Days before her AW14 launch at Macrofest Panama, I get a chance to take a sneak peek at Nixia Varela's Dominio de Mujer collection at her atelier in old Panama City. I know Nixia more for her accessories, jewellery, belts and her ever popular clutches that can be found everywhere from luxe hotels to bijoux boutiques nationwide. So, it's really a treat to get to see her collection pre-show. You would think that designing accessories (they're all one-offs) would be enough creativity for this busy mother of four who's youngest is only nine months old. THINK AGAIN.
Nixia has been designing since school, where she modified her school skirts to add pockets, making them more useful. But it's when she was given the gift of a sewing machine that things really started to happen, and of course she hasn't stopped since.
Nixia's 25-piece collection is inspired by the 50s, but a golden smart 50s - regal purple, aubergine, burnt orange, gold and cream with the odd pop of bright, bright.
She's practical and uses materials that work with the country's high humidity levels in the rainy season. Silks, chiffons and lace are designed for a woman who appreciates classic styles with a twist, and her dresses, skirts, blouses and jackets are certainly coquettish, but not too - perfect material from boardroom to cocktail. This is exactly where her collection is strong.
I ask her where what she is planning next, maybe showing internationally?
'Definitely,' she says, 'but maybe when my youngest is older. Knowing my husband, he'd want the whole family to go along and that would be, well...!' And she laughs.
Photographs Jose Williams for MsCastroRides