Quetzalcóatl is one of the most important deities in the Aztec pantheon, a feathered serpent who created mankind and represents the link between earth and sky. He also serves as a muse for Laura Meléndrez, cofounder of the Mexico City–based ethical fashion brand Amor & Rosas. Meléndrez is part of a cohort of young designers who are eschewing the Eurocentric fashion trends you normally find in the stylish Mexican capital in favor of garments that weave in the country’s centuries-old indigenous motifs. Take, for example, Amor & Rosas’ best-selling embroidered Quetzalcóatl bomber jacket.
“The snake represents the physical body and its limitations, while the emerald plumage symbolizes the unbound pillars of knowledge, culture, and philosophy,” Meléndrez says. “Including his figure in the jacket’s design is my way of honoring my culture’s history while promoting the respect and cultivation of artisans and their craft.”
Other Mexico City designers are also drawing from native mythology. For a recent collection, Carla Fernández took inspiration from the Danza de los Tecuanes (a Nahua dance that depicts a jaguar hunt), incorporating feline spots into dresses, jumpsuits, and tunics, as well as a line of leather warrior masks made by artisans from the southwestern state of Guerrero. “Since pre-Hispanic times, Mexican clothing has been an extension of spiritualism,” says Fernández. “When you perform sacred ritual dances while wearing the print of Tecuán, it’s believed you gain the strength of the jaguar god.”
Sussán Violante of SKVM Violante, meanwhile, looked to the Maya for her Atoktli collection, a line of raw denim bags, jeans, and oversize jackets that debuted last year. One popular jacket features a face that represents both the jade masks of Calakmul (an ancient Maya city in Campeche) and the Maya emperor Pacal the Great, who was buried with pounds of jade jewelry. “I started the collection to share stories like these, of my country’s pre-Hispanic heritage, to prompt a cultural change,” Violante says. “It’s more than a fashion brand—it’s the root of our culture on clothing.”