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.
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):
at the loom
(image from visitmexico.com):
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):
photographic images of the artist Frida Kahlo
taken by her lover, the photographer Nickolas Muray
(image from nmwa.org):
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):
Mujer con rebozo azul (Woman with blue rebozo)
by an Unknown artist
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):
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)
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):
a modern twist on tradition
Viva el rebozo … Hecho en Mexico!
Fashion and Textile Museum, London
until 30 August 2014
For further details visit the FTM website at