AP PHOTOS: Guatemala-born designer links history and culture with current trends in fashion show

May 21, 2023, 9:02 PM


A Guatemala-born designer combined indigenous weaving technique, modern clothing design and colorful history from her native country came together on a recent weekend on on a runway showcase. The fashion show offered a taste of not only Elena De León’s artistic vision, but of the work by mothers living in the U.S. or back in their country to support their families.

The Costumes of the Americas Museum in the border city of Brownsville, Texas, hosted the event with assistance from the Guatemalan Consulate in nearby McAllen and Maryland, where De León lives after immigrating to the United States seven years ago.

“I’m a woman thinking of the needs of her community and Guatemalan towns,” De León told the crowd, before models wearing clothes made by Guatemalan women sashayed down the runway.

Applause, cheers and intermittent flashes from photos were heard throughout the fashion show as women, children and men walked to fast-tempo music while in deep red, woven fabric often displaying intricate designs adorning a woman’s top, skirt or a man’s vest.

“Every single one of their textiles tell a story. A color has a significance, and each one of the regions, too,” said Rosario Ovando, Guatemala’s consul in McAllen.

About 200 women of Guatemalan descent living in the U.S. or in their home country work with De León to sell their products and keep a personal duty.

“Women are also the ones that carry the culture, that carry the language. They carry the traditions,” Ovando said. “There’s a lot of tradition in our country and a lot of women that have this magic in their hands.”

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AP PHOTOS: Guatemala-born designer links history and culture with current trends in fashion show