Classic Mexican shawl gets London exhibition

Jun 09, 2014, 7:53 AM EDT
Juanita Esquivel-Masahua sporting a rebozo tied in indigenous fashion (left) and Frida Kahlo (right) in 1937, in a series for Vogue.
(Lourdes Almeida/Toni Frissell)

Just like the poncho, the rebozo, a long hand-woven Mexican shawl characterized by its patterns and fringes, is a classic Mexican garment, and as part of the China Poblana or national costume, it remains an important symbol of contemporary life in Mexico.

Its origin lies in the early Spanish colonial days, when artisans sought to emulate the sought-after Spanish mantillas. Made famous by artist Frida Kahlo (and more recently by musician Lila Downs), the garment is now getting an exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum opening Friday.

‘MADE IN MEXICO: The Rebozo in Art, Culture & Fashion’ will seek to explore the roles of textiles in promoting Mexican culture internationally over the centuries, while highlighting weaving techniques and looking at the rebozo’s place in art and fashion.

Several Mexican and UK artists, photographers, and fashion designers have also been asked to create works in response to the Mexican shawl for this exhibition. They include works by Francisco Toledo, Carla Fernandez,Graciela Iturbide, Kaffe Fassett, andZandra Rhodes, amongst others.

Photographs by Lourdes Almeida, Antonio Turok, and Graciela Iturbide documenting the rebozo in the context of daily life will be on display, along with an installation by artistMauricio Cervantes exploring the use of the rebozo as a death shroud.

‘MADE IN MEXICO: The Rebozo in Art, Culture & Fashion’ will run until August 30, before travelling to the Franz Mayer Museum in Mexico City next spring.

-- Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop