Sunday, April 7, 2013

Fashion comes to Loreto!

This week there was a Fashion Show in town with a Loreto Bay connection – this winter one of the commercial spaces along the Paseo has become home to Agnes Boutique, a store specializing in women’s casual fashion items like tops , dresses and wraps as well as accessories and décor items.  Although this store was a new addition to Loreto Bay this season, Agnes and her husband Sergio first moved to Loreto 6 years ago to start their first business here, a small retail shop just off the Malacon waterfront in town.

After getting a degree in fashion design in her native Poland, Agnes had moved to London England where she met Sergio and began a successful career combining her artistic flair for silk fabric painting with clothing design.  Later they moved to Cancun where Agnes taught fabric painting at a large resort Hotel while she developed a side-line of designing and making her own clothing line.  After several years in Cancun they made the big move from the Caribbean east coast to the Baja and Loreto arriving here 6 years ago.  

Since then, this hard-working couple has grown from their first location to a combination store and massage studio in the beautiful Posada de las Flores Hotel on the main square in Loreto, before opening a second store with a massage room here in Loreto Bay this past Fall.  It has been challenging building a new business from scratch in a small market like Loreto, particularly with some of the negative factors that have had to deal with over the past several years.

However, faced with these challenges, this resourceful couple has adapted and diversified, finding new market niches, and by using their talents and hard work they have managed to grow and develop their businesses.  While they have hired staff in their store downtown, both Agnes and Sergio give massages in both locations, so scheduling who is going to be working where and when becomes complicated!  In addition to the store providing the opportunity for a little “retail therapy” for the Loreto Bay Community Agnes also gives lessons in fabric painting, Sergio was also doing excellent massages in a small studio attached to the retail space.  The clothing inventory in her stores is about equally divided between what she purchases for re-sale and her own line which she designs, hand paints the fabric for, and then sews herself – talk about vertical integration! 

This was the third annual fashion show Agnes has held in Loreto, a year ago it was held at the Golf Clubhouse here in Loreto Bay and the year before that it was in a small development north of the town of Loreto.  This year the location was to be the Oasis Hotel at the south end of the Malacon on the waterfront in town and a couple of weeks ago, word about a fashion show started to circulate here in Loreto Bay as well as in town and ticket/wristbands were available at the stores as well as other locations for 300 pesos (about $25.00 US) which included admission to the show, dinner and a free drink.

A group of Loreto Bay Homeowners met at the Wine Bar and we took a couple of vehicles into town to the Oasis.  Upon our arrival the large patio area overlooking the beach was filled with tables, most of which were mainly occupied by women, with a few brave men scattered through the crowd, visiting and enjoying pre-dinner drinks.  After lining up at the bar to pick up a drink we made our way to one of the few empty tables on the far side of the patio and settled in for the evening.  As I walked through the crowd, I was impressed with their dressed up appearance, obviously this event had been taken as a fashion occasion – compared to the usual casual standards that are the norm in Loreto.  It was also worth noting that the crowd of over 150 people was fairly evenly divided between Mexican and “Gringo”, with a strong representation from Loreto Bay.

The fashion show itself began within the hour of when we arrived and the “T-shaped” runway stage was soon graced by a steady stream of beautiful models showing off an impressive collection of outfits, many featuring gauzy silk tops and cover-ups decorated with Angie’s colorful hand painted designs.  After a well received first showing of the more casual daytime/beach outfits, dinner was served and I was impressed with the speed and efficiency of the staff getting the meals to that many people in a short period of time.  The meal itself was also a pleasant surprise, with a chicken breast, steamed vegetables and mashed potatoes, followed by a delicious and light parfait desert.    

After the meal was cleared away and drinks were replenished the second half of the show continued with dressier, more resort-wear clothing combining some manufactured pieces with Agnes' signature hand painted silk creations to make some very beautiful outfits.  These were shown off to great effect by the beautiful collection of models (including Agnes herself) who showed grace and composure both on the runway itself and getting to and from it from the beach cabana rooms nearby which were used as their changing rooms.

I was impressed that both halves of the show kept a steady pace with a new model and outfit ready to “take to the boards” as soon as the previous one was finished.  Their hair and make-up complimented their outfits and I was particularly impressed with how agile they all were up and down the stairs and on and off the stage – while wearing high fashion stiletto heels and platform soled shoes – with never a stumble!

Following the second half of the show, the entertainment was introduced; Lalo Companioni, a native Cuban now living in La Paz, accompanied by a percussionist, and playing guitar over recorded background music, played a lively mixture of Cuban, Latin, Salsa, and Merengue dance music and was rewarded by a busy dance floor in front of the stage.  I thought it was fitting that Agnes and Sergio took to the dance floor together and proceeded to put on an impressive demonstration of several Latin style dances – perhaps dance instruction could be another side-line of this multi-talented couple!

The music and dancing were still well underway when our Loreto Bay table decided to return to our own “hood”, with most of us meeting again back at the Wine Bar for a nightcap and more conversation until “Baja Midnight” and another memorable evening came to an end.  Having an opportunity to get dressed up, and come together as a community at an idyllic beachfront location in town, to enjoy good food and entertainment – and appreciate the outstanding artistic and entrepreneurial skills that are so strong in this small community this was a rich experience in what it means to be “Living Loreto!”