The Art and History of Traditional Fashion in Mexico
A few days ago I went to a temporary exhibition in Mexico City with approximately 100 public and private collections of traditional Mexican clothing. I enjoyed seeing the more than 225 mannequins and 400 items from clothing, accessories, designs, painting and photographies. It’s the first time I encountered an exhibition in Mexico about fashion and textiles featuring so many indigenous cultures from around the country. In that small space I walked through 75 years of history of Mexican fashion! Can you imagine? It was really inspiring.
These amazing traditional garments speak for themselves. I love seeing the colors, the intricate, majestic embroidery designs, and botanical inspiration. I saw pieces of the different indigenous Mexican cultures like the otomí, purépecha, totonaca, huasteca, nahua, amuzgo o huichol, maya, tzotzil, mazahua and some modern mixed pieces, like the traditional China Poblana and charro, quechquemitls and shawls.
Here some traditional garments from around Mexico:
The fajas are accessories that hold skirts, pants and tangles, and its function is similar to that of a belt. These garments are typical of Zinacantan, Chiapas. The production of one of these last approximately a month! The fajas are not just adorned with detailed embroidery shapes, they tell fascinating stories. The mothers of the community weave in them about their children, their sacred animals and many other important events in their lives.
A traditional huipil (huipilli in Nahuatl) consists of a rectangular cloth, folded in half, with an opening for the head. This dress is related to the indigenous and mestizo part of southern Mexico and Central America, it is commonly used in the Yucatan Peninsula.
Quechquémitl, Nahuatl word that means tip neck. This garment production technique dates back to pre-Hispanic times. Proudly originally from Mexico, they are mainly produced in the State of Mexico using wool, and in Puebla, Veracruz, San Luis Potosi and Hidalgo using cotton. They are produced by different cultures around Mexico, as the Otomí, Huasteca, Totonac, Mayan and Nahua, and each culture have their own embroidery techniques, material and color palette that makes them unique.
SARAPE, GABAN OR JORONGO
Interestingly, the serape was created just to dressed the men of the community. Not until now, that is had become so popular, it has been adapted for women. This traditional garment has different names, Sarape, gaban and jorongo, depending on the Mexican state where it’s created. It’s similar to the ponchos used in South America. It’s produced mainly in the State of Mexico and Saltillo with wool, cotton and sometimes with applications of gold, silver and silk.
Some of my favorite pieces:
Above: Huipil with petticoat created by Florentina López de Jesús. Cotton yarn in natural color and coyuchi, taffeta fabrics ligaments and supplementary weft. Poplin tailored skirt. From Xochistlahuaca, Guerrero, Mexico.
Above: Traje de mujer cora. Popelina de algodón estampada, con aplicaciones de listones de satén de acetato liso y bordado con hilazas comerciales en punto de saten. From Santa Teresa de Nayar, Nayarit, Mexico.
Above: Indumentaria antigua nahua, 1950. Cotton and linen fabrics with taffeta ligament in waist loom: real point embroidered with silk threads and applications bar. From Amatlán de los Reyes, Veracruz, Mexico.
Above: Indumentaria tradicional huasteca, 1970. Tangle industrial fabric: cotton belt and acrylic yarn woven belt: satin blouse made with machine: quechquemitl embroidery cross stitch checkered table with acrylic yarn, worsted acrylic petob – tocado -: backpack embroidered cotton blanket and glass bead necklace. From Tancanhuitz Santos, San Luis Potosi, Mexico.
We love to know more about textiles from around the world, and we are lucky to get to see many of the work created by communities and cultures from around Mexico, since we get to travel around the country very often. There is something about the history of textiles and prints that I find fascinating, maybe the fact that everything has an important and special meaning. Do you love textiles as much as we do?