in including her pieces in Voz’s debut show, “I think the similarities between Voz and Mikuti stem from the fact that we both work with indigenous populations and we both work on the ground, locally. Also, we both really try to capture the skill sets that exist and take them into a more high-end, Western market but at the same time we are really influenced by the cultures that exist in the different countries that we work in.”

Freund chose to include her latest collection of jewelry, which features native materials, but much less color than her previous banana bark or Masaai beaded collections. Bangles made from repurposed Ankole cow horn sourced from Uganda fit snug against the models’ mid-forearm adding a discrete accent to Voz’s designs. Necklaces and earrings featured hand-casted brass and recycled aluminum sourced from and casted in Kenya made by artisans in their home countries.

When asked if Voz plans to keep up with the fashion calendar, Aarons explained that Voz has every intention of becoming a fashion brand built on a strong business model and humane and environmental ethics that is able to introduce a new collection each season. Keep your eyes out for this one in September as the brand quickly evolves with each collection and pushes into the high-fashion market!

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