Icons of the Cuban fashion 1980-1990. Exhibition of Titina. Fototeca of Cuba, Mercaderes street Nr. 307, Old Square, Old Havana. August - September 2017


TITINA: Time for fashion

The rescue and preservation of memory in all its aspects, actions and moments is vital, particularly when certain circumstances eroded the odd imprint of that imprint.

Thus the project presented by Joanne Soto, TITINA, awarded in the Raúl Corrales 2016 contest, of the Fototeca de Cuba, recognizes a batch of models, designers and people who in one way or another influenced or actively participated in the rise and development of the recovery of the concept of Cuban fashion, which for reasons that would be very complicated to explain in a short space was diluted until it was almost lost during the sixties of the last twentieth century.

All social change upsets concepts, habits, perceptions. The universe of fashion was no exception. Neither the design of costumes and accessories, nor the presence of extras, nor the programming of catwalks could be the same in the Cuban post-revolutionary era, but the new times, there was a moment of recovery that manifested towards the end of the seventies and throughout the eighties.

At that time, there were signs that it was possible that fashion and its professions and trades could find their way into the nation's renewed socio-cultural landscape.

The work of the Cuban Fund for Cultural Heritage directed at that time by Nisia Agüero; La Maison that Cuban fashion house, the textile factory Desembarco del Granma in Villa Clara with fabrics appropriate for our climate and the Telarte project that linked artists and designers supported by the Center for the Development of Visual Arts.

However, the crisis of the nineties, and even before that, the rectification of errors in the economic management had repercussions on art and the fashion industry. There were structural and organizational problems to amend, but this was coupled with the prevalence of malicious criteria that judged the phenomenon of fashion as something "pernicious, frivolous and conducive to consumerism". Time and the very maturity of the evolution of politics have put things in their place. Today it is possible to ponder previous contributions and rescue contributions from people who did much to vindicate fashion.

The latter is the subject of Joanne Soto's repertoire of images, TITINA, an act of poetic justice but also of creative evocation that has nothing to do with nostalgia.

Stylistically there are contact points between the work of Alberto Diaz, Korda, the most emblematic of Cuban photographers who worked fashion in the 50s and this collection of Titina. That family air must be seen as continuity, never in an epigonal sense.

The young and talented Joanne Soto, has developed a remarkable upward trajectory in photography, within this very special world of fashion, which today shines thanks to the quality of those who are linked to both photography and fashion. After more than twenty years of having walked the catwalks, occupied spaces in the publications of the time: Mujeres, Muchachas, Opina, these figures have been seen behind Titina's lens, which demonstrates her expertise and mastery of photographic art when both models and designers flash with new energy.

On this occasion, more than thirty works printed in black and white or in color, depending on their motivations, allow this confrontation that shows how these emblematic figures maintain the packaging and charisma that characterized them in the height of their incursions on the catwalks, which shows that they maintain the vigour, prestance and plasticity that made them shine, but also show how Titina does not capture fortunate moments, but has managed to bring to the surface the impetus of other decades.

Full mastery of light, contrasts, spatial composition, all elements to consider in each of the works presented in this novel vision, because they are not photographs of the eighties, is a tribute to this decade that marked those years as decisive in the rise of fashion, are photographs taken to those who in those years flooded the Cuban catwalks with their resolute gait and grace to carry creations made in function of the national consumer public, which served as guidance in the recate of the good taste of the Cuban.

Without the freshness of her twenties, each photograph shows that inner strength that Joanne Soto rescues from the inquisitor's eye of her camera.

by: Virginia Alberd. Havana, July 2017