Medellin as the center of fashion and beauty
Medellin, one of the jewels of Colombia is better known in the United States for being the site of Pablo Escobar’s siege on Colombia and the United States during the drug wars in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. Barring this reputation, the lovely mountainous city is known throughout Latin America for the beauty and style of its residents. Medellin is home to many of the world’s most famous plastic surgeons, second only to Rio de Janiero, Brazil.
To accurately report and write about the plastic surgeons and plastic surgery of this city requires deeper exploration into the culture and industry of beauty, fashion and style. So this week, the operating room is left behind to embark on a week of reporting from Colombia Moda, the nation’s biggest fashion event. Colombia Moda is a joint venture between Inexmoda, which is the head of fashion in Colombia and leaders in the textiles industry.
Over 17,000 people have descending on the city to see the latest fashion lines, meet the designers and discuss trends in textiles and fashion. This includes journalists and photographers from around the world.
Being a photographer here is surprisingly strenuous. Surgical photo shoots are more of an endurance event; waiting for the right moments in a 14 hour neurosurgery, for example. But this is much more physical. After just a few days, my entire body aches; from lunging a camera bag packed with equipment, from crouching on hard floors at the end of the runway, and from lifting the heavier, telephoto lens required for the runways shoots. After each runway, we race off to next event, to get set up and in position before the audience is admitted and the show stops.
At one point, I am lost and tired, unsure of where and when the next runway event occurs. So I follow a group of cameramen down a hallway. When security asks if I am with the group, it seems easier to just say “Yes” then try to explain in my limited Spanish. I end up backstage with the models and designers just before one of the big shoots. It’s an eye-opening experience and I snap a few quick pics before heading to the runway and getting into position.
One of the most surprising and pleasant aspects of Colombia Moda is the warmness and friendliness of the local Colombian press. Despite being an unknown foreigner and obvious newbie, they readily scoot over and give me some of the more coveted space on the floor immediately before the runway. After brief introductions, the photographers on either side of me offer tips and help adjust the settings of my trusty Nikon to ensure that I get good quality photos despite the adverse lighting situations. I learn quickly to delete photos while waiting for the next model to reach appointed areas to avoid being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of photos. However, in my case, it’s a wasted effort. In just two days, I have accumulated over 5,000 photos that now need to be viewed, sorted, cropped and re-sized for publication here. I am in awe of the veteran photographers and their ability to quickly separate and select photographs to submission to publications just moments after leaving a show. The press room is crowded with journalists and photographers sending photos that will be picked up by wire services for major news outlets all over the world.
But today is my last day, to gather another 2,000 shots before returning to the realm of plastic surgery. However, being at Colombia Moda, seeing the models, visitors and understanding the industry have given me an invaluable background into a billion dollar industry, what makes beauty and drives the thriving plastic surgery practices here.