They say that of all of the most famous Parisian couturiers, only Cristobal Balenciaga could actually make a garment from start to finish. Even today, it's the rare designer who can stand backstage, as Juan Carlos Obando did before his second New York outing, and statewith justifiable pride"Every pattern, every stitch is my own."
Obando can tell you the number of centimeters between the folds on one of his impeccably crafted gowns. He works with communities in Colombia to preserve quickly disappearing sewing techniques. His beautiful clothes are truly made with loveand sometimes with a magnifying glass. All of these are reasons why a presentation format might have better showcased Obando's artistry than a runway show, however dramatic and carefully orchestrated.
Obando's focus was on pleating "in the craziest way possible, so it's like I'm painting with chiffon." He spent time at a small pleating company in Los Angeles honing his expertise, and applied this amazing technique to midriff-bearing bustier tops that were paired with the first pants Obando has ever attempted. These were made of Japanese linen and tied in front for a nonchalant look that evoked lazy tropical-island days. But a pant does not daywear make, and this first stab at the category was not as convincing as he'd hoped. For now, Obando's skill is best admired on his gorgeous gowns, and there were plenty of those to marvel at.