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London's Fashion and Textile Museum shows Mexican rebozo
08
Aug '14
Rebozo, the traditional Mexican shawl synonymous with the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo’s dressing styles, has become the subject of a current exhibit entitled ‘Made in Mexico’ at the Fashion and Textile Museum, London.
 
Slated to run through August 31, 2014, the exhibition aims to explore and celebrate the crucial role played by textiles, belonging to the 17th century to the present day, in promoting Mexico’s culture across the world.
 
Divided into different sections, the event also highlights the history of the North American country’s textiles through a rich collection sourced from Franz Mayer Museum, Mexico City, the Museum of Textiles, Oaxaca and private collectors like Ruth D. Lechuga.
 
The display features a section of Mexican dresses, curated by renowned Mexican anthropologist Marta Turok, alongside a Frida Kahlo portraiture, which stands as a political statement of solidarity and the artist’s relation with the labourers of her country, and a photograph of the 21st century musician Lila Downs. 
 
Additionally, some 50 original works, inspired from Mexican textiles and rebozo, by artists, photographers and designers of the contemporary Mexican and British fashion including Francisco Toledo, Graciela Iturbide, Carla Fernandez, Zandra Rhodes and Kaffe Fassett have also form part of the exhibit.
 
Throughout its history, the rebozo has been appropriated by revolutionaries, artists, writers and collectors who have helped to shape the garment into a symbol of Mexican culture and identity. In Castilian, the word rebozo suggests the act of covering or protecting yourself. It is referred to in literature of the 16th century: in 1555 by the grammarian Alonso Molina and in 1572 by the Fraile Diego Durán. The most famous proponent was artist Frida Kahlo (1907–54) whose embracing of traditional costume was a political statement of solidarity with the labourers of her country. Still woven using traditional techniques, the rebozo remains an important emblem of contemporary Mexican life and it is celebrated for the indigenous craft skills involved in its production. 
 
The origins of the rebozo lie in the early colonial period of Mexico, which influenced the artisans of the country to emulate the highly prized embroidered shawls and mantillas of the Spanish. This shawl became a central element of the China Poblana, the traditional women’s outfit of Mexico. The rebozo has since become an integral part of daily life and represents the journey from birth to death, being used as both a baby carrier as well as a shroud. Most Mexican women today own at least one rebozo.
 
After London, the exhibition will travel to Mexico in the spring of 2015.
 

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