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At the FIT museum, a new exhibit proposes a subtle way of looking at Latin American fashion

This show has been a long time coming. Twenty years ago, Melendez-Escalante was an FIT graduate student from Mexico looking to expand the way we study fashion in the region. “We have such a huge heritage that we really need to look at clothing and fashion more professionally, not just from an anthropological perspective,” she said. Her attempts were thwarted, and the library was almost entirely devoid of text on the subject. But in a full-circle moment, years later, after joining the museum as a curator, she collaborated with Marra-Alvarez to conceive the show.

“There have been exhibitions about Latin American design or specific designers, but we were surprised to see none that addressed the work of fashion designers and the region as a whole and its diaspora, said Melendez-Escalante. 60 Works are presented thematically according to the designer’s preferred concepts, from gender and politics to elegance and craftsmanship, rather than in geographical or chronological order. “It’s a really nice way to highlight the diversity of the region,” says Marra-Alvarez, “but also to connect these designers together in their work, and the nuances and similarities we found that made these Both were eye-opening.”

First up is a section focused on Indigenous heritage, which highlights the influence of Indigenous cultures on Latin American fashion today by focusing on collaborative design. The star of this installment is the collaboration between Guillermo Vargas of Mexican brand 1/8 Takamura and Mixe artisan Paula Pérez Vásquez, who together created Blusa Cuadro Tlahui, a hand-embroidered pattern Square shirt.

on the opposite side of the Indigenous outfits is a collection of pop culture-focused outfits that alternate between collaborations (Carla Fernandez x Adidas jerseys) and personal (Luar dresses that serve as designer Raul Lopez’s ode to his aunts and other housewives) parents). The most powerful message of the exhibition is here: Latin America and its diaspora are diverse, but culturally there is a common language based on shared interests ranging from family and ancestral traditions to sports.


Next comes a gender-focused bay . “These [clothing] shed light on the way we understand how gender is constructed, how femininity is weaponized, talked about or celebrated, for example,” says Melendez-Escalante. These include Mexican designer Bárbara Sanchez-Kane’s satire on the muscle-obsessed male physique, Elena Velez’s display of “a body that is both strong and at the seams.” A woman falling apart” dresses, and a fitted evening gown by Narciso, Rodriguez, showcased a more traditional femininity. This section is augmented when having a conversation with another person who examines elegance as a social construct, some of the same designers. As an artful summation of the current conversation about intersectionality, the co-curators have printed “Latinx” T-shirts on the LGBTQ+ Pride rainbow.


The exhibition also explores how politics Become part of the Latino and Latino designer vernacular. While it’s true that the region is plagued by political issues, and Latinos in the U.S. face a lot of obstacles, the fashion industry doesn’t usually make powerful political statements through its products. The piece with the strongest message in this section is Willy Chavarria’s “Nobody’s Illegal” sweatshirt.


Other sections include discussions on art and fashion A study of the relationships between, an examination of how Latin American and Latinx designers approach sustainability, and reflections on craft.



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