Traditional Mexican clothing styles have gained huge popularity of late, with this summer seasons’ looks promising full flamboyant skirts reminiscent of tehuana; and brightly coloured exotic floral patterned off the shoulder dresses and tops displaying embellishments of lace and other intricate decorative details which would look completely at home at a Mexican fiesta.
Such is the ongoing interest in Mexico’s iconic fashion that from the 16th June to the 4th Nov this year, the celebrated V&A Museum in London will play host to the spectacular wardrobe of Mexican artist and best-known fashion icon, Frida Kahlo. The items on display will include her wonderfully eclectic clothes collection, alongside self-portraits of her modelling the garments. It will also include letters and accessories which were discovered at the Blue House in Mexico City where she was born, raised and, sadly, passed away leaving her legacy to live on and inspire future generations to come.
Of course, this will not be the first time London has showcased Mexican talent, particularly garments popularised by the artist. In 2014 the Fashion and Textile Museum of London created an exhibition dedicated to Mexican rebozos, the traditional Mexican patterned and fringed hand-woven shawl made famous by Frida. 'Made in Mexico' explored the crucial role which textiles have played in promoting Mexican culture internationally since the 17th century.
The idea behind the exhibition was to highlight the intricate rebozos weaving techniques to an international audience and to display submissions from other Contemporary Mexican artists. These included Graciela Iturbide and Carla Fernandez, with items influenced by, and brought to vibrant life in response to the rebozo and other classic Mexican hand-woven textiles.
The following year in 2015, Mexico and the UK celebrated a ‘Duel Year’, an event which was originally planned as a cultural initiative promoting better understanding between the people of the two countries, but which evolved to include popular culture, innovation, business, scientific and other educational events. Following the success of this pioneering collaboration between the two countries, Mexican-inspired culture, particularly fashion, saw a surge in popularity not only in the UK, but also throughout the world.
The relationship between Mexico and the V&A was then cemented in the Summer of 2015, when Mexican architect Frida Escobedo was selected to design an installation in the museum’s garden to celebrate the 'Year of Mexico in the UK'. At the same time, the Mexican Embassy, in collaboration with Fashion Week Mexico, organised a Mexico Night for five contemporary Mexican designers at the Museum to highlight the talent within the country and to celebrate the proclamation of independence. The evening, which was a grand social affair, also took the opportunity to acknowledge and reward Mexican expats whose actions benefit Mexican communities abroad.
In Sept 2015, London opened the first ever contemporary Mexican fashion and design showroom on Great Portland Street, showcasing Mexico’s most prominent contemporary designers in one of the largest and most important fashion capitals in the world. Di.Me (Diseno Mexicano, Mexican Design) capitalised on the huge success of Di.Me Paris with the showroom featuring a mixture of jewellery and clothes from names such as Boks and Baum and East Club. However, it was the typical huipiles, rebozos and embroidered blouses from Julia y Renata which stole the show, and which we now see represented on the catwalk from Europe to Australasia.
And so London now looks forward to June and to the next injection of great Mexican style into the Capital. It is true to say that whilst the great Frida Kahlo is sadly no longer with us, her legacy and that of her country live on in spirit and are rapidly being emulated and embraced by style fashionistas not only in London, but across the World.