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Bringing back African culture in Colombia

By: Abby Huang

Earlier this year, in the shoreside city of Buenaventura, two black models sauntered in exotic African-style dresses. One stunned the onlookers with an exquisite blue and gold dress fit for royalty, and the other strutted out wearing a red minidress with a fluted top.

The designer was 23-year-old Esteban Sinisterra Paz. He was born in Santa Bárbara de Iscuandé. Unfortunately, he and his family were displaced when he was at an early age. He wanted to apply to a design college, but his father believed that sewing and dressmaking were not masculine and reserved for women only. However, Mr. Sinisterra continued on designing, making a large impact on the fashion industry.

He told the New York Times that his goal was, “Decolonization of the human being.” He is also the main designer of Francia Marquez, the future vice president of Colombia. Ms. Marquez will be the first black vice president in Colombia.

Ms. Marquez’s style places an emphasis on her Afro-Colombian heritage. She has replaced suits and traditional formal wear with dresses that feature bold colors and patterns. And, unlike others, she keeps her hair natural, making a statement with her style.

Many of Mr. Sinisterra’ s designs are inspired by nature. For example, Mr. Sinisterra designed a dress with the legendary Colombian butterflies’ wings.

More recently, we’ve seen more Afro-Colombians join the new movement, promoting the fresh style.

A new type of fabric, called wax, has taken off. The fabric is filled vibrant pictures ranging from flags of different countries to makeup products.

Mr. Sinisterra made 3 different outfits for Ms. Marquez for inauguration day. “Whichever she chooses is fine with me,” he says.


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