Talking with Ketty Tinoco

Cartagena’s Fashionable Best

One of the things that I really enjoy about Colombia is the accessibility to arts, literature, entertainment and to those that provide  these contributions to local culture.  As a small country of only 45 million, there’s just a greater chance to encounter these national treasures.

Today was another example of that – as I had the opportunity to talk to one of Cartagena’s home grown fashion designers, the fabulous Ketty Tinoco and her son, Jose Vergara.

This wonderful chance encounter with the queen of elegance with her trademark crisp cool linens was absolutely thrilling.  As long time friends and readers know – medicine/ surgery are my life, and my obsession – but clothing design and fashion are a close second.  It all stems from an elective course at Dalhousie University many (too many!) years ago when I was just a few classes short of graduation.
Dalhousie University is well-known to everyone (except this gringa) for its costume studies program – and after taking one class – I was hooked forever with a love of design, fashion and fabric.
Some of you have read about my love of native Bogotano fashion, and how I
haunted the shop windows during the months I lived in Bogotá.  Now, I turn my eyes to the coast..

So here I am, sitting next to Ketty Tinoco as she gives me a sneak peek of her upcoming collection – coming out September 1st.   (Yes – the collection is luscious, beautiful – and no – all of you will have to wait – no sneak peeks here at Cartagena Surgery.)  Ms. Tinoco speaks just a little English, and while looking at her lovely, lovely pieces, all of my adjectives in Spanish just desert me.  I am speechless with wonder as I look at the way the fabric is soft, yet crisp, simply elegant yet beautifully detailed.
All the fancy terms I learned in school – are instantly erased – I have no words to describe the loose drape, the relaxed yet classic looks.

Her clothing evokes images of romantic evenings in the steamy Cartagena heat – a return to the glamour of the past. Lauren Bacall, Casablanca, Marlene Dietrich and Katherine Hepburn in those fabulous trousers, this is what it makes me think of.  A time when people dressed to impress and dressed for dinner.  And these clothes  make me long for that.

While all the pieces are beautiful, there is one piece of such classic beauty that my heart just stops – this dress it calls to me, it speaks to me, it evokes images of screen legends and black and white films, of forgotten eras.  This dress is so amazingly beautiful and brings to mind such lovely feelings – that tears come to my eyes.  And that is fashion, my friends.

from the Ketty Tinoco Collection

Now that I’ve had a chance to share my lovely afternoon with you – let me share a little more about the charming, elegant, talented Ms. Tinoco.  She started sewing at home over thirty years ago (just barely 52, and certainly doesn’t look it!)

Since then she has earned a reputation for her style and extensive use of washed linens in her work, as one of Cartagena’s best known designers.

Ketty Tinoco

 (Centro Historico)

Calle Baloco, Edif.
Pineres Local 1

Cartagena, Colombia

57 5 664 0525


Ketty Tinoco’s boutique in historic El Centro

Hotel Hilton Cartagena, Local H

Cartagena, Colombia

57 5 665 0660 ext 217


This video is in Spanish – but you certainly don’t need to know Spanish to love her style!

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