For centuries in Europe, the world of fashion has evolved into the globalized industry it is today. In the sixties, models began to gain notoriety and influence on trends. Beauty archetypes were idealized, establishing prototypes of proportions impossible to achieve. Human beings have always desired to alter their original form in pursuit of “beauty and elegance.” The Chinese deformed women’s feet to the point of rendering them invalids. In some African countries, rings were added to women’s necks to elongate them because it was considered more beautiful.
Countless ancestral practices endured until the era of tattoos and piercings. Older generations generally disapproved, but for young people, it was simply another form of decoration. Fashion trends come and go, and models, from those first catwalks in the palaces of Versailles to the boldest ones in the subways of New York, are an indispensable part of this industry.
For years, models had angelic and perfect faces and bodies—youthful, slim, tall, tanned, with huge eyes and wide, fresh smiles. They personified “Barbies,” which have gradually modernized over time. Nowadays, the catwalks are multicultural, and mature and plus-size women have emerged in the last decade. Fortunately, designers and manufacturers have realized that there is a significant female audience demanding fashion and designs specially tailored for their less-than-perfect bodies.
And here, in La Ribera, there are also designers who cater to their audience. Memorable fashion shows in the past, benefiting the Red Cross, brought together all local designers in diverse and unique shows. Today, the catwalks are individual with diverse options. One of them is presented two or three times a year by designer Alma Gutierrez, originally from Monterrey but who has been living here for decades.
“Currently, there are few local designers in La Ribera. Workshops and stores were closed after COVID. Years ago, there used to be several fashion shows per year in Ajijic,” says Alma, who adds, “I was an architect, and designing clothes was my hobby. One day, a designer friend asked me to model for him, and I really enjoyed it. Then I had the opportunity to do my first runway show at Las Hadas in Manzanillo, and that’s when I decided to dedicate myself to this. The road has been long and not always easy, but I’ve managed to survive, and fortunately, I have a very loyal clientele, and I also do fine clothing repairs.”
“I choose mature women as my models. They are my target market. I design for them; I know their tastes and, more importantly, their needs. My clients and I design together; I interpret their desires. My mission is to make real women look good. The international runway industry is a big business aimed at the upper echelons. I don’t watch fashion shows; I don’t know famous designers. I design for real women, not for ultra-thin and stylized ‘Barbies’ based on diets and Photoshop.”
Finally, one of her models, Donna Ashdown, said: “I modeled for the first and only time when I was 17 years old. Now, in my senior years, it has been a new experience. I believe it helps with my self-esteem. I think it’s a wonderful way to see what fashion can be! I believe designers work to make women look their best, giving them new ideas on how to achieve that. Alma’s work is for mature women because I believe they are more cohesive as a group. Her styles also reflect the interests of older women, and we live in a community where there are numbers!”
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