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Designs from tribal past make Mexico a global fashion hit

Designs from tribal past make Mexico a global fashion hit

Posted by PanamericanWorld on May 18, 2015

When Mexico’s first lady, Angélica Rivera, catapulted into Vanity Fair’s 2013 best dressed list, thanks to local designer Benito Santos’s sophisticated sheath dresses, the country’s homegrown fashion talent stepped into the style spotlight. Then came Rivera’s trip to London in March with husband Enrique Peña Nieto to heraldthis year’s Mexico in the UK event. She was radiant in red for a Buckingham Palace banquet, while dazzling in diamonds and a chic black gown at a Guildhall banquet hosted by the lord mayor.

Now Mexico’s global fashion credentials are receiving another boost – the Museum at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology has given Mexico City prominence in its exhibition on the top emerging fashion capitals, which opens on 2 June. “Fashion from Mexico is new and exciting,” says co-curator Ariele Elia. “They are using the culture from the indigenous tribes in a way that’s not been seen before.”

One example is Ricardo Seco, who uses the vibrant colours, mystical patterns and ancient beading techniques of the 15,000-year-old Wixárika tribe from the mountains of central Mexico on everything from neoprene bomber jackets to skateboards. “I want to show the cool Mexico with pieces you can wear on the street,” says Seco, who is among many Mexican designers who capitalise on the country’s diverse culture, mixing old and new. Inspired by the landscape, Alejandra Quesada often clashes floral and fauna prints for her modern maxi dresses, sweatshirts and more, while Francesco Cancino of Yakampot adapts indigenous shawls and Tzotzil tribal craft processes for his minimalist slouchy silhouettes.

For Mexico’s fashionistas, stereotypical pieces like the rebozo scarf are eschewed, and so are western takes on Mexican design. “It’s too kitsch,” says Brenda Díaz de la Vega, editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar México and Latin America, who in the last two years has doubled the number of local designers in Harper’s Bazaar México. Instead, she says, stylish Mexicans mix a few local designers with big logo, big brand pieces by Chanel, Louis Vuitton or Hermès. Then there’s the current 70s boho chic look à la Navajo tribe. “It doesn’t work in Mexico, because it is too close to the northern view,” says Belén Limón, head of content at the three-year-old e-store Dafiti, with its 400 national and international brands. “Instead we go for the southern tropical colours and fabrics from Oaxaca,” she says.

Yet there’s more to Mexican design than heritage. Carlos Peralta, based in Iztapalapa, gives his slinky slips and delicate camisoles rock’n’roll metal zips and chains, whereas the Guadalajara-based design duo, Julia and Renata Franco, of Julia y Renata, opt for a pared down aesthetic. Their muted white, black and blues focus attention on innovative design details like balloon-effect side pleats and deliberate ragged finishing. “With no formal fashion structures we are free to do what we want,” says designer Carmen Rion, who works with artisans in Chiapas to create textiles for her bra tops, layered looks and palazzo pants.

If you dream of becoming the next Donna Karan or Versace, it is time to turn that dream into a reality. Becoming a fashion designer isn’t easy, but it can be done- as long as you’re committed and willing to put in the work. Drawing up designs is just a fraction of what it takes: you need technical expertise, fashion knowledge, real-life experience, and determination, to go from nobody to somebody.

There are so many avenues to pursue, finding the right path for you can be tricky. This article on Sun Tat Label will help you figure it all out. It outlines the steps necessary to succeed as a fashion designer, from building your portfolio and finding trade shows to fashion schools and creating prototypes. Just be sure to remember us when your famous!

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