In Chile, Angela Lindvall Discovers a World of Stunning, Sustainable Knits

by CHIOMA NNADI

In many ways, the rugged landscape of Chile’s Lake District is a home away from home for Angela Lindvall, who has always favored the earthy beauty of Topanga Canyon over the glitz and glamour of the Hollywood Hills. “I love the grandness of it,” says the California-based supermodel. “It also feels like there is a reverence for nature here and the traditions of the indigenous people reflect that.” Lindvall was a champion for green living long before it was trendy, and recently traveled to the South American country with Voz, a sustainable knitwear label that is putting the region’s centuries-old weaving techniques on the map.

As Lindvall discovered on her trip, the weaving practices of the Mapuche people are rich with symbolism and have been passed down from mother to daughter for generations. In fact, many of the women in the cooperative live in remote rural enclaves the same way their ancestors did hundreds of years ago, often with limited access to public transport and local amenities. In her first design session with the artisans, who traveled from far and wide to meet with her at the Voz headquarters in Temuco, she received a short course in the divine geometry of the craft. She learned that the diamond symbol represents community, for example, while the star motif represents womanhood—according to Mapuche legend, woman was born from the stars and the stars represent the divine. “I like the idea that this is a feminine tradition,” says Lindvall. “I think a lot of magic happens when women come together.” In the slideshow above, she documents the beginnings of her forthcoming collaboration with Voz and her travels across the Chilean countryside.

THE BEGINNING: When Voz and I decided to collaborate, Chile was calling my name. I couldn’t wait to meet the Mapuche women who weave the clothes. Arriving in Chile was like going back in time to a space in which we lived in harmony with nature: the lakes, the mountains, the trees, and the little well-kept cottages and farms all along the countryside.
Photo: Ben Draper

THE ENERGY: Wow! When I first set eyes on Volcán Lalín, it took my breath away. There is such grand majesty to its presence. You can feel the vibration of the volcanic energy.
Photo: Ben Draper

THE LOCAL SHOPS: One of my favorite parts of the trip was stopping at a local artisan shop in Curarrehue, Araucanía, called Mercado y Matetun. It carries such beautiful goods, handmade from wool, wood, clay, and grass. On the facade is a beautiful mural by Paula Tikay and Aner Urra, two well-known Mapuche artists.
Photo: Ben Draper

HOTEL ANTUMALAL: We were stayed, up near the volcano at the Hotel Antumalal. The architecture was so natural and incorporated into the setting of the landscape. Everything about it was amazing! The food, the rooms, the fireplaces, the view.
Photo: Ben Draper

THE PROCESS: I was mesmerized by the traditional way of hand-weaving on a simple loom. The attention to detail and the love that is put into this is really felt in the final piece.
Photo: Ben Draper

THE PEOPLE: When I had the opportunity to meet the Mapuche weavers, I was honored. I wanted to learn about their culture and this ancient practice of weaving. I was so delighted by the vision we created for our collection. Here, we are looking at the different fibers and colors from which we can choose.
Photo: Ben Draper

THE SCENERY: After traveling long hours throughout the Araucanía region, we found this beautiful spot, the Termas Geométricas, to soak in the hot springs. There was a river with abundant plants that looked like Jurassic Park running through this mountain. There were at least 15 natural rock hot springs all along the edges. It was magical!
Photo: Ben Draper

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