Indigenous Mexican fashion designer bringing his culture's 'cosmovision' to NY fashion week

Reuters New York Jan 16, 2020, 09.27 AM(IST)

Fashion designer Photograph:( Reuters )

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Indigenous Mexican weaver and fashion designer Alberto Lopez knew he wanted to be a traditional weaver early on, but there was a problem: The artisans who worked the looms in his poor village in the lush mountains of southern Mexico were all women.

Indigenous Mexican weaver and fashion designer Alberto Lopez knew he wanted to be a traditional weaver early on, but there was a problem: The artisans who worked the looms in his poor village in the lush mountains of southern Mexico were all women.

Undeterred, Lopez, a Tzotzil Maya, convinced his mother to let him walk away from the cornfields - the expected place for men like him - and embrace his passion for making the ago-old garments known as huipils.

Later this month, 31-year-old Lopez will showcase his art at a conference at Harvard University and then in New York at a show celebrating indigenous style on the eve of the city's world-famous fashion week, where superstar designers like Tom Ford and Vera Wang will promote their new lines.

A world away in San Cristobal de las Casas, a postcard-perfect colonial town famed for its indigenous Maya culture, Lopez has a studio where he makes handmade huipils from cotton or wool thread and natural pigments to create patterns bursting with color.

He explains that the huipils, traditionally used by women but a garment he also likes to wear, can take up to a year to craft and require meticulous attention to detail.

The work can also require dialogue of sorts.

"I feel the threads also feel what you do, so sometimes I start talking to them," he said.

He adds with a knowing smile that he does this when no one else is around, especially when the thread is being difficult.

Lopez attributes his U.S. invites to a viral video from a German documentary last year and said he had to scramble to get a passport and a visa to be able to make the trip.

"I'm going to explain the cosmovision behind each garment," he said proudly.

Lopez's K'uxul Pok' collection of huipils will be displayed at the "American Indian Fashion Through the Feathers" show in New York on Feb. 2, just days after he is set to speak at a Mexico-themed conference at Harvard.