A MEXICO CITY-BASED FASHION BRAND MELDS ANCIENT AND CONTEMPORARY TECHNIQUES TO CREATE COLLECTOR-WORTHY MODERN DESIGNS.
Fashion designer Carla Fernández models the Coyolxauhqui jumper from her Nuestras Diosas collection (SS ’22), made in collaboration with Emmanuel García Ramírez of Mexico City. PHOTO BY BEN LAMBERTY/COURTESY OF CARLA FERNÁNDEZ
FASHION DESIGNER CARLA FERNÁNDEZ embraces the idea of slow fashion, collaboration with local artisans and Mexico’s legacy as a maker of contemporary fashion. Her work is being featured in the Denver Art Museum’s textile art and fashion galleries (denverartmuseum.org) in an exhibit titled Carla Fernández Casa de Moda: A Mexican Fashion Manifesto. Running through Sept. 5, the exhibit provokes questions about the way we dress and how we produce textiles.
“It’s an immersive experience, and it tells a completely different story—different from the workshop or from what you see in stores,” says Fernández, whose couture house aims to bring new meaning to the fashion world as an agent of social and ethical change. This retrospective explores the designer’s career, ranging from new looks like fringed ponchos designed for the latest collection to historical pieces borrowed from the wardrobes of ardent collectors. “This exhibition is an homage to all the people who made the clothing and to the complexity of fashion,” Fernández says.
The Kaan Calado jumper from the SS ’22 collection was made in collaboration with Chimalhuacán artisan Fidel Martínez and features the same handcut leather applications used to protect the fabric of traditional suits worn by colonial-era charros as they lassoed cows from horseback. PHOTO BY FABIOLA ZAMORA/COURTESY OF GH MANAGEMENT/ISELA FERNÁNDEZ AND CARLA FERNÁNDEZ
For more than 20 years, the designer has been collaborating with Indigenous communities in Mexico to transform traditional techniques into something wearable. A jaguar mask used for dancing in festivals finds new life as a handbag. Outdated kitchen utensils like a whisk for making chocolate are made into bracelets. Fernández finds inspiration in tradition, and her dialogue with local craftsmen creates an entirely new outlet for their work within the fashion space.
Fernández’s pieces are handcrafted by master artisans, often with painstaking techniques like intricate embroidery and handcut leather appliques. The results are precious objects meant to be cherished over time. It’s all part of the designer’s manifesto. “We believe in another system of fashion—that you can know who you’re working with, that you can do it slowly, that you can produce things that are meant to last and to be shared.”