Johanna Ortiz’s New NYC Flagship Has a Room Inspired by Iris Apfel

On Wednesday afternoon, Colombian designer Johanna Ortiz officially opened the doors to her first New York flagship at 799 Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side.

The tropical retail oasis — a 3,422-square-foot, four-story building that now holds the brand’s New York headquarters, a logistics and stock room, and two retail floors with the designer’s seasonal collections, swim and resort wear lines, homeware, specialty gowns and exclusive NY styles — was designed to transport shoppers and give them the full Johanna Ortiz experience.

The stunning space features the brand’s signature palm motifs as multiple large-scale installations, designed by Colombian artisans; artisanal furnishings and decor of commissioned and sourced Latin American art, hand-selected by Ortiz. There is even a sun-drenched VIP fitting room inspired by Iris Apfel’s red living room, designed with custom printed jacquard of houses along the Pacific Ocean in Colombia, covering floor to ceiling.

Ortiz’s resort collection, which launched the same day as her retail opening, was designed with this expansion in mind. 

New knitwear and leather pieces were a direct nod to new NYC customers who, come winter, might want to pair her heavier brushed cashmere sweaters with a buttery leather flared skirt with hand-braided details, for example. There was also a stellar navy knit set with knotted crochet inserts.

The designer tapped into the current Western trend which truthfully she’s been dabbling in for years with silk and cotton piped blouses; cowboy boots and wide leather belts, while a chocolate suede ensemble with macramé and tassel-embellished knotted neckline also blended in her nautical “sailing boats and ruffles” inspiration.

“We tried to interpret the feeling of being by the water and ocean [in Colombia] and being colorful, while doing a different version of my Western, with nautical,” she said.

Nautical knots were a recurring motif, as seen within the hand-placed knotted palm tree prints on easy linen dresses; within eyelet crochet numbers, or as dramatic, hand-knotted tassels and asymmetric straps adorning occasion dresses and a great black cutout pima cotton knit frock.

She rounded things out with flattering botanical dresses, as in a fluid, green-and-white large-scale palm print number with colorful bell sleeves, silk maxidresses with contrasting print paneling and trims and myriad dressy fare spanning from monochrome draped silk gowns with billowing trains to black-and-white maxis and minis adorned with hand-beaded and hand-sequined embellishments.

Shown within the new store, the collection felt right at home in NYC, balancing her artisanal, Colombian signatures with a thoughtful expansion of city-minded dress, with ample festive and joyful flair.

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