Old world weaving, new world threads

Guatemala as been popping up all over my thought threads lately, not least of which is because I’m enthralled with super sweet textiles that come from the area.

Women in Guatemala and Mexico have been using brocade loom and hand embroidery techniques to create their incredibly intricate huipils – traditional squarish tops – in basically the same way their ancient Mayan ancestors did years ago. Much of the weaving is died using the ikat technique, a complex process which breeds beautiful results.

Mayans used the design and color of  huipil to distinguish themselves from other tribes or people, the same way that fashion functions today to assert individuality (or an alliance with a “tribe” of people, as the case may be).

I’ve been inspired lately by combining traditional Guatemalan textiles with more modern styles.

My favorite new find is Osborn Design shoes; their oxfords, loafers and flats are made using cloth from regions all over Guatemala and each shoe is as unique as the cloth it’s cut from. Osborn supports 30+ Guatemalan artisans who hand-make the one-of-a-kind shoes in humane conditions.

This dress by Mara Hoffman is a perfect example of the best of both worlds. The tailored cut is super flattering and balances the eye-catching design of the cloth perfectly.

Proenza Schouler’s Pre-Fall Collection borrowed the bold colors and stripes from Guatemalan textiles in the creation of slouchy sweaters, high-colored blouses and wide-legged shorts for the Pre-Fall 2011 collection.

And Gwen Stefani used Guatemalan-inspired embellishments in her L.A.M.B. 2011 collection.

Loving how old-world cloth meets new-world clothing, especially when the look is achieved by supporting Guatemalan artisans. Looking forward to visit to the country in question in the near future for more reasons than fashion.