There are few places in this world as vibrant and colourful as Mexico- everywhere you look there is colour: in architecture, interiors, markets, food, cars and the locals’ clothing. Colour is just part of everyday life and I found myself mesmerised by everything going on around me. I was in heaven wandering the markets; rifling though the huge piles of textiles, home decoration and jewellry.
But it is not only what one can purchase that inspires me in Mexico; the country’s history and culture is as enchanting and multi-layered as the stunning textiles I found in the hilltop markets of the Chiapas region.
These delicious Otomi embroideries originate from Central Mexico although the local Tzotil and Tzeltal people of Chiapas have adopted the art and offer some fun adaptations. The indigenous works of art depict stories from the animal kingdom flaunting flamboyant birds, playful monkeys, tigers, badgers, bunny rabbits and more.
I’m bursting to use these pictorial works of art in a child’s bedroom. I can just imagine the fun pops of colour as beautiful wall hangings, lampshades, cushion covers and bed throws.
They are in fact beautiful enough for all ages and I just had to pick up a few for myself. I’ve also added some into the Robyn fashion store design that I have been working on recently. They are a great accent to the quirky and joyful collections that Robyn treats us to each season. More on that project coming soon!
Carrying on with the carnival of colour we have these densely embroidered floral works (left).
As soon as I saw them, they reminded me of the floral prints of the 60’s that were huge in fashion back in the golden years of flower power. Maybe it wasn’t the psychedelic drugs influencing the designers of the time but the Mayas.
So about the Maya people, I won’t give you a history lesson but in brief, we know that their civilisation developed in an area that encompasses southeastern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and the western parts of Honduras and El Salvador.
Through a millennium of change the Maya have managed to maintain many of their rich traditions, in particular their use of textiles as a form of cultural expression and identity. In the mountain towns of Chiapas the local attire is considered their cultural passport and a way of being identified within their communities.
Through tradition the women weave intricate designs into their textiles that tell stories of the ancient Maya civilization, mythology and their cosmological beliefs.
I took a wonderful trip to the mountain towns of Zinacantán and Chamula to visit some local families producing and selling textiles. As well as having a fashion show for the tourists and being fed on homemade tortillas and salsa, I also learnt about some of the local traditions and issues facing these indigenous communities.
For further reading I’d recommend this article on the history of textiles in Chiapas.
The Mexicans are not big fans of the camera but I'm sure these guys are smiling on the inside!