Born in Lima, Peru, Violeta Villacorta’s early years were spent in a rich setting where millenary indigenous cultures have left an abundance of art, textiles, archeological sites, customs and more treasures that continue to inspire generations later. Her love for design started when she was a young girl. Violeta spent days on top of drafting tables at her father’s engineering firm in Peru. She loved spending time with the architects. As early as seven years of age, Violeta would draw up paper dolls and fashions and sewed clothes for her dolls. Her mother, Violeta Gonzales Diaz, a world-traveled demographer in Perú and later at the United Nations in New York, would bring fabrics and ideas from around the globe then had them made for her children. Aunt Hermila, a highly skilled seamstress, was also an inspiration. But her first dream as a child was to be an architect, so she could work with her dad, Abel Villacorta Vargas. Life had other plans; he passed away at a young age, when he was just 39, leaving three kids and a young wife.
A move to the United States in 1980, took Violeta Villacorta and her family to New York, where she attended the United Nations International School, a utopian educational experience where multiculturalism reigns. At age 13 she knew design would be her life’s passion and soon after began taking classes at Pratt Institute. Inspired by the melting pot and fashion mecca that is New York, and while still in high school, she authored “Non-Western Cultures Influence on Western Fashion,” which secured her a spot at the Fashion Institute of Technology and which theme continues to influence her work.
In 1993, after seeing a need for clothing made with sustainable materials, she started making one-of-a-kind garments and a collection made with natural and organic fibers she refers to as Rustic Elegance.™
The early 90’s saw a resurgence in the protection of the Earth from environmental devastation. Since environmentalism was not yet mainstream, the shops that carried Violeta Villacorta bought them for their beauty and craftsmanship, rather than for the environmental philosophy they were created with. Now “environmentalism” is mainstream, and many clothing lines are created with sustainability at the forefront. What started as a need to dress herself and her clients with fine sustainable custom handmade garments has become a craft Violeta Villacorta wants to preserve.
Her clothes have been featured in national and international magazines, as well as interviews on television in the U.S. and Europe. She has dressed luminaries in the music and film industry and has showcased her work at MOCA Geffen in Los Angeles. Her roster of work includes: a collaboration with neo-surrealist artist Kenny Scharf, where they developed clothes with his characters hand embroidered in raffia straw; and for six years, she worked as Senior Designer at Patagonia, the outdoor clothing company, sharing their mutual committed to lessening the negative impacts on our planet by adhering to socially and environmentally ethical business practices. In 2010, she created the brand ORG by vio, a design collaboration with indigenous Amazon artisans to promote their culture and traditional artistry as a means to generate a sustainable economy for the stewards of the forests. And in 2014, Violeta opened her store, the Sage & the Butterfly, an extension of ORG by vio that sells the beautiful treasures handmade by Amazon artisans, local and USA artists and designers.
In conjunction with her own design work, she consults for companies on sustainability, addressing environmental and social issues while making a profit. She also speaks on sustainable solutions, poverty alleviation through design and her work with indigenous Amazon artisans.
Violeta Villacorta extends her environmentalism to her personal life by having converted her first home, a small, yet spacious 1000 square foot 1952 modern home into an energy producing solar home fully eliminating the use of fossil fuels. She rather bike, walk and skate than drive. She is an avid promoter of local, organic, plant-based food.
A multifaceted creative spirit, she loves to make art and music as a singer and songwriter with musicians from the global community, whenever she gets a chance. You can hear her sing in the docufilm The Hightes Pass where her voice is heard throughout the film.