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In March 2016, Bolivia lost a legend. Internationally renowned fashion designer Beatriz Canedo Patiño passed away aged 66, leaving behind a legacy that will change the face of the Bolivian fashion industry forever. Dubbed the “Queen of Alpaca” by the New York Times, her work has been exhibited and sold all around the world as well as adorned the bodies of influential politicians and celebrities alike.
Born in 1950 in La Paz, Patiño went to Paris as a young woman to study and train in couturiers. Upon mastering the art, she moved to New York in 1987 to open her own design house by the name of Royal Alpaca Inc, where she began promoting the natural and versatile alpaca, vicuña and llama fabrics following the haute couture method of design. Thanks to her creativity, ingenuity and passion, the company quickly found success both locally and across the globe. Before long, Patiño was creating exquisite custom designs for important public figures such as the President of Bolivia, the First Lady of the United States and Pope John Paul II, just to name a few.
In 1994, she moved back home to Bolivia to create a new company, BCP Alpaca Designs. The driving factor behind the decision was the desire to produce internationally acclaimed designs which would proudly display the “Made in Bolivia” logo. Above all else, Patiño was determined to promote her motherland as a leading designer and producer on the international stage.
BCP Alpaca Designs was a success and quickly began exporting fine clothing to lucrative international markets such as North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. For many years, Patiño continued to personally oversee each and every one of her products, from conception right through to production. In the interest of giving something back to the country she so dearly loved, Patiño rigorously upheld responsible and sustainable business ethics by creating fair work opportunities for the impoverished camelid farming communities of Bolivia.
Such was her influence on Bolivian fashion design that an elaborate memorial parade took place in her honor in May 2017. As the final event of Bolivia’s Fashion Week, the parade took place in one of the country’s most grandiose and culturally significant residences, Cochabamba’s Palacio Portales.
Culture Trip spoke to Daniela Erana, the Marketing Director of the Fashion House of Beatriz Canedo Patiño or BCP Alpaca Designs, to find out more about Patiño, her company and its future.
What influence did Beatriz’s time in Europe and the United States have on her work?
Beatriz was a creative person who was inspired by her surroundings, especially the places she lived and worked. Her greatest inspiration was always her country, Bolivia—whose colors, nature, diversity and quality of Bolivian workmanship stand out in every exclusive piece of her brand.
The timeless style and elegance that always characterized the “Queen of the Alpaca,” as the New York Times called her, led her to become the female icon of Bolivian high fashion. Through her designs, she fulfilled her ultimate mission to promote Bolivia and incorporate the seal “Made in Bolivia” on the most famous catwalks in the world, on products synonymous with the highest quality.
The time she spent in Paris had a big influence on her career because that was when she became the designer of members of the European and Asian nobility, national and international authorities, entrepreneurs and show business personalities.
Beatriz integrated into the creativity of New York and its people. It was there where she established her company and the use of camelid textiles in her haute couture designs which provided distinction and exclusivity of her garments. This allowed her to fulfill the dream of any designer by sharing showcases with Oscar de la Renta, Ralph Lauren, and Donna Karen, among others, when she opened her Atelier on Seventh Avenue. Her years in Europe and the United States were an important stage of her life which defined her career. Beatriz integrated her experiences into her work, which was and is reflected in the brand Beatriz Canedo Patiño.
What challenges did Beatriz face when she returned to Bolivia to start her new business?
Of course, no entrepreneurship is easy, especially when it is a new vision and something that has never been done before. However, her determination and perseverance combined with her unique talent empowered her to create a specialized work team with a sustainable and ecological business model and to demonstrate once and for all that “anything is possible.” Undoubtedly, being an enterprising woman in the early ’90s was a challenge. She faced this with the professionalism that always characterized her.
Are there outstanding works that Beatriz or her family are particularly proud of?
Beatriz’s legacy to all Bolivians was the result of her hard work over  years and an unshakable mission to establish the “Made in Bolivia” seal as being synonymous with the highest quality in the international fashion industry.
Her family is proud of her as a person. Firstly, for having the vision to show the world the virtues of haute couture in camelid textiles and for being a pioneer in bringing these wonderful designs to the world of high fashion, both nationally and abroad.
Secondly, for her perseverance and determination in fulfilling her mission, creating her own company to turn that vision into reality as well as contributing to the socio-economic development of her country. Beatriz, both personally and through her company, supported more than  charities and was the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
What plans are there for the company in the future?
We will continue to meet international demand through our exclusive distribution channels. Specifically, this year we are expanding into luxury and renowned multi-brand boutiques in the Italian cities of Milano and Monza.
It is a priority to continue exporting this great Bolivian brand to international markets. Demand continues to grow in Europe, Asia, [and] the United States. Soon we will begin operations in Colombia and Mexico.
In addition to expanding our presence to more countries and markets, we will continue working to promote the brand and Bolivia at the highest level.
We are excited to announce the relaunch of our website and the opening of the online channel of the BCP Accesorios® line.
The Fashion House of Beatriz Canedo Patiño has a boutique store in La Paz and will soon offer sales directly through their website. For the time being, sales and international delivery can be organized via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).