The fashion designer Carolina Andrade was born in the US and grew up in Cuenca, Ecuador, a city renowned for hats manufacturing and the birth place of the famous “Panama Hat.” As part of a family of diplomats and officials who spent many years in Rome, she always felt close to Italian culture. She made her first trip to Italy at the age of fourteen and found there the atmosphere and scenery she remembered from family stories.
She decided to complete her education in Florence and Rome, where she graduated in design and came in contact with the Italian fashion industry. She was particularly impressed by its combination of style and traditional craftsmanship. After traveling extensively through Europe and Latin America she decided to create a link with the traditions of her homeland by starting a careful research into its craft, models and local production techniques, particularly in relation to the most important part of those traditions, the production of hats.
Finding elements of comparison and affinity with the reality of Italian fashion and through the juxtaposition of refined and sophisticated materials, it took shape Etiqueta Latina, with the purpose to combine this tradition with the Italian style and the creativity of her experience.
“Growing up in Cuenca means to be in constant contact with craftmanship. There are factories everywhere and women work the straw in any spot of the city and throughout the surrounding villages.
As a child I was enchanted in watching all those figures intent in their weaving and I was curious about those bundles of straw in the hands of the women gradually turning the raw material into amazing hats.
Later, after I experienced the world of fashion and design, I saw these products from a new perspective. I then wanted to keep the tradition of my culture and extend it through my Italian experiences to develop an interpretation that is open to the possibilities of trends and style.“
“Tata Meme was a real Ecuadorian woman. She stayed with our family for three generations, and she spent many years in Rome in the entourage of my great-uncle, who was Ambassador to Italy. Back in Ecuador when I was a child,, she raised me with tales of a Rome at the height of the ‘dolce vita’ and passed down to me the charm and beauty of Italy. It was thanks to her that I chose to come to Rome, and also thanks to her that my bond with the most authentic part of Latin America always remained alive. She died recently, at the age of 101. Her warmth and her life were a source of great inspiration to me. Etiqueta Latina also talks about her .”
There is a profound connection between Southern Italy and Latin America, as I found out the first time I was in Naples and felt even more in Sicily. The sinuosity of Baroque shapes in Spanish-influenced and exuberant architecture, standing out in sun-drenched plazas of ancient cities, the lights and the sharp shadows framing the play of bright colors, the bustle of people moving in a spontaneous order; all these elements merge and overlap with the images of my land. I was touched by the heritage of that historic elegance, indifferent to the speed of the contemporary world, which still cultivates a certain sophistication and focus on the uniqueness of things: the hand-made items, tailored, tell us about history and tradition. I found the same in the people, many of whom are bizarre and exceptional characters, who embody the preciousness of an ancient and stratified culture, still deeply rooted in family values and hospitality. All this made me feel at home.