This weekend, millions of women and men rallied across the country to vocalize their opposition to Donald Trump and demand protection of women’s rights in the face of a hostile Republican government. The outpouring of solidarity was staggering, and marches from Boston to Los Angeles showcased a diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives united around a common goal and expressed in countless signs and slogans. Among these creative expressions of resistance and opposition, Mexican fashion designer Carla Fernández brought a uniquely indigenous touch to DC in the form of 16 traditional huipiles emblazoned with powerful visual and textual statements.
The pieces, which Fernández views as part of an ongoing series titled Moda en resistencia, collected personalized slogans from a contingent of 20 Mexicans who made the trip to Washington for the March, which were then emblazoned them across unadorned linen huipiles. As Fernández explained to Verne, this emblematic indigenous garment of southern Mexico is is traditionally packed with meaning, and she viewed her project as an extension of this symbolic communication. Though in this case, instead of intricate embroidery, she opted for bold and minimalist expressions of dissent painted by hand with the help of a professional sign painter.
Fernández has already been recognized for her work with traditional indigenous garments. Following a lifelong passion born from her father’s work at Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, Fernández has dedicated her career to elevating the ancient designs and handiwork of Mexico’s indigenous groups into the world of high fashion. As she told El País last year, “Chiapas is just as elegant as Balanciaga. Our high fashion is in the mountains.” And indeed, she has developed a collaborative model that draws upon the traditional knowledge of indigenous weavers and empowers them to charge fair prices for their work.
As for the Women’s March, she thought it was important to bring a Mexican voice to the diverse outpouring of defiance that descended upon Washington DC. “It’s important to understand that we Mexicans can survive anything, but we also have to speak up,” she told Verne. “We can’t let them keep knocking us around in press conferences, tweets, and speeches. We also have something to say.”