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The rebozo

is a garment of  immense cultural relevance,

embodying an intense sentiment of Mexican identification.

For centuries, worn by women as shawls and/or scarves,

they are handmade from wool, silk or cotton

weaved into an array of colours:

solid,  multi-coloured and patterned.

Historic roots

Wearing the rebozo dates back in time to colonial Mexico.

It is mentioned in the 16th century by Fray Diego Duran

as a luxury item worn by  affluent women.

During the 18th century legislation dictated the

size, design, threading and knitting of the rebozo.

 Yet the rebozo evolved into a garment of beauty and garment of purpose,

worn by women of all social classes,

 as decorative dress piece as well as infant sling.

(image from rebozohistory):


Traditionally, it required at least two persons

to make a rebozo:

a weaver and a fringe-maker (an empuntador).

Men did the weaving on looms, and the women

completed the fringe work, which could involve

 intricate pattern designing techniques.

(image from focusonmexico.com):

rebozo weavertomassilva-rebozo

at the loom

(image from visitmexico.com):

rebozo visitmexicocomphotoEscudo_Rebozo_de_telar_de_pedal_EMPUNTADO_MAIN

an empuntadora at fringe work

Depending on the desired scope of detail,

it could take a few months

to hand make a single rebozo.

The Fashion and Textile Museum, London

will present the exhibition,

Made in Mexico:  The Rebozo in Art, Culture and Fashion

which will explore the rebozo as garment of traditional dress and

garment of cultural import, worn by

revolutionaries, every day folks and artists alike.

Acclaimed Mexican surrealist artist Frida Kahlo  (1907 – 1954)

was often shown wearing a rebozo in paintings / photographs

and styled in the garment in many of her self portraits.

Thanks in part to these images, the rebozo maintains instant recognisability.

Frida Kahlo and the rebozo

(images from nickolasmuray.com):

rebozo frida muraycom_02-540s rebozo frida by nickolas muraycom_01-540s rebozo frida by nickolasmuraycom_05-540s

photographic images of the artist Frida Kahlo

taken by her lover,  the photographer Nickolas Muray

(image from nmwa.org):

rebozo kahlo self portrat from nmwaorg2.2.2.x-collection-full-image-kahlo-self_portrait

self portrait by Frida Kahlo, 1937

dedicated to Leon Trotsky (in recognition of their brief love affair)

The Rebozo in paintings

(image from warchild13.com):

rebozo painting warchild13com unknown artistMujer_con_Rebozo_Azul-tm

Mujer con rebozo azul (Woman with blue rebozo)

by an Unknown artist

rebozo painting by jose julio gaona wikipedia150px-InviernoenlaciudadRDFeb84

Invierno en la cuidad  (Winter in the city)

by the artist Jose Julio Gaona

The cultural symbolism of the rebozo has featured not only in paintings

but also in works of poetry.

(image of book jacket and quote from wingpress.com):

 Rebozos poems by carmen tafolla_jacket-web

Inspired by the paintings of Carolina Garate Garcia,

these poems by Carmen Tafolla present the rebozo as:


“(a)n essential element of daily life for centuries, one might say it is a physical manifestation of Mexican womanhood a silent witness to every state of life: a tool of daily labor, a sling to carry children, a shield from weather or from prying eyes, finally either an heirloom or a shroud. At the same time, the manner of its wearing can express every emotion, from shy seduction to sorrow, from flaunted status to simple joys and fears.”

The rebozo remains a prestige piece of cultural significance and

today is worn also as popular fashion statement accessory.

It is of rooted fashion foundation:

an iconic garment of then and now.

(image from uruapanymas.mx)

rebozoon runway from uruapanymas.mx1

the rebozo on the runway

The exhibition at the FTM will also explore

modern interprets on this iconic piece as

offered by contemporary fashion designers and artists,

including, among others, that of the FTM  founder

British designer, Zandra Rhodes and

renown American knitwear and textile designer, Kaffe Fassett.

(image from mayaescobar.com):

rebozo modern mayaescobarcommodeling tallit rebozo

a modern twist on tradition

Viva el rebozo … Hecho en Mexico!

rebozo facebook1498788_10152483238398824_1646396893276024285_o

Fashion and Textile Museum, London

until 30 August 2014

For further details visit the FTM website at