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Meet Claudia Gontovnik of My Manifesto in Citadel

Today we’d like to introduce you to Claudia Gontovnik.

Born and raised in Barranquilla Colombia, Claudia Gontovnik graduated from Syracuse University in 1981. With her signature style of comfortable chic and natural femininity, Claudia arrived back home to launch her eponymous fashion house to great success and proclaimed as one of the pioneers of fashion design and style in Colombia.

With a trailblazing brand strategy, she established freestanding stores as well as the distribution of her collections throughout Colombia. In 2001, she expanded her brand to the international arena and relocated her operations to the United States where she opened two new stores in Miami, Florida and founded a digital fashion magazine “I am passionate about individuality, having fun with clothes, dressing creatively every day, and expressing oneself through our individual style.” Claudia has also designed and produced fashion shows, music for fashion shows, store windows for which she has won prices, custom designed for TV series and theatre, beauty products catalog design and production, organized and produced Newport Guitar Festival in Miami, styled for musicians, in the early 90’s created a group to fuse rock and jazz with Colombian Caribbean rhythms.

Since 2014, Claudia has been playing with the idea that everything we need already exists, and is dedicated to discovering and re-imagining previously owned & vintage apparel and accessories, to create completely one-of-a-kind pieces that nurture traditional hand-sewing techniques while endorsing a modern attitude towards design. It is Claudia Gontovnik’s mission to inspire a sustainable way to be stylish.

My Manifesto:

You can be more yourself than ever, almost fearless when you get to a certain point in your life.

I took a break after years of being a stylist, a costume designer in Colombia, the creator of a successful label, and the editor of my own online fashion magazine in the US. I needed time to think about my priorities.

The conclusion of that reflection was that I needed to express my creative intent and social responsibility through giving new life to items that previously had one. And that is what I do now.

I can contribute by stopping the feeding of toxic chemicals into our environment when I use what has already been produced. And convey the pressing need to stitch our world together through the rawness in every unique piece embroidered by a single mother in Medellin, Colombia.

My mission then is to inspire a sustainable way to be stylish, and each unique piece represents a statement for me and for the person who chooses to wear it.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Things are never easy, there are always struggles in business and in life in general. There are stones big and small in your path that you have to overcome. These are also, if you are open, aware and welcoming, teachings that will help you grow and grow.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with My Manifesto – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
Since 2014, I am expressing my creativity and social concerns by designing and working with only repurposed materials, except for the embroidery thread. I like turning waste into cool, one-of-a-kind pieces. I source the garments themselves on which I am going to work, and the the pieces of clothing that I use for cutting the patterns and designing. It’s a very thorough and meticulous thought process. A long one. After I am loving the piece and its all pinned exactly as I want it, I send them to Medellin, Colombia where single mothers hand-embroider them in place. The idea of the particular stitching I use to place the pieces on the garment, came about through experimenting while trying to convey a sense of stitching the world together. There is a rawness to what I do that represents transparency and honesty. That is the reason why one can see the knotting of the thread, that things have been cut from something, that not all edges around the patterns are perfect, that two things are seamed together, and incomplete images. I am proud of contributing to our planet by not polluting, proud to be empowering women and giving back to my country of origin, Colombia.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
My plan for the future is to keep on working in the same lane I am working on now and experimenting with different materials. For the first time in my life, I can let myself go with each day, and see where life takes me. And those, for me personally, mean big plans! Freedom!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Dash Photography, Claudia Gontovnik, Juan Carlos Obando

Getting in touch: VoyageMIA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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