I loved how Fernández combined Indigenous traditional clothing with avant-garde styling, ancient technology with new techniques, and sketchbooks with anthropological books, and it all made sense. It wasn't awkward, it was seamless and beautiful. It wasn't pushy, it was cool.
I wanted to touch the fabrics, try on the shoes, watch all the videos, create my own videos, pour over all her sketch books. I wanted to start beading again. I wanted to meet all the artists with whom she worked.
Taller Flora is a project headed up by Fernández that involves researching Indigenous clothing techniques, workshops with Indigenous artisans, and designing couture and ready-to-wear garments based upon the research and workshops. The results are exciting.
But back to the book.
Fernández does an amazing job when describing the entire weaving process from beginning to end, from the cotton still in the pod, to creating the warp and loom, to weaving the intricate designs, to rolling up the loom at the end of the work day. She then goes on to describe the Indigenous clothing of pre-Hispanic origin and of Mestizo origin.
This information is vital to set up what's to come at the end of the book. Through diagrams, drawings, photographs, definitions and descriptions, you can almost see her thought process of how the basics of Indigenous design are perfect for haute couture. Your mind begins to think, "Which core concepts can be adapted for contemporary use? What assets can Indigenous technology and worldview offer the global fashion industry?"
And, "How can we translate this information without slipping into yet another situation of extraction?" - in other words, how can we respect the artisans as true creative artists and not merely as sweatshop workers replicating an outsider's design to be consumed by outsiders? These extraction practices, cloaked as innocent attempts to help 'the underprivileged' continue to this day. They happen in Mexico, yes, but also in New Mexico, Oregon, and New York. Fernández knows the artists have much to teach her, and she views this rightfully as an asset. (Note: Click images to zoom)
The book was published in 2006 in a limited edition, so snatch it up now and get inspired. It's a hardcover book and beautifully produced. Think about your own heritage - what core clothing and adornment concepts of your ancestors can you apply in today's fashion world? Think deep, look deep to the core - what maintains? Why? How can you nudge those traditional aspects? The possibilities, I think, are endless and are very, very exciting.