KCFW: Gabriela Arslanoglu is mixing Peruvian textiles with modern styles in Saturday’s KC Fashion Week show

When you grow up in the textile industry, creating designs from traditional fabrics isn’t difficult. Or, at least, that’s been true for Gabriela Arslanoglu. The Peruvian designer mixes styles from her home country with fashion trends in Kansas City, and she’s advocating for other designers to do the same. We spoke with Arslanoglu before her newest collection shows at Kansas City Fashion Week’s Saturday evening show.

You grew up in the textile business with your great-grandfather, who had an export business. What made you transition into making your own designs?

The decision to enter the fashion industry was a natural move for me. Not only did I grow up in a family involved with textiles and fabrics, but I also I grew up watching my mother and grandmother create garments for our family. I remember being amazed and inspired watching the fibers transform into something beautiful. For me, my design career began with swimwear because Lima is a coastal city and I grew up spending every summer at the beach. Some of my very first designs were crochet swimsuits and that technique was one that my grandmother passed down to me. In many ways, this has always been a part of my family. 

You spent some time in the travel industry. What did you witness while traveling that still impacts your designs today?

So much of my inspiration comes from the style of indigenous/native people in the countries I have visited. I pull inspiration from styles in my home country of Peru as well as Turkey.  Whenever I travel, I focus on the culture⁠—the food, the clothing, the history⁠—and all of that influences my designs.

Along with textiles, what aspects of Peruvian design do you incorporate into your work?

Precious metals, handmade items, and accessories go back thousands of years and are still used in everyday life as well as in fashion. I like to incorporate these items in different ways.  I can take a traditional Peruvian item, such as the Incan Cross or Tumi statue, and turn it into a fashionable accessory.

As an ancestral fashion advocate, with your designs, how do you combine the old with the new?

Certain styles, colors, and designs are timeless. Many of the fabrics I use have been utilized in Peruvian culture for centuries. I look for and find ways to incorporate these traditional textiles in to modern designs while staying true to the cultures that originally brought them to us. It is all about combining the old with the new and creating something totally original.

What can we expect from your Saturday show?

I will be presenting a modern take on traditional garments from the Ottoman Empire. You will see bold and vibrant designs consistent with my aesthetic. The designs will combine textiles from Peru and Turkey with styles and influences of the Ottoman Empire. It is going to be new and exciting, combining history with modern look of today. It’s going to be a fantastic show.

Gabriela International
Saturday Evening Runway Show
September 21 at 6:00 p.m.

Union Station
30 West Pershing Road, 
Kansas City, MO, 64108

Categories: Culture