Six models lit up the runway to a sold-out crowd at the Feria Maestros del Arte’s 2nd Mexican Fashion Show held Monday, September 28 at Casa del Sol in Ajijic.
Featured were fashions by Manta del Lago, spectacular handwoven rebozos (shawls) by Cecilia Bautista and the distinctive jewelry of Guadalajara silver artist Gabriela Sanchez.
Seventy-seven guests paid 200 pesos each to attend the show, thus ensuring sufficient funding to bring four artists from Campeche and the Yucatan to this year’s Feria, scheduled November 13 to 15.
Bautista is a proud descendant of the Purepecha people from Ahuiran, a village on the Tarascan plateau near Uruapan in Michoacan. She has developed many innovative details by combining a variety of materials in weaving and finishing her fine shawls. She delighted the fashion show audience by demonstrating several different ways to tie and wear rebozos.
Sanchez creates jewelry inspired by the richness of Mexico. Her themes include handcrafted toys, plants and trees. She studied design in Guadalajara and Madrid, as well as Taxco, Guerrero, a town universally regarded as Mexico’s silver capital. In addition to receiving many awards for her jewelry, she has displayed her work in the famous Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City.
The Feria, now in its 14th year, was organized to bring awareness to the plight of Mexico’s folk art and the artists who create it. Marianne Carlson, the show’s founder, says many of the nation’s art forms have disappeared because artists cannot support their families with the kind of creative work that has been shared by six or more previous generations. Many artists have now abandoned their family art heritage and taken other jobs to earn a steady income.
Many visitors to the fair are unaware of the benefits for the folk artists who participate in the fair:
• The artists pay no booth fees or a percentage of sales
• The Feria pays the transportation for two artists from each booth
• Local residents host artists and provide meals during the Feria
• Artists take home every centavo they sell during the three-day event
The Feria needs a good deal of local and international support to be able to continue to help the artists. The money collected in admissions is barely enough to cover the cost of renting the tents, tables and chairs.
Fortunately, the leading sponsor in the United States, Los Amigos del Arte Popular, has donated US$6,500 to rent a bus to transport artists from Chiapas, Veracruz and Puebla to Chapala. Meanwhile in Mexico, Megacable has pledged 280,000 pesos in advertising on their large network of TV channels, and printed tote bags to be given to each person attending the show.